In the News

End Citizens United investigation featured on front page of Washington Post

Mar 21, 2016

End Citizens United’s investigation into secret shell companies making political contributions landed on the front page of the Washington Post this weekend.

How ‘ghost corporations’ are funding the 2016 election

By Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy

“…Many corporate givers this cycle are well-established hedge funds, energy companies and real estate firms. But a significant share of the money is coming from newly formed LLCs with cryptic names that offer few clues about their backers.

Among the new players is Children of Israel LLC, a company formed in California last June by Shaofen “Lisa” Gao, a real estate agent in Cupertino, Calif., whose Happy Realty firm helps Chinese buyers find homes in Silicon Valley.

On a form filed with the secretary of state’s office in September, Gao listed Children of Israel’s type of business as “Donations,” according to a document found by a researcher for End Citizens United, a Democratic PAC that supports candidates in favor of stricter campaign-finance rules.

Weeks after being formed, Children of Israel gave $50,000 to Pursuing America’s Greatness, a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, FEC records show. In November, the LLC gave the pro-Huckabee group $100,000. And this January, it donated $250,000 to Stand for Truth, a super PAC backing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Gao — who has no history of making political contributions in California or at the federal level — did not respond to repeated calls and emails seeking comment.

Valerie Martin, a senior adviser to End Citizens United, said the blatant admission by the company that its purpose is to make contributions underscores the degree to which donors feel emboldened to hide behind such entities.

‘This goes to the heart of what’s really wrong with the system and how it’s broken,’ she said. ‘I think it really bothers Americans that people want to influence elections without fingerprints.'”

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