Washington, D.C.’s Revised Criminal Code Act, which softens penalties for a wide range of criminal offenses within the district, is controversial to say the least.
Last week, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted to block the legislation after far-left members of the DC City Council overrode the veto of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). Proponents are hopeful that the legislation will be upheld in the Senate. New information about the sources of funding behind the bill’s main backers, however, brings its grassroots credentials into question.
One of the biggest supporters of the Revised Criminal Code Act has been a nonprofit organization known as the DC Justice Lab. Founded in 2019 by George Washington University Law Professor Patrice Sulton, DCJL has supported several “reform” campaigns within the district while raking in $1.7 million in total donations as of 2021. Though DCJL maintains the outward appearance of a grassroots group, most of its funding has come from some of the deepest and darkest pockets in the political activism world.
Most donations to DCJL are completely untraceable because the organization does not disclose its donors, but one of the largest known donors to DCJL is FWD.us, a nonprofit advocacy group created and funded by Facebook’s billionaire co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, in 2013. The group provided DCJL with a $500,000 grant in 2021. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are well-known supporters of left-wing criminal justice reform and are rapidly becoming kingpins for the destructive ideology. In 2021, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative announced a $450 million commitment to “Accelerate Criminal Justice & Immigration Reform,” which sent a whopping $100 million to FWD.us. DCJL is so tightly connected to Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, in fact, that the two recently split the bill on a public opinion poll . That poll concluded, amazingly, that most Washington voters supported the new criminal code.
Another large grant to DCJL of $200,000 came from the Public Welfare Foundation. The PWF, which DCJL just so happens to share an address with, is now one of the biggest backers of disastrous criminal justice policy in the Washington area. Since 2019, PWF has granted $500,000 to the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington-based criminal justice reform think tank that co-signed a letter to Congress supporting the new criminal code alongside DCJL, FWD.us, and other groups that have also received PWF funding. PWF itself, though, was not among the signers.
DCJL has also received large “dark money” grants from left-wing financial pass-through entities that allow funders to conceal the original source of their donated funds. DCJL received $10,000 from Borealis Philanthropy , which takes in donations from donors including George Soros and the Ford Foundation and distributes them to radical “defund the police” organizations through pooled funds like the “Black-Led Movement Fund,” and the “Communities Transforming Policing Fund.” DCJL has also received $40,000 from the Hopewell Fund , which is part of the infamous $1.5 billion Arabella Advisors network, which the Atlantic has called “the indisputable heavyweight of Democratic dark money.”
The largest source of DCJL funding, however, is the Meyer Foundation , the private foundation of Eugene Meyer, the 5th chairman of the Federal Reserve, and his wife, Agnes. According to the Meyer Foundation website , it has awarded the DCJL a whopping $800,000, $100,000 in 2020 and $700,000 in 2022, outstripping even Zuckerberg’s FWD.us. After the summer of 2020, the foundation “dedicated itself to the pursuit of a Greater Washington where systemic racism, and its consequences no longer exist.” This apparently means generously funding left-wing political operations in the Washington area. The Meyer Foundation has also given $200,000 to Black Lives Matter DC.
Following the money makes it clear that the DCJL and the Revised Criminal Code Act did not emerge organically. It was wealthy ideological interests that carried the bill from start to finish, not the poor communities that will ultimately be devastated by the increased crime the bill will bring. With hundreds of thousands of dollars from billionaires both alive and dead, and thousands more from anonymous deep-pocketed dark money interests, the DCJL represents everything about money in politics that the Left pretends to hate.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on February 18, 2023.