Leftist dark money groups such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund, New Venture Fund, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), and others have remained silent on calls to disclose their donors even though they have publicly backed legislation that would provide for the disclosure of dark money groups’ donors and made public statements calling for donor transparency.
Breitbart News reported that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has served as one of the most vocal Democrat critics of “dark money’s” influence in politics, but the Rhode Island Democrat appears to be a significant beneficiary of dark money.
The national conversation over the allegedly nefarious influences of dark money also extends to many leftist groups — such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the LCV, Sierra Club, Majority Foward, and the Environmental Defense Action Fund — which have supported H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Other organizations have supported campaign finance and election transparency reform.
H.R. 1 appears to remove a provision that restrained the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from targeting tax-exempt organizations, which was enacted after the tax agency targeted many conservative organizations’ tax-exempt statuses in 2013. Generally speaking, tax-exempt political organizations do not want to disclose their donors to avoid harassment from political activists; however, given that these organizations have announced their support of the For the People Act, Breitbart News contacted them to see if they would support disclosing their donors and disclose all of their donors over $1,000 in the name of transparency. Breitbart News also contacted New Venture Fund and Demand Justice.
Sixteen Thirty Fund
The Sixteen Thirty Fund is a leftist nonprofit in Washington, DC, that spent $141 million on more than “100 left-leaning causes” during the 2018 midterm elections. The Fund’s efforts included fighting Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, blocking confirmation of Donald Trump nominees, and boosting reforms on voting laws and districting in several states.
The Arabella Advisors, a D.C.-based consulting firm that caters to left-leaning clients, administers the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund.
Sixteen Thirty Fund’s activism was funded by massive “anonymous donations, including one gift totaling $51.7 million.” A second high-rolling donor gave the organization $26.7 million, and a third gave them $10 million.
Despite revealing the three highest donation amounts, Sixteen Thirty Fund has not revealed who gave them those amounts or their other top donors’ identities.
“That single donation was more than the group had ever raised before in an entire year before President Donald Trump was elected. Most of the group’s funders are likely to remain a mystery because federal law does not require ‘social welfare’-focused nonprofits to reveal their donors,” Politico wrote in 2019.
Politico speculated on the Fund’s close ties to the Arabella Advisors, a firm that advises donors and nonprofits and was founded by Clinton administration staffer Eric Kessler.
Failed presidential candidate and billionaire leftist donor Michael Bloomberg gave $250,000 to a super PAC affiliated with the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
The Democracy Alliance, which is affiliated with billionaire George Sorors, recommended that donors invest millions into the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
Amy Kurtz, the fund’s executive director, when asked by RealClearPolitics if she supports the enactment of donor disclosure as proscribed by the For the People Act and other similar bills, said, “We have lobbied in favor of reform to the current campaign finance system. But we remain equally committed to following the current laws to level the playing field for progressives.”
Despite Kurtz’s equivocation about if her organization would support donor disclosure provisions in H.R. 1, the Sixteen Thirty Fund told the Hawaii state government it would not disclose their donors if they are guaranteed confidentiality.
The fund wrote to the state government:
Federal Law permits non-profit organizations to keep their donors confidential and not to disclose them. While the IRS does require some disclosure of donors on Schedule B of the 990, it is not all donors. While Sixteen Thirty Fund can and does provide Schedule B from its 990 to several states, it does so only when subject to a commitment of confidentiality by the State. Sixteen Thirty Fund will not disclose its donors beyond what is required on Schedule B and will only share that information with regulators if confidentiality of that information is guaranteed.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund did not respond to Breitbart News’s comment request on if they would disclose their donors.
New Venture Fund
The New Venture Fund is a leftist nonprofit that makes grants and incubates other left-of-center organizations. It operates alongside its 501(c)(4) sister organization, the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
The organization did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is a member of the Declaration for American Democracy coalition, which advocates for H.R. 1 and other election transparency reforms.
The election reform coalition believes that the For the People Act would “put ordinary Americans ahead of Big Money donors.”
Planned Parenthood did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment about if they would disclose their donors in the interest of transparency.
Center for American Progress (CAP)
The Center for American Progress labels itself as an “independent nonpartisan policy institute” that aims to enact “bold, progressive ideas.”
CAP has frequently written about the allegedly negative influences of dark money, although they have focused primarily on conservative and Republican organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA).
CAP has written op-eds about how “dark money” is poisoning”American democracy.”
This raises the question of whether CAP is a dark money organization given that they have not fully disclosed their donors.
In February, a CAP official told Politico that the group is not a dark money organization and that they allegedly disclose their donors on its website.
However, despite the CAP official’s claim, CAP Action Fund neglected to disclose some of their most significant donors in 2019, including:
- One donation of $1 million or more donation
- Two donors gave between $500 and $999,999
- Seven donors gave between $100,000 to $499,999
- Two donors gave between $50,000 to $99,999
- Two donors gave between $5,000 to $49,999
In response to Breitbart News’s comment request, a CAP official pointed to their list of 501(c)(3) donors, which discloses some but not all of their donors.
