How the Supreme Court agenda is shaped by right-wing billionaire money

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Washing away the money after receiving the largest known political advocacy donation in U.S. history, conservative activist Leonard Leo and his associates have influenced some of the Supreme Court’s most important recent cases. We spend millions of dollars to give. pro publica and the lever show.

Documents allow Leo, who helped build a conservative majority on the Supreme Court as an adviser to President Donald Trump, to end affirmative action, roll back anti-discrimination protections and allow unreviewable oversight by state legislatures It details how it has used a vast network of opaque non-profits to fund groups that claim to do so. federal election.

Records also show that nonprofits working with Leos have paid millions of dollars to Leo-affiliated commercial organizations.

Leo and one of his best buddies did not respond to requests for comment.

Funds flowed through so-called dark money groups that do not require disclosure of donors. They are required to disclose the recipient of the expenditure on their annual tax returns, which are made available to the public, but in many cases they are also dark money groups or other entities with minimal disclosure rules.

As pro publica and the lever As detailed in August, Leo was gifted a $1.6 billion fortune last year by reclusive manufacturing tycoon Valeseido. Newly revealed tax documents cover the last year when Leo received that huge donation.

A Supreme Court case involving a Colorado-based website designer who refused to work for same-sex couples provides a window into Leo’s strategy.

At least six groups funded by Leo’s network have filed papers in support of lawsuits seeking to overturn Colorado’s antidiscrimination laws. The Center for Ethics and Public Policy, which received his $1.9 million from Leo’s network, submitted a brief in favor of the web designer, according to records. So does an organization called “Concerned Women for America,” which received at least $565,000 from Leo Network over the past two years, and the “Beckett Foundation,” which received her $550,000 from Leo’s group.

Leo’s network spends money to elect Republican Attorneys General and is also the largest funder of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which serves as a policy hub for state officials. Twenty Republican attorneys general have also filed opinions supporting the case, with one Leo group giving his $6.5 million to her RAGA during his 2022 election campaign, according to the association’s federal filings. donated to

Leo’s network’s largest donation was $71 million given to DonorsTrust, a so-called donor-advised fund that pools funds from numerous donors and donates primarily to conservative and libertarian groups. Past reports have referred to DonorsTrust as a conservative “dark money ATM.”

Another case where Leo groups have tried to influence is: moore vs harper, could have a significant impact on American democracy. The question raised in this case is whether the Constitution authorizes state legislatures to make rules for federal elections without the oversight or intervention of state courts.

The Honest Election Project, an initiative within the 85 Foundation, another major Leo organization, is supporting the plaintiffs’ lawsuit in Amicus Brief. Tax documents show the 85 Foundation that in 2020 he donated $400,000 to the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group based in Indianapolis.

Thirteen Republican attorneys general have also filed arguments supporting the lawsuit.

The Supreme Court is also reviewing two lawsuits this semester brought by students seeking fair admission by conservative group students challenging the university’s affirmative action policy. The group received $250,000 from the 85 Fund in 2020. More than a third of the total raised that year, according to tax records.

Speech First, which received $700,000 for 2020-2021 from the 85 Foundation, submitted briefs in favor of students seeking fair admissions in both cases, according to records. A Republican attorney general, backed by Leo’s network, also submitted a brief.

Another theme that will emerge from the new tax records is large expenditures on Leo-operated or Leo-related commercial entities. The 85 Fund’s largest external vendor in 2021 was CRC Advisors, a for-profit consulting firm chaired by Leo. The 85 Fund paid CRC advisers his $22 million last year, according to tax records.

Another hub in Leo’s network, Concord Fund’s largest outside vendor was also CRC Advisors, which received nearly $8 million in one year. Concord also paid his $500,000 to He BH Group, another commercial company headed by Leo.

There is nothing prohibiting non-profits from sending business to companies with which they have ties, but transactions must be at fair market value.

Both companies did not immediately respond to questions about payment.


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