US media is reporting on a huge donation made to a group led by what is described as a “prominent conservative lawyer” close to Donald Trump and known for running a network of rightwing “dark money” non-profits that don’t disclose their donors. According to the CNN report, the donation is connected to an electronics company executive and philanthropist tied to other dark-money donations:
August 22, 2022 A new group led by a prominent conservative lawyer has received $1.6 billion from one donor — the largest single contribution to a politically focused nonprofit that’s ever been made public, and a fortune that could be used to fuel right-wing interests. The nonprofit, Marble Freedom Trust, received the contribution in the form of stock and then funneled more than $200 million to other conservative organizations last year, a tax form CNN obtained from the IRS shows. Marble Freedom is led by Leonard Leo, the co-chairman of the conservative Federalist Society, who advised former President Donald Trump on his Supreme Court picks and runs a sprawling network of other right-wing nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors, which are often referred to as dark money groups. A CNN review of financial documents connected the donation to Barre Seid, a low-profile, 90-year-old Chicago electronics company executive and philanthropist who has previously been tied to smaller anonymous contributions to other right-wing groups. The New York Times, which first reported the contribution on Monday, also identified Seid as the donor. Donors with influence on Texas politics Donors with influence on Texas politics 02:52 The massive donation instantly makes the Utah-based group one of the most well-funded organizations bankrolling conservative causes in the US — a staggering distinction for a group with zero public profile or even a website. In comparison, the single contribution is more than double the total amount raised by Trump’s presidential campaign committee during the entire 2020 election cycle.
Read the rest here.
Pro-Publica further reported on Leonard Leo, identified above as the head of Marble Freedom, the group which received the 1.6 billion dollar donation:
August 22, 2022 As President Donald Trump’s adviser on judicial nominations, Leo helped build the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority, which recently eliminated Constitutional protections for abortion rights and has made a series of sweeping pro-business decisions. Leo, a conservative Catholic, has both helped select judges to nominate to the Supreme Court and directed multimillion dollar media campaigns to confirm them. Leo derives immense political power through his ability to raise huge sums of money and distribute those funds throughout the conservative movement to influence elections, judicial appointments and policy battles. Yet the biggest funders of Leo’s operation have long been a mystery.
Read the rest here.
The Pro-Publica report adds further detail about the doner Barre Seid:
Seid, who led the surge protector and data-center equipment maker Tripp Lite for more than half a century, has been almost unknown outside a small circle of political and cultural recipients. The gift immediately vaults him into the ranks of major funders like the Koch brothers and George Soros.
In August 2021, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that a network of dark-money organizations was attempting to foster voter suppression in the US.
In January 2022, we reported about the role of conservative dark money and an unregistered lobbyist in seeking Presidential pardons from outgoing US President Donald Trump.