WaPo Fact Checker Carries Water for Leftist “Dark Money” Group Behind Biden’s SCOTUS Pick
Arabella Advisors is the most powerful liberal lobbying force in Washington, but Glenn Kessler aims his fire at conservative groups.
One aspect of President Joe Biden’s pick for the coming Supreme Court vacancy isn’t up for debate: Whatever her credentials, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is the “dark money” left’s choice for the nation’s highest court. So why is the Washington Post, which normally decries “dark money,” carrying water for one of the darkest groups in politics?
WaPo columnist Glenn Kessler recently “marvel[ed] at the hypocrisy” of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network’s “attacks” on Demand Justice (a partisan activist group backing Jackson with a $1 million advertising spree) and its close ties to the multi-billion-dollar nonprofit network that spawned it. That network, run by Arabella Advisors LLC, raked in nearly $1.7 billion in 2020 alone, much of it from wealthy left-wing donors and their family foundations. It’s the most powerful liberal lobbying force in Washington.
Yet the Post wants the public to ignore Arabella, since Demand Justice spun off from Arabella’s network last year after spending its first three years as just an accounting code inside Arabella’s Sixteen Thirty Fund. Besides, Kessler assures us, the Arabella behemoth is apolitical because it “essentially provides back-office support, compliance assistance, and grant-processing to liberal philanthropic and nonprofit group,” including those “incorporated so they can received [sic] donations from undisclosed donors.”
Capital Research Center (CRC) was the first to expose the Arabella network to the world and was pleased to help change the narrative about “dark money” by documenting how the left benefits from it more than the right does. A lot more.
So to see Kessler and the Post downplay what the Arabella network does, while inadvertently confirming its vast size and influence — something the left-leaning media has ignored for years — strikes us at the CRC as, frankly, hilarious.
So, to reiterate: Arabella’s in-house nonprofits specialize in “pop-up” campaigns: Creating fake front groups that fool the public into believing they’re independent, grassroots-activist groups based anywhere but D.C. Really, these “pop-up” groups let large foundations and mega-donors quietly fund grubby politics without polluting the rarified air of philanthropy they want you to think they inhabit. The Arabella network has spawned at least 400 such groups since 2006.
Credit Kessler for pointing out that Arabella Advisors has “collected management fees worth nearly $50 million” from the network since its inception. Bonus points for noting that company founder Eric Kessler (no relation to Glenn) for years chaired the board of its advocacy arm, Sixteen Thirty Fund, and of its biggest pass-through nonprofit, New Venture Fund. He might’ve added that all four nonprofits appear to share Arabella’s D.C. address and have interlocking boards that until recently included sharing Arabella’s general counsel and chief financial officer.
Kessler fails to note that Sixteen Thirty Fund created Demand Justice in 2018 to derail Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation with rallies and a smear website (StopKavanaugh.com) and did the same with Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020. Ditto another Arabella spin-off, the ironically named Fix the Court, which filled websites (BrettKavanaugh.com) with links to sexual assault support groups in order to smear the nominee as a rapist.
Nor does Kessler inform the public that Demand Justice is the left’s chief court-packing pressure group. Also left unmentioned is the $454,000 Sixteen Thirty Fund gave to Demand Justice’s PAC to elect Democrats in 2020, which was 62 percent of the PAC’s revenues that cycle.
Demand Justice’s blatant partisanship and obvious “dark money” ties may make things tough for Senate Democrats’ thin majority as it tries to place Jackson on the Supreme Court. But the Post’s editors clearly intend to do whatever they can to help the Democrats.
In addition to Kessler’s amusing “fact-check,” the Post also published an op-ed by the Senate’s biggest “dark money” hypocrite, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island. The controversy over the vast Arabella network is now so loud that even he felt obliged, finally, to mention its existence, even as he hinted it was smaller than the conservative network he’s smearing.
But compare the senator’s griping over anonymous gifts to his nemesis versus the cash that Demand Justice’s original parent, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, took in: the highest the senator can object to is $48 million in 2020. But the same year, Sixteen Thirty snagged the following anonymous gifts in that range: $45 million + $46 million + $53 million + $86 million.
The final proof of the Post’s hypocrisy: its own editorial board was horrified in 2019 at an anonymous $26.7 million donation to Sixteen Thirty Fund: “Who are these donors? The public will not find out.” (We later told them the cash came from another Arabella nonprofit, New Venture Fund.)
Back then, the Post wondered if this left-wing giant was “part of a larger network of dark money.” Today’s Post would rather you not know.
This article originally appeared in The Federalist on March 14, 2022.