February is typically a slow month for media hits in Washington, DC, with everyone focused on beginning the work of the new year rather than promoting what they’ve been doing. But CRC still placed some important op-eds placed in national and state outlets, focused on where the money went in the 2020 election and how Democrats tend to say one thing and do another when it comes to “dark money.”
Additionally, our work showed up in the research of many other writers who used both our analysis and data-gathering to flesh out their own pieces on “dark money” and the connections and associations between political influencers. Nothing makes us happier than to know we’re providing good information to journalists as they conduct their work. Here’s the best of February 2021.
“Megadonors Pour Record Amount of Money into GOTV Effort for Dems”
Washington Free Beacon, Hayden Ludwig (Op-ed), February 1, 2021
The Tides Foundation, an organization that allows left-wing donors to fund political activism anonymously, raised over $800 million across its nonprofit network in 2019, a dramatic rise over previous figures. Much of that money went to “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) campaigns in the 2020 election cycle, including the Voter Registration Project, Rock the Vote, and the Voter Participation Center, which exploit IRS nonprofit rules to register new voters in Democratic-leaning areas that helped deliver key battleground states to President Joe Biden. The IRS considers voter registration a “charitable” activity for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits, provided it isn’t explicitly partisan.
But when self-identified progressive organizations target Democratic-leaning constituencies in battleground states during election years the effect is anything but nonpartisan. Their tax-deductible funding comes from undisclosed sources on the left and is passed through Tides, which caters strictly to left-wing political groups, and voter registration groups on the left vastly outnumber similar groups on the right. The vast sums poured into these efforts also run counter to the narrative on the left that it abhors dark money in politics.
“Revival of DOJ ‘Slush-Fund’ Settlements Raises Important Questions About the Nonprofit Organization Revolving Door”
Washington Examiner, Robert Stilson (Op-ed), February 9, 2021
President Biden’s presidential transition and the early days of his administration point to two related conclusions: First, environmental and climate policy will be a government-wide priority. Second, nonprofit activist groups will likely be influential in shaping this policy. This was clear from the composition of his transition agency review teams. As noted in a Scientific American article back in November, “from the Pentagon to the General Services Administration, President-elect Joe Biden has embedded climate-minded officials throughout his sprawling transition team.”
And the Capital Research Center’s own analysis of some of those teams revealed a significant nonprofit organization presence. The EPA team, for instance, included members currently or formerly employed at a variety of environmental advocacy groups such as Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Other teams, the Department of the Interior, for instance, had similarly strong nonprofit organization representation.
“Will Democrats’ Election-Reform Push Backfire on the Dark-Money Left?”
National Review, Jack Fowler, February 4, 2021
There’s more projection in Washington than in a chain of movie theaters. An excellent example of this is the Left’s relentless attack on “dark money,” cast as a distinctly conservative poison polluting American politics. So goes the hooey.
Just what it is, how much of it there is, who gets the bulk of the dark dough, and whether there is an approaching day of ruing for Democrats and their cash-flush “philanthropy” sidekicks, such as Arabella Advisors and the Tides Foundation — the Left’s superlative hypocrisy on the issue is matched by that of a supportive, echo-chamber media — are questions prompted by the legislation deemed so important, so vital and urgent, it gets the distinction of being numbered H.R. 1. The bill’s formal title is the “For the People Act of 2021” (we might suggest the “For the People Who Are Not Conservatives Act”), and it is sponsored by John Sarbanes (D., Md.). The Senate version’s sponsor is Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democrat to the left of whom is the Pacific Ocean.
“Biden a Dark Money Puppet”
Washington Times, Adam Laxalt, February 23, 2021
Mr. Biden is already delivering for his dark money donors on a policy level. He canceled the permit for the Keystone pipeline, eliminating thousands of good-paying union jobs, and he is breaking all the promises of moderation he made in 2020.
Democrats love to chide Republicans about their dark money ties, but Mr. Biden is truly the first dark money president. Two other Biden appointees imminently up for confirmation illustrate how deeply embedded the Biden administration is in the dark money arena: Xavier Becerra, Mr. Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Vanita Gupta, Mr. Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general.
“Biden, Democrats Received Tens of Millions in ‘Dark Money’ During 2020 Campaign”
American Greatness, Eric Lendrum, February 25, 2021
Multiple shady left-wing organizations were found to have funneled tens of millions in “dark money” towards the campaigns of Joe Biden and other Democrats in the 2020 election cycle, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
One such group is Tides Advocacy, which spent at least $1.6 million in dark money on Democratic and left-wing causes last year. Another is the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which sent at least $60 million to committees and other organizations in support of Biden and other Democrats. Groups like Sixteen Thirty are meant to hide the identities of donors who wish to spend excessive amounts of money on political causes, and the amounts spent in 2020 may exceed previous election cycles.
“Zuckerberg Among Left Leaning Influencers Who Poured Money into NC”
Carolina Journal, Johnny Kampis, February 8, 2021
North Carolina, which saw a tightening of the presidential race in the 2020 election, was among the states that saw an influx of money from Mark Zuckerberg in the months leading up to the voting. Donald Trump won the state by 177,000 votes over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the Democrats cut the margin of victory by more than half in 2020, when Trump won by 74,000 votes over Joe Biden.
Capital Research Center noted that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $350 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which in turn gave the money to local election officials. CRC argues that the formerly small group “became an activist juggernaut with the means to effectively manage the election in numerous cities and battleground states across the nation.”
“Mark Zuckerberg Meddled in Battleground State Elections: Here’s How”
Issues & Insights, Hayden Ludwig, February 23, 2021
Perhaps the biggest underreported story of 2020 was how one billionaire, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, joined with a sleepy Chicago-based 501(c)(3) public charity to effectively privatize the 2020 election in many states.
Meet the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which funneled an unprecedented $350 million from Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to local elections officials for COVID-19 “relief.” In a blink, CTCL grew from almost nothing — its 2018 revenues were just $1.4 million — to a titan with the means to heavily influence election outcomes in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in key battleground states.
CTCL flooded Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere with millions of dollars in “Zuck bucks,” largely targeting major Democratic strongholds that helped Biden flip them blue.
“ABSURD! Study Labels Conservatives, ‘Dark Web’ Members ‘Gateways’ to Extremism”
MRC Newsbusters, February 25, 2021
The “extremist” channels list was compiled in part from the SPLC, which has received criticism from Influence Watch for “characterizing non-violent conventional conservative organizations as equivalent to violent extremists.” The SPLC has wrongly targeted people and organizations in the past. For example, it promotes an infamous “hate map,” which played a role in Floyd Lee Corkins’s shooting at the Family Research Council headquarters in 2012.
“Over 60 Pro-Life Leaders Call on Senate to Reject Biden Nominee Becerra over ‘Radical Abortion Views’”
Daily Caller, Mary Margaret Olohan, February 22, 2021
Becerra’s confirmation hearings will begin Tuesday.
SBA List also joined a conservative coalition, led by Judicial Crisis Network, Heritage Action for America and Americans for Public Trust, highlighting progressive “dark money” groups like Arabella Advisors. Arabella Advisors poured millions of dollars into Biden’s 2020 campaign, according to Capital Research Center. The campaign also targets Becerra and Vanita Gupta, Biden’s pick for associate attorney general.