Deception & Misdirection

Mystery Donor Revealed: Mark Zuckerberg Backed Radical DA Candidates


In 2018, just outside Portland, Oregon, longtime Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann announced his retirement. To those in the know, it was obvious that Kevin Barton, a moderate independent and Hermann’s longtime lieutenant, was the best man to fill the spot.

Well-liked and with no Republican challengers, Barton was running unopposed. The people of Washington County were content to have a sleepy election and calm transition of power.

See Parker Thayer’s related report on Fox News here.

However, hundreds of miles away a “dark money” group with $10 million from Mark Zuckerberg and zero connection to Washington County decided that this was unacceptable. To them, it was obvious that Washington County really needed a high-dollar competitive election with a radical left-wing contender. The people just didn’t know it yet.

Almost overnight, the race became the most expensive district attorney election in state history.

In the leadup to the election, Whitney Tymas, a DC-based political strategist who operates a nationwide network of political action committees (PACs) funded by George Soros, parachuted into Washington County to procure a suitably left-wing candidate to run against Barton.

Eventually, a candidate was found. After meeting with Tymas, left-wing defense attorney Max Wall unexpectedly entered the race on the last possible day, accompanied by rumors that he had suddenly found a donor with very deep pockets. Wall’s announcement was promptly followed by $680,000 in support from the Law and Justice PAC.

How Zuckerberg Covered His Tracks

George Soros’s well-documented history of spending on district attorney races led to speculation that Soros was providing the money. Representatives of Wall’s campaign denied the allegation, and reports surfaced that “a person claiming to represent the New York public relations firm that scheduled Wall’s TV ads said the money was not coming from Soros, but would not reveal the true identity [of the donor].” The denial did little to quell rumors. Allegations of accepting “dirty money” continued to plague his campaign, but neither Wall nor the Safety and Justice PAC came forward to disclose the real donor.

After the election, it was revealed that the Law and Justice PAC was funded almost entirely by a $2 million grant from the Accountable Justice Action Fund (AJAF), a 501(c)(4) “dark money” nonprofit. AJAF itself is a segregated fund for criminal justice reform created by yet another nonprofit named Open Philanthropy, the philanthropic brainchild of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

Open Philanthropy Action Fund, Open Philanthropy’s 501(c)(4) affiliate, reported donating $6.3 million to AJAF in 2017, so reporters naturally concluded that Moskovitz, not Soros, was Wall’s mystery donor. Strangely, representatives of Moskovitz also denied being the anonymous supporter: “Dustin Moscovitz and the Open Philanthropy Project did not provide any funding for the Oregon election work; we are a minority of the overall funding to AJAF” [emphasis added].

Reporters and pundits were stumped, and up until now the identity of Wall’s secret supporter has remained a mystery. If it was not Soros or Moscovitz, who was it?

Capital Research Center has discovered that the roughly $17 million dollars that AJAF reported receiving in 2018 came from just two large donors. The Open Philanthropy Action Fund contributed $6.3 million, and Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy, the 501(c)(4) wing of Zuckerberg’s philanthropic empire, contributed the remaining $10 million. With Dustin Moskovitz and Soros ruled out, Max Wall’s mystery donor must be Mark Zuckerberg.

The Blowouts

With the $2 million dollar contribution to Law and Justice PAC, passed first through a daisy chain of “dark money” groups to hide the source, Mark Zuckerberg turned the Washington County district attorney race into a tremendous blowout. Unfortunately for Zuckerberg, it was not a blowout in Max Wall’s favor. Zuckerberg’s multi-million-dollar investment in the Law and Justice PAC turned out to be a tremendous waste.

Max Wall received just 30 percent of the vote, losing badly to the more moderate Kevin Barton. Thanks to Zuckerberg, it was the most expensive district attorney race in Oregon history, but apparently all the money in the world couldn’t have helped Wall overcome his lack of experience and the popular opposition to his radical policies.

The Law and Justice PAC was also active in Nevada during 2018. The PAC spent over $400,000 supporting the campaign of Rob Langford for Clark County District Attorney against Democratic incumbent Steve Wolfson, and the results were identical. Langford, the more progressive candidate, lost handily to Wolfson in the primary.

Just as in Washington County, Zuckerberg’s involvement in the Clark County race was not discovered until now.

In the end, Wall’s and Langford’s refusals to identify their mystery donors torpedoed their chances of earning the votes of reform-minded Democrats, who were suspicious of their outside “dark money” ties, and for good reason. In the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Houston where large donations by Soros and other billionaires have helped progressive DA candidates into office, violent crime rates have skyrocketed as these “rogue prosecutors” use their position to enact de facto criminal justice reforms, bypassing the legislative process.

Utopian Nightmares

From refusing to prosecute thefts under $750 to releasing rioters and misdemeanor offenders without bail on the day of arrest, the leaders of this extra-legislative reform movement have done exactly what their billionaire supporters wanted, and the consequences have been disastrous.

But why should billionaires like Soros or Zuckerberg care? It costs them relatively nothing to fund utopian reform experiments in places they will never live. And when their experiments inevitably fail, they will never live with the consequences. After disaster ensues, they can simply attribute the failure to white supremacy, structural racism, or capitalism and try again.

Parker Thayer

Parker Thayer is a research assistant at Capital Research Center. A native of Michigan, he recently graduated from Hillsdale College.
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