Organization Trends

Leftist “Dark Money” Groups Tilting the 2020 Election for Democrats


Professional activists don’t just want 2020 to be a blowout election for Democrats—they want to create a permanent leftist majority in Washington, DC, by any means necessary. “Charitable” groups such as the Fair Elections Center and Secure Elections for America Now (SEAN) are just the tip of the spear in this campaign, using their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for political ends, including mass voter registration.

Politics Disguised as Charity

Don’t be fooled. This is about boosting votes for the Democratic Party in November, not charity. Take these groups’ other major goal: dismantling voter integrity laws.

The Fair Elections Center employs a host of lawyers to litigate against supposed “voter suppression” legislation such as voter ID requirements. It played a key role in a 2016 lawsuit that resulted in Virginia restoring voting rights to some 206,000 felons just months before the 2016 election, which some critics argue helped Democrats clinch key victories in Virginia’s 2017 election. A similar ongoing lawsuit in Kentucky could restore voting rights to nearly 243,000 felons.

Like its voter registration work, this isn’t about fairness or justice; it’s about getting an edge in the coming election by expanding the Democrats’ base of sympathetic voters. Accordingly, the Fair Elections Center has launched similar lawsuits in at least 11 states, many of which—including Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Florida—are important battlegrounds between Trump and Biden and targets for a left-wing takeover.

SEAN’s goal is the opposite of its name: lobbying for automatic voter registration for teenagers and all-mail voting in 2020—the quickest road to voter fraud on an unprecedented scale.

The group calls these schemes “bipartisan,” but its advisory board consists exclusively of hardened Democratic operatives and socialists such as Sean McElwee, who has demanded Congress abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and implement the far-left Green New Deal.

Of bipartisanship, McElwee told a reporter last year, “I hate Republicans a lot and don’t talk to them.” “You don’t win over these people, you crush them,” the Marxist wrote in early 2019. “I don’t make friends with Republican operatives. I don’t try to reach across the aisle. I think they’re bad people and I don’t want to be associated with them.”

“Dark Money” Ties

Both the Fair Elections Center and SEAN have “dark money” ties that aren’t advertised on their websites.

Both groups were incubated by the New Venture Fund, the flagship nonprofit in the $635 million “dark money” empire run by the consulting firm Arabella Advisors. SEAN is little more than a gauzy website and a front for the New Venture Fund. The Fair Elections Center spun off from the Arabella-run group sometime in 2015–2016, netting hundreds of thousands of dollars from liberal donors such as the MacArthur Foundation in the process.

Arabella’s network is arguably the world’s most prolific producer of “pop-up” groups—so-called because they can appear and disappear in seconds, making the extent of Arabella’s pop-up advocacy difficult to track. Arabella has created at least 340 such groups over the past 15 years. These pop-ups don’t file Form 990 reports with the IRS, and nearly nothing about their internal budgets and structure is known, making Arabella the darkest “dark money” network meddling in politics.

Beyond 2020

What’s clear is that the Left is looking far beyond the 2020 election with plans to make electing anyone other than Democrats nearly impossible. Automatic voter registration, enfranchisement of convicted criminals, vote by mail, mass voter mobilization for left-leaning voters, and efforts to sideline the Electoral College with popular vote schemes are different tools for the same agenda: permanent control of American politics.

With funders like Arabella Advisors, leftists may have the cash to do it.

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is an Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. He is a native of Orange County, California, and a graduate of Sonoma State University.
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