Deception & Misdirection
Millions in “Dark Money” Bankrolled 2022 State Secretary of State Campaigns
The Left loves to complain about “dark money,” or money given anonymously to political action committees (PACs) by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. Democratic senators such as Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have recently pushed legislation to overturn Supreme Court precedent and force 501(c)(4)’s to disclose their donors’ private information. And earlier this year, President Joe Biden has even argued that “dark money erodes public trust.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times has reported that Democrats used more “dark money” than Republicans in 2020, while Politico more recently exposed that “The White House-blessed “dark money” group Building Back Together brought in about $41 million last year and spent about $28 million of it on advertising.”
Evidently, “dark money” is selectively corrosive, damaging the public trust only when Republicans use it.
In 2022, though, Democrats were so willing to use these “corrosive” funds that their bloated “dark money” coffers spilled over from the usual House and Senate campaigns to leak an unprecedented $8 million into state secretary of state campaigns as well.
A Shell Game
Safe Accessible Fair Elections (SAFE) is a PAC created by the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS). The name sounds innocent enough, and according to reports it was to be the host of the “first round . . . of an $11 million campaign in Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada” by the DASS.
As it turns out, that $11 million wasn’t going to come from the DASS at all.
Behind the scenes, and unreported by the media, over 80 percent of SAFE’s funding ($8 million) came from the “dark money” organization Every Eligible American (EEA). IRS records show SAFE receiving millions from Every Eligible American, which happens to share the exact same address in Washington, DC.
In fact, SAFE, DASS, and EEA all list the same political compliance firm as their address, and even though EEA has not made information on its finances and structure public, the IRS database lists Kim Rogers, executive director of the DASS, as EEA’s principal officer.
This means that the DASS went out of its way to create an internally controlled “dark money” slush fund that could accept huge donations and funnel the cash into an unassuming in-house PAC, which could then finance candidate’s campaigns while hiding the original source of the money.
That’s about as dark as “dark money” gets.
How Do You Do, Fellow Gen Zers?
Using the three step cleaning process, the DASS used EEA to bankroll hundreds of SAFE Facebook and Instagram ads backing Steve Simon (D-MN) and Jocelyn Benson (D-MI) that received millions of combined views. Meanwhile, Every Eligible American was spending big on Facebook ads as well. District of Columbia corporation records reveal EEA created another front group called Go Down for Democracy to give the anonymous “dark money” slush fund a youthful face that could appeal to Gen Z voters.
Their website, featuring an over-chromatic art style and convincingly rebellious slogans like “OUR GENERATION IS GETTING F**CKED” presented a facade that did a good job hiding the “dark money” puppet masters underneath.
Go Down for Democracy also seems to have been connected to the similarly named Get Down for Democracy virtual music festival hosted in October that raised funds for the DASS and used a very similar art style and message in promotional materials. The festival featured appearances by high-profile guests including Amy Schumer, John Fetterman, Stacey Abrams, Journee Smollett (hate-crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett’s sister), and Arizona Secretary of State Candidate Adrian Fontes.
Where Did the Money Come from?
SAFE, EEA, and Go Down for Democracy spent over $8 million in “dark money” among themselves to get out the vote for Democratic secretary of state candidates in key swing states during 2020. Where could this money have come from, and why did the DASS want it concealed?
Because EEA is a new organization, it does not yet have any Form 990s available, and IRS rules don’t require financial disclosures for 2022 to be available for several more years. As a result, very little information is available to even make a guess.
The District of Columbia corporate registry, which lists EEA’s owners, might give some clues. EEA’s owners include Kim Rogers of the DASS; Ariel Hays, National Political Director of the Sierra Club; Whitney Porter, seemingly from an organization called Jews for Justice; Sarah Edwards, whose name is too common to determine a possible affiliation; and Judith Zamore, a legal compliance consultant.
Perhaps the Sierra Club, Jews for Justice, an affiliate of the mysterious Sarah Edwards, or a combination of all three is behind the $8 million in “dark money.” But until more information becomes available nothing can be said for sure.
It’s also possible that the money came from none of the above, as there are several other possible sources of cash. For example, possibilities include the omnipresent funding of George Soros. Soros’s Democracy PAC II contributed $1 million to the DASS this cycle. Soros is no stranger to using “dark money” organizations, so it’s plausible that Soros supported the DASS’s complimentary “dark money” fund. Other possible donors include billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, who donated $2 million to the DASS this year, and big labor unions like the Communications Workers of America, which gave the DASS $250,000.
The Left Is Not Serious About “Dark Money”
The Left’s “dark money” habit, which used to be restrained to just the top-spot races, has developed into a full-blown addiction that has spread gradually down the ballot. Left-wing complaints about “dark money” in elections simply can’t be taken seriously until the DASS and EEA are made to offer an explanation.
If “dark money” truly “erodes public trust” and has no place in our elections, then Democrats will need to grapple with the fact that their own candidates who actually run the elections are benefitting from millions of dollars in “dark money” contributions themselves.