Deception & Misdirection

The Arabella Network’s “Dark Money” Fix for Biden’s Economic Messaging Problem

Since 2021, the Arabella Advisors network has been the shadow handmaid of the Biden administration. The administration needed a group of experts to write and refine regulatory policy for them, so the Arabella network created Governing for Impact. The administration needed a list of judges to appoint the courts, so the Arabella Advisors network offered one up through Demand Justice. Joseph Biden’s Super PAC needed money from “dark money” donors, so Arabella’s Sixteen Thirty Fund hooked them up. Now with an election looming and the majority of Americans unsatisfied with the administration’s handling of the economy, the Biden administration has a major problem, and the Arabella network is already quietly working on a solution.

Economic Speakers Bureau (ESB)—a fiscally sponsored project of the Groundwork Collaborative, which is itself a fiscally sponsored project of the New Venture Fund—was quietly launched in 2023 to broker connections between “expert” economists and journalists. The experts would help “provide incisive on-the-record commentary and robust background for journalists and outlets covering the U.S. economy and its impacts on working people.”

The group claims that it is a “diverse national network of economic policy experts.” It is neither diverse nor national. Of the 22 experts ESB lists on its website, 16 are former Biden administration appointees or officials, none of them are anything remotely close to right-leaning, and most of them are now cloistered in the halls of elite universities and Washington, DC, think tanks. Several of the experts even work for the Groundwork Collaborative, ESB’s fiscal sponsor.

Since 2023, these experts have been busy generating media hits and writing op-eds that generally reflect favorably upon the Biden administration’s economic policy—which the majority of ESB’s experts helped create. Since 2023, Capital Research Center has identified nearly 150 mainstream media articles ESB experts authored or were quoted in. Outlets included the Washington Post (16 times), Politico (16 times), CNBC (11 times), The Hill (10 times), the New York Times (10 times), and various States Newsroom outlets (8 times). States Newsroom itself is a project of the Arabella Advisors network, designed to create dozens news outlets that appear authentically local but that are actually centrally controlled.

Behind the Scenes

Similarly, the ESB is designed to look like an innocent grassroots group of economists, but a peek under the hood reveals that it is the synthesis of the nation’s largest “dark money” network and an army of former Biden administration officials desperate to put a positive spin on an economy the average person detests. Looking even closer reveals an even darker secret.

The ESB isn’t actually connecting reporters and economists at all. They list no staffers on their website, and nobody claims to be employed by the group on LinkedIn or anywhere else on the internet that our research could find. So who is actually connecting the reporters and the experts?

Well, clicking on the “Book an Expert” button on ESB’s homepage forwards users to an email address, but clicking the “Book an interview” button under the profile page of any particular speaker instead forwards users to an email address. The actual bookings of ESB experts are being farmed out to SKD Knickerbocker, the premier political consulting firm of the Democratic Party and consultant to the Biden campaign along with dozens of other Democratic Party candidates.

For those trying to keep track, that means the ESB is an Arabella front group created by another Arabella front group that hired the Democratic Party’s best public relations firm to broker media connections with a “diverse” group of economists, who just so happen to be mostly former Biden administration officials.

Meet the Experts

Of the 22 experts ESB lists on its website 16 were appointees or officials within the Biden administration, and many of them held high-ranking positions.

One expert, Ganesh Sitaraman, was nominated to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget, one of the most powerful jobs in the administration, but his nomination was tanked by a bipartisan vote because of his policy radicalism. Since 2023, when ESB was launched, quotes and bylines from Sitaraman have appeared in Time, Reuters, Politico, The Atlantic, CNN, Axios, and more.

OIRA seems to have been a favored agency for the ESB and for Arabella as a whole. Sabeel Rahman who led OIRA as an associate administrator from 2021 to 2023 is listed as an ESB expert, and quotes from Rahman praising “Bidenomics” appear in outlets such as Huffington Post, Boston Review, Politico, and more. Sharon Block, former head of OIRA from 2022, is also listed as an ESB expert with quotes and bylines appearing in the Washington Post, The Hill, and Semafor.

This was not the first time Sitaraman, Rahman, or Block—all three nominated or confirmed for senior OIRA positions—had worked with a discrete Arabella project. All three were also named in leaked documents as participants in the “listening tour” hosted by Governing for Impact, a secret regulatory policy advisory group created with funding exclusively from George Soros. Governing for Impact has boasted of successfully influencing the Biden administration’s regulatory policies more than 20 times.

Outside of OIRA, many other ESB experts worked in high-level positions.

Zach Butterworth, former White House director of private-sector engagement, appears on the list and was recently quoted in Politico alongside anonymous “senior White House official[s]” on the administration’s supposed ability to command unnamed corporations to voluntarily lower their prices. Jennifer Harris, former Special Assistant to the President for the National Economic Council, is also with ESB and was quoted three times this May alone, waving the banner for the administration’s baffling tariffs on China in the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and the Financial Times. Bharat Ramamurti, another former member of Biden’s National Economic Council, has appeared on CNBC arguing in favor of Biden’s unconstitutional student debt cancellation plans and on Bloomberg TV, where he discussed how Biden would surely skillfully navigate the economy around a government shutdown. Presumably, both TV appearances were brokered by ESB, which is to say, by SKD Knickerbocker.

Foiled Again

The Arabella network is crafty and seemingly has a quietly operating project for every policy priority of President Biden. With horrible polling on the economy and immigration as this administration’s Achilles heel, we can expect the ESB, and Arabella projects like States Newsroom, to turn the messaging dial up to 11 in the months to come. Now more than ever, for Americans need to understand the size and scope of the Left’s political machine and to understand that the faces and names they see in the news supporting the current administration might not have landed there organically.


Parker Thayer

Parker Thayer is a Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. A native of Michigan, he recently graduated from Hillsdale College.
+ More by Parker Thayer