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Report Warns Of ‘Dark Money’ Funding a Grab Bag Of Liberal Causes

This article originally appeared in the Daily Caller on April 17, 2019.

Dark money is funding a variety of progressive causes and opposing policies of the Trump administration, according to a report released Wednesday by the the Capital Research Center (CRC).

The report, entitled “Big Money In Dark Shadows: The Arabella Advisors’ Half-billion-dollar ‘Dark Money’ Network,’” focuses on how money is funneled into left-wing causes under the guise of philanthropy. The report borrows a definition of dark money from the Center for Responsive Politics, calling it how “spending from undisclosed sources influences political outcomes.”

The CRC notes that even “the left-leaning Politico” identified the dark money funding left-wing causes in article that discussed the “liberal secret-money network” that was working to win elections for Democrats and defeat Republicans.

“The groups have local members and names like Floridians for a Fair Shake, Michigan Families for Economic Prosperity and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. But they are all linked to one obscure nonprofit in downtown Washington, D.C.: the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which has funneled millions of dollars to progressive causes in recent years and set up each of the new groups, according to D.C. corporation records,” the article states.

Follow the money back to its source and you enter the doors of Arabella Advisors, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm that promotes “strategic philanthropy” that the CRC reports dismisses as “guiding grants to left-wing causes.” Calling the company “a lobbying shop in charity’s clothing,” the report notes that Arabella is sitting on a substantial nest egg. It doles out cash from a net worth of more than $100 billion, according to Arabella’s website.

Former Clinton administration employee Eric Kessler founded Arabella Advisors in 2005 and according to the CRC report it today “runs a network of hundreds of ‘front’ groups” that are usually little more than websites devoted to a particular policy concern or opposing a particular Trump administration appointment. When not promoting abortion or Obamacare, one “front” group took a leading role in undercutting Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. A report from the period confirms that “anonymous donors” were working to stop Kavanaugh.

The relationship gets even more arcane as these groups are divided among four nonprofits controlled by Arabella, according to the CRC report. These four nonprofits are governed by boards of directors composed of Arabella representatives.

“But the real stars of the Arabella network are the New Venture Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund,” the report states. “The pair regularly work hand-in-hand to maximize the effectiveness of their ‘pop-up’ campaigns.”

The report indicates that the two funds work in tandem, with the New Venture responsible for fundraising and the Sixteen Thirty fund looking after “advocacy and lobbying.”

The CRC does acknowledge that “Arabella’s nonprofit network has given a modest share of its grants to nonprofits that practice genuine charity, such as various cancer research centers in California, Boston Medical Center, and similar organizations.”