CAP’s most generous donors, or those that donated over $1 million in 2019, include:
- Carnegie Corporation of New York
- Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
- Foundation to Promote Open Society
- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
- The Hutchins Family Foundation
- Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine Family Fund
- Lawrence Linden
- Eric and Stacey Mindich
- Sandler Foundation
Many of their most significant donors, however, remain anonymous. This includes:
- Five donations of $1 million or more
- Two donations between $500,000 and $999,999
- Seven donations between $100,000 and $499,999
- Three donations between $50,000 and $99,999
- 13 donations between $5,000 and $49,999
The CAP official did not respond to a subsequent request for comment as to why they keep these 501(c)(3) donations anonymous.
League of Conservation Voters
The LCV is an environmentalist group that also promotes an environmentalist agenda.
The LCV sent a letter to the House in January urging the lower chamber to pass the Democrats’ marquee legislation.
In the letter, the environmentalist group called for greater transparency, writing that H.R. 1 would “strengthen voting rights, increase transparency and fairness in our campaign finance system.” The group also noted that the For the People Act would ensure that the “people’s voice, rather than outsized corporate influence, guide our elected officials.”
However, despite the LCV’s support of H.R.1, LCV has not responded as to whether they would disclose their donors.
The Sierra Club is another environmentalist activist organization that supports H.R. 1.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released a statement after Democrats unveiled the legislation in January in support of donor disclosure and attacking dark money. Brune said:
The For the People Act proposes the necessary and commonsense reforms that will help reign in the undue influence of dark money in our elections, expand access to the ballot box, and increase ways the American people can hold our elected officials accountable. The Sierra Club applauds Speaker Pelosi and Representative Sarbanes for their visionary leadership toward a stronger, equitable democracy, and we are proud to rise with our allies across the movement in support of transformative government reforms and H.R. 1.
The Sierra Club also noted in their press release that it would curb the “undue influence of corporate polluters.”
The Sierra Club did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment on whether they would support disclosing their donors.
Majority Foward is a leftist activist organization that supports “voter registration and voter turnout efforts. Our primary mission is to encourage full participation by voters in our election process.”
The organization is also affiliated with Senate Majority PAC, which is run by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Majority Forward ran an ad criticizing Republicans for blocking legislation that passed through the House, which includes H.R. 1.
Majority Forward did not respond to a comment request from Breitbart News on disclosing their donors after they have supported H.R. 1.
Demand Justice is a leftist organization seeking a leftward balance in the courts. The organization has held Democrat primary presidential forums in which Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called for passing H.R. 1.
Demand Justice is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund and serves as part of a leftist coalition to support packing the Supreme Court with additional justices.
Demand Justice did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment on whether they would support disclosing their donors.
Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDF Action)
The EDF is another environmentalist action organization that supports election transparency. The organization announced its support for H.R. 1 in January, claiming the legislation would curb the energy industry’s alleged outsized influence in D.C.
EDF Action senior vice president of political affairs said in a statement in January:
Climate progress depends on a working democracy. That’s why EDF Action is supporting reforms that will strengthen the power of the people. For far too long, money has played an outsized role in Washington, giving too much power to those who profit from polluting sources of energy and oppose bold action on climate change. We need to take this first step of comprehensive democracy reforms so we can ensure that the environmental concerns in every community are not only heard but legislative action is taken to solve these critical problems facing our country.
With the reforms included in the For the People Act, we can make voting more accessible so that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot without interference, actively participate in our democracy and advocate for commonsense legislation that helps to clean up our air and water while fighting for a healthier planet.
EDF Action did not respond to a request for comment from Breitbart News about disclosing their donors given that they support H.R. 1.
The Americans for Public Trust (APT), a nonprofit dedicated to revealing unethical behavior, released an ad in February noting that many prominent Joe Biden administration members came from leftist dark money organizations.
- Ron Klain, a Center for American Progress board member, who became Biden’s chief of staff.
- Gina McCarthy, who worked at National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and became a climate adviser to the Biden administration.
One-hundred and forty-five million dollars in dark money went to supporting Biden’s presidential bid, and $345 million went towards aiding Democrats during the 2020 election. In contrast, Republicans only received $145 million in 2020.
Caitlin Sutherland, the Americans for Public Trust’s executive director, told Breitbart News in a comment Friday that these leftist groups have displayed hypocrisy by refusing to disclose their donors while backing donor disclosure.
“This is just another example of rules for thee, not for me coming from dark money groups and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Even the administration refuses to answer if the new pro-Biden dark money group should disclose its donors,” Sutherland said. “And this all comes after President Biden started paying back the dark money groups that got him elected in the first place. Do they truly want to disclose their donors while the payout continues? I guess we will find out.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.