Saturday, March 08, 2014

Citizens United, Money Laundering and Castle

I found it fascinating that the latest episode of Castle "In the Belly of the Beast" (yes, I did say I was done with Castle but during a recent convalescence I got back into watching it) had a plot based on the idea that the Citizen's United decision was a perfect conduit for money laundering. As the recap says:
Someone else is behind the ring Beckett witnessed. Someone bigger. Future Forward is a political super PAC. The would-be murder victim from earlier, Evan Potter, did all the legal work to establish it for a wealthy client named Jason Cokeler, who just died of a heart attack. Millions was laundered through the super PAC. Someone is using the money to build a massive political war chest. Beckett knows that it’s Senator Bracken. 
Bracken was responsible for Beckett's mother's death, which is what made her become a cop in the first place.

I have to say, I'm very impressed by this story line. I hadn't really thought too much about the money laundering facilitation of CU, but others (besides Castle's writers) have. Here is an amazing episode in the Stephen Colbert Super PAC saga. They literally use the term:

I can take secret donations from my C-4 and give it to my supposedly transparent Super PAC
And it'll say "given by your C-4"
What is the difference between that and money laundering.
It's hard to say.

The Brennan Center for Justice referenced the Colbert episode:
In addition to spending dark money directly, nonprofits can give unlimited donations to Super PACs for electioneering. Thus, although Super PACs are transparent, underlying donors can remain anonymous by simply routing their money through an intermediary nonprofit. Now, many—if not most—Super PACs operate with an affiliated nonprofit to give camera-shy donors a means to contribute large sums of money without public scrutiny. For instance, the Cooperative of American Physicians, a medical malpractice and medical liability insurer, has contributed $2.4 million to its own Super PAC for political ad buys—without any public knowledge of its underlying funders. [7] This practice has become so widespread that comedian Stephen Colbert has lampooned current law as essentially legalizing money laundering.[8]