Deception & Misdirection

Sixteen Thirty Fund Funneling “Dark Money” into Left-Wing PACs

A “dark money” giant is funneling millions of dollars into the 2020 election to tilt the outcome in favor of Democrats—while complaining about money in politics.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund is the in-house lobbying wing of the $600 million funding empire run by Arabella Advisors, the company responsible for a set of four nonprofits created to help Arabella’s ultra-wealthy clients quietly funnel billions of dollars into changing policy and electing “Progressives” to office. The extent of this liberal behemoth is charted in CRC’s recent report, The Shadow over America: Arabella Advisors’ $635 Million Empire in 2018.

Millions for Biden PAC

Sixteen Thirty has already poured a staggering $26.5 million into super PACs aiding Democrats in the 2019–20 election cycle, according to its FEC filings. Under IRS rules, 501(c)(4) nonprofits such as Sixteen Thirty are allowed to donate to super PACs, which can spend unlimited sums on “independent expenditures” such as TV advertisements so long as they don’t coordinate with a political campaign.

That includes $3.5 million to Priorities USA, a leading PAC aligned with 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and another $3.5 million to Unite the Country, a super PAC formed in 2019 to help the campaign of 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

But Sixteen Thirty’s single biggest contribution was a whopping $5.7 million to Victory 2020, a super PAC created in May that’s so obscure it doesn’t have a website. FEC filings show that Victory 2020 passed a cool $3.6 million to Unite the Country on the same day (June 30, 2020) it received the $5.7 million infusion from Sixteen Thirty Fund.

In other words, Sixteen Thirty has passed at least $7 million to a pro-Biden super PAC since June.

Millions for Other Super PACs

And Sixteen Thirty is practically its only donor of note, accounting for 96.3 percent of the PAC’s $5.9 million in receipts as of writing. (The next-biggest donation to Victory 2020 was $75,000 from film director James L. Brooks.)

On June 30, Victory 2020 also passed nearly $3 million on to American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC formed by Republican-turned-Democratic operative David Brock to produce anti-Republican attack ads. Victory 2020 is a joint fundraising pass-through for Unite the Country and American Bridge. Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed a further $2.2 million to American Bridge on June 30.

Data on Sixteen Thirty Fund’s contributions this election cycle are compiled at InfluenceWatch, including:

  • $2.25 million to Black PAC, which mobilizes black voters to support Democrats, and
  • $2 million to PACRONYM, the PAC associated with ACRONYM, an advocacy group that provides advertising services to liberal groups and owns the company Shadow Inc., whose app bungled much of the 2020 Democratic caucuses in Iowa

A Shadow over the Election?

Sixteen Thirty Fund, like its 501(c)(3) “sister” groups in the Arabella sphere, is a pass-through service for wealthy liberal clients. Its money—$144 million in 2018 revenues—came from other organizations, not Arabella Advisors.

While the IRS doesn’t require 501(c)(4) advocacy groups to report their donors, we’ve traced nearly $10 million to grants to Sixteen Thirty between 2010 and 2018 (see InfluenceWatch), including:

  • $2 million from the State Engagement Fund, a liberal voter registration and mobilization group;
  • $1.5 million from the National Education Association; and
  • $1.2 million from AFSCME, a leading labor union.

But the Sixteen Thirty Fund is just one part in Arabella’s political machine, which distributed a combined $606 million in 2018 alone. Most of this spending ($373 million) came from the New Venture Fund, Arabella’s flagship 501(c)(3).

The New Venture Fund specializes in funneling grants from mega-funders such as the Ford and Gates Foundations into “pop-up” groups, websites made to look like fully fledged activist groups but which are little more than fronts for Arabella-run nonprofits.

We’ve counted some 340 pop-ups involved in everything from abortion access to health care to—irony of ironies—lobbying for H.R. 1, the Democrats’ dream anti-“dark money” bill. As Sixteen Thirty Fund executive director Amy Kurtz recently put it,

We support and have lobbied in favor of reform to the current campaign finance system (through H.R. 1), but we are equally committed to following the current laws to level the playing field for progressives in this election.

Arabella’s “Dark Money” Network

CRC was the first to expose this massive “dark money” network, which has since come under fire from conservatives and even the left-leaning media. And we’re continuing to investigate Arabella’s efforts to secretly fund the Left’s efforts to fundamentally transform America—one “dark money” group at a time.

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is the Director of Policy Research at Restoration of America. He was formerly Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. Ludwig is a native of Orange County, California,…
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