Deception & Misdirection

The Left-Wing Dark Money Behind the Push to Kill the Filibuster

Sixty left-wing groups led by Fix Our Senate recently issued a letter demanding the Senate abolish the filibuster so “democracy legislation” will pass and the party now narrowly controlling Congress can rewrite all 50 states’ election laws.

Two big secrets lie behind this push to kill the filibuster and, supposedly, protect “voting rights.” First, this lobbying campaign is driven not by grassroots groups of ordinary people but by left-wing megadonors and the AstroTurf groups they fund. The second secret: This scheme isn’t about “protecting Democracy” because overwhelming majorities of our democracy’s citizens support the state election laws that these deep-pocketed special interests want snuffed out.

This fight is about the 2022 and 2024 elections, which liberal activists fear will go badly for them unless all the dubious changes in election laws and practices they finagled in 2020 are repeated. Nse Ufot, who leads a get-out-the-vote group founded by Stacey Abrams, confessed to Politico, “If there isn’t a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we’re f***ed.”

Ufot’s “we” doesn’t refer to all in this democracy but only to the partisans she’s serving.

The same partisanship afflicts the Fix Our Senate nonprofit group that made a splash with its 60-group letter. The legacy media kept the secret, calling Fix Our Senate just a “pro-reform group.” Actually, though Fix Our Senate claims it “represents millions of Americans,” it’s a pop-up group, one of hundreds of fiscally sponsored projects in the “dark money” empire operated by Arabella Advisors, the in-house nonprofit groups of which took in $1.7 billion last year.

Here’s more of the secret: Another letter-signer, Evergreen Action, is yet another front group Arabella operates via its Sixteen Thirty Fund, which Politico called a “liberal dark-money behemoth.”

At least 17 additional nonprofit groups that signed the letter have received $10 million from Arabella’s coffers, Capital Research Center reports. In other words, the dozens of groups demanding the Senate overturn 50 states’ elections laws don’t represent millions of people in those states. They represent a handful of billionaires who liberally fund AstroTurf activism. As Arabella brags , it serves “clients representing more than $100 billion in assets.”

Those clients spent handsomely in 2020. They helped orchestrate victories for left-of-center candidates, including by backing groups involved in a left-wing network Time called a “cabal” that changed how elections are run. Now, they want to be paid back for their investment. But the Left’s agenda has stalled in Congress. Rather than compromise, the megadonors have set their sights on the filibuster.

That leads to the second big secret in the filibuster fight: It is fundamentally anti-democratic. Most want it to be easy to vote but hard to cheat.

Last year, states such as Texas and Georgia passed reforms that expanded early-voting opportunities, streamlined absentee ballot procedures, and improved protections for mail-in ballots. Georgia now offers more early-voting days than deep-blue New York or New Jersey.

The policies in those bills are popular. In fact, public support for photo ID laws, the Left’s most hated election integrity provision, grew last year. More than 3 in 4 black and Hispanic voters, 67% of Democrats, and 82% of independent voters back them. That’s real grassroots support.

Arabella and its dark money backers are using groups such as Fix Our Senate to create the illusion of popular outrage. They want to give narrow partisan majorities in Congress cover to junk the filibuster and impose unpopular, and likely unconstitutional, laws that would make elections harder to run and jeopardize public trust in voting.

H.R. 1 , for instance, directs taxpayer funds to politicians’ campaigns, eliminates voter ID laws, and legalizes vote trafficking, the practice with which political operatives approach voters and collect their mail-in ballots without supervision.

If the media stopped hiding the big secrets in this scam, we’re confident large majorities would recoil in horror at the prospect of either party’s members of Congress, or D.C. bureaucrats, setting election rules nationwide, much less eliminating safeguards the public favors, such as voter ID.

The left-wing push to take over elections poses a grave danger to our democratic institutions, even if it doesn’t succeed. Activist groups and the megadonors backing them have convinced millions that future elections will be rigged through “voter suppression.”

If they truly want healthy democracy, they should face voters honestly, not hide behind dark secrets.


This op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on January 22, 2022. 

Jason Snead

Jason Snead is executive director of Honest Elections Project.
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Scott Walter

Scott Walter is president of Capital Research Center. He served in the George W. Bush Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and was vice president at…
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