Organization Trends

What Is Arabella Advisors Holdings? And What Is It Hiding?


Arabella Advisors likes to present itself as a smallish consultancy that likes to help apolitical do-gooders do pretty much anything but politics. Company leadership takes an “Ah, shucks,” approach when asked about its $1.7 billion nonprofit empire, as if the most powerful liberal lobbying force in Washington blinked into existence when they weren’t looking.

Even the Left isn’t buying it anymore. The Atlantic recently called Arabella’s network “the massive progressive dark-money group you’ve never heard of” and credits it with helping Democrats surpass Republicans “in untraceable political spending.”

Yet the company maintains that its “impact investing” services—lefty code for using capital to effect policy change—are equal opportunity. “We do not pursue a particular ideology,” its website claims.

Maybe not—but its vast nonprofit network certainly does, spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year bankrolling Democratic reelection campaigns, pro-gerrymandering litigation groups, and professional activists working 24/7 to shift the country permanently leftward. If that doesn’t qualify as a “particular ideology,” this writer doesn’t know what does.

Don’t take just my word for it. The Washington Post, New York Times, and Politico have all documented the Arabella network’s unmatched influence in our nation’s marbled halls.

Despite this mountain of evidence, the company writes that Capital Research Center has promoted “false claims about Arabella Advisors and some of our clients” since 2019. These “false claims” aren’t listed or described, only asserted.

We pride ourselves on maintaining the absolute highest degree of journalistic integrity and have done so since 1984. That includes using only publicly available documents that anyone can verify—and issuing corrections where we are wrong. Yet in hundreds of articles written across three years we’ve never been contacted by Arabella or its “clients” (all of which share the company’s address) about these “false claims.”

We prize transparency. Can Arabella say the same?

Digging Deeper

Newly found documents reveal peculiarities in the company’s structure.

Arabella Advisors LLC, which was founded in Virginia but headquartered in District of Columbia, reports one beneficial owner: Jennifer Steans, president and CEO of Financial Investments Corporation (FIC) and a partner at Concentric Equity Partners, both Chicago-based private asset management firms. Concentric Equity Partners is owned by FIC.

 

Steans herself has no apparent connection to Arabella Advisors or its founder, Eric Kessler, but she is a substantial Democratic donor, giving at least $226,000 to Democratic candidates since the mid-1990s.

According to reports from the Illinois secretary of state, Arabella Advisors LLC is controlled by Arabella Acquisition LLC, which is either a Virginia or Illinois corporation—online reports vary but neither state lists it in their databases. So who owns Arabella Acquisition LLC?

Add another mysterious entity found in the District of Columbia’s business records: Arabella Advisors Holdings LLC, formed in June 2021.

https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2022/03/arabella-advisors-holdings-beneficial-owners-03.10.22.png

Unlike Arabella Advisors itself, this holding company (assuming that’s what it is) lists a number of beneficial owners, including:

  • Founder, senior managing director, and principal Eric Kessler;
  • Senior managing director and principal Bruce Boyd;
  • Outgoing CEO Sampriti Ganguli;
  • Chief Operating Officer Chris Hobbs;
  • Senior Managing Director Gwen Walden;
  • Chief Strategy and Impact Officer Hilary Cherner;
  • Chief Financial Officer Wilbur Priester;
  • Bruce W. Boyd 2017 Gift Trust; and
  • Concentric Equity Partners II, LP – Arabella Series.

There’s no publicly available information on the Boyd Trust. Steans’s Concentric Equity Partners is also a black hole, but likely a fund managed by the private investment firm for Kessler’s benefit. (Where the “II” comes into play is still unclear.)

Arabella’s Shell Game

So what’s the true structure of Arabella Advisors—a set of shell companies controlling a consulting firm that, to borrow a verb from the company, “manages” a fleet of politically active nonprofits? Curious minds ought to inquire.

Very little of this arrangement is clear, and we hope to unveil more of it in the near future. But what’s certain is that there’s far more to Arabella Advisors than meets the eye.

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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