WASHINGTON -- A firm run by noted former Koch brothers operative Sean Noble was behind the scenes of a recent dispute alleging improper coordination between Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey's gubernatorial campaign and an independent expenditure committee that is supporting him.
Ducey's Republican primary rivals had quickly raised questions about how Conservative Leadership for Arizona obtained the footage of his gubernatorial campaign announcement that appeared in its ad last week. Two of Ducey's opponents said their campaigns were prohibited from filming at the event, HuffPost reported earlier this week, but the pro-Ducey group managed to obtain footage that had not been made public.
Amanda Reeve, the group's chairwoman, told HuffPost that Smart Media Group, an Alexandria, Virginia-based media-buying firm, shot the footage that was ultimately used in the ad.
According to a subsequent story in the Yellow Sheet Report, Reeve said the video of the February event was actually taped by Noble's DC London. Reeve said Noble's firm later let her committee know it could purchase that footage from Smart Media Group.
"I did not attend the event, nor did anyone else from DC London," Noble elaborated on what happened in an email to HuffPost. "We hired two professionals as subcontractors to film the event. I am not aware of anyone on the Ducey team knowing we had someone there filming. As I understand, there was no check-in, it was pretty open, and there were a lot of cameras."
Conservative Leadership for Arizona was not created until six days after Ducey's campaign announcement, according to state election records. “We knew an IE [independent expenditure] committee was going to be formed," Noble told the Yellow Sheet Report.
In the past, Noble has worked with a network of political organizations linked to billionaires Charles and David Koch that spend enormous sums to influence elections while keeping their donors anonymous. But Noble reportedly fell out of favor with the Kochs after a "dark money" nonprofit he launched, the Center to Protect Patient Rights, ran into legal trouble for funneling millions of dollars into a ballot initiative committee in California during the 2012 election.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington announced on Wednesday that it had filed complaints with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service against the center and Noble for allegedly "falsely asserting on tax returns he signed under penalty of perjury that CPPR did not engage in any political activity in 2010."
Noble and Ducey's campaign both said he has never had any role with the campaign. However, Noble is considered to be an ally of Ducey, according to the Yellow Sheet Report.
Ducey's media consultant, Larry McCarthy, and Noble have both done work for the Legacy Foundation Action Fund in the current Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska. The Legacy Foundation, an Iowa-based nonprofit, also spent $275,000 last month on ads attacking one of Ducey's primary opponents, according to The Arizona Republic. The nonprofit's media buys in Phoenix were placed by Smart Media Group.
Melissa DeLaney, a spokeswoman for Ducey, told HuffPost on Wednesday that Ducey's campaign announcement was open to the media and that the campaign asked people to leave in only two instances. DeLaney said the campaign didn't know that DC London was filming the event.
"It was a big event," she said. "There were lots of cameras there. We were very under-resourced. We weren't checking credentials."
Watch the ad from Conservative Leadership for Arizona below: