Organization Trends

Sixteen Thirty Fund’s “Dark Money” Boosting Democrats in Midterms


To no one’s surprise, the Arabella network’s advocacy arms are spending heavily to boost Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.

Since the beginning of the midterm cycle in January 2021, Arabella’s North Fund has routed another $4.1 million into the left-wing Somos PAC, providing almost 57 percent of its total contributions to date. Somos turns out Democratic Latino voters and is run by Melissa Morales, an ex-Florida state director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—one of Big Labor’s most politically active unions.

Its older sibling, the Sixteen Thirty Fund—the Arabella network’s original in-house 501(c)(4)— is the sole donor to Change Now, which has received $372,000 from the group since early last year and routed $278,000 funds to Somos PAC.

In total, Sixteen Thirty Fund has poured out nearly $4.5 million into partisan committees.

Open Democracy PAC

At the top of the list is Open Democracy PAC, which aims to “stop election subversionists” and “extremists” (translation: election integrity advocates) by endorsing Democrats running for everything from county clerk to governor. Its ultimate aim is to blanket the country in the Left’s vaunted automatic voter registration laws and, bizarrely, “eliminate rules disenfranchising voters because of race”—as if it’s 1859.

At least 76 percent ($2.45 million) of Open Democracy’s contributions came from Sixteen Thirty Fund. Much of that money was paid out to consultants like BerlinRosen to purchase campaign ads attacking Republicans or aiding Democrats. It’s also purchased $52,000 in legal services from the Elias Law Group, the law firm of Democracy superlawyer Marc Elias—who happens to sit on the committee’s advisory board.

And Open Democracy has transferred tens of thousands of dollars to PACs associated with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Nevada secretary of state candidate Cisco Aguilar, Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, and Democrats running for state legislative seats.

Notably, the committee’s advisory board includes Jake Matilsky, an activist who leads the election “reform” advocacy group Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME)—a front for Arabella’s top 501(c)(3), New Venture Fund. (Sixteen Thirty Fund runs its “sister” group, CSME Action.)

Alaska

In March, Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed $600,000 to Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action—100 percent of its revenues. As of writing, it’s spent $104,000, largely in independent expenditures attacking Republicans and praising Democrats in Alaska, including notables like Mary Peltola—the recent winner of the state’s special House election—and attacking her opponent, former Gov. Sarah Palin (R).

The committee’s website says it’s “an organization working to support the champions who fight to protect Bristol Bay, its Indigenous Peoples, its fishermen, and Alaska’s economy from the dangerous Pebble Mine,” referring to a proposed copper mine in southwest Alaska and a long-time target of environmentalists. At least one anti-Pebble group casting itself as a local champion, SalmonState, is actually a front for Arabella’s New Venture Fund.

Similarly, Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action is run by fundraising consultant Jennifer May, whose official bio on her company’s website boasts that May lives in Washington, DC, and does finance work for campaigns in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—pretty much anywhere but Alaska.

Demand Justice

The Arabella network’s most notorious spawn is Demand Justice, a former Sixteen Thirty Fund “pop-up” created first to attack President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees and later switched to court-packing schemes.

Demand Justice almost single-handedly lobbied Justice Ketanji Jackson from a lower court to the nation’s highest court in a scant few years—something Arabella Advisors itself is quick to say it had no hand in. “In fact, Arabella Advisors does not work for Demand Justice in any capacity,” its website claims.

That may be true of the company, but not of Arabella’s nonprofit network.

Sixteen Thirty Fund pumped $110,000 into Demand Justice’s PAC, providing roughly one-third of its contributions in the 2022 cycle and making it the PAC’s second-largest contributor after Demand Justice itself.

Much of that money was paid to consultancies like Mothership Strategies and Scasey Communications—the latter active in Wisconsin races—for independent expenditures and digital consulting. Another $50,000 went to the Big Labor–aligned Working Families Party in New York.

More Money for the Left

Sixteen Thirty Fund has also funneled $285,000 to Family Friendly Action PAC, which is affiliated with a nonprofit founded by a Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign donor. The PAC has spent heavily boosting Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Senate candidates Mandela Barnes (D-WI) and John Fetterman (D-PA).

Sixteen Thirty Fund also contributed $325,000 to Casa in Action, an illegal immigration advocacy group active in Maryland and Virginia; $50,000 to the National Democratic Training Committee, which trains Democratic political candidates; and $250,000 to Forward Majority Action, a partisan super PAC that redirects funds to state chapters working to elect Democrats.

With the Left, there’s always more “dark money” to throw at elections. But will it help the Democrats hold Congress?

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is a Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. He is also a columnist at the Washington Free Beacon and writes regularly for the American Conservative. Ludwig is…
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