Black money group linked to Leonard Leo disbanded
But just three days after POLITICO’s investigation, the BH fund was closed, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
Adam Kennedy, spokesman for the firm now known as CRC Advisors, which performed extensive advisory work for Leo in 2017 and is now headed by him, said the BH fund had been dormant since late 2021. He confirmed that in October “as other organizations made it obsolete”.
Indeed, Leo now manages more than $1.6 billion in conservative donor funds, and he’s building a new architecture of black money groups to manage it. Critics have long argued that understanding how Leo doled out his hoard of anonymous funds is key to understanding how the conservative legal movement claimed a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Nothing screams ‘attempts to cover up’ quite like shutting down an organization the moment you start getting questions about it,” said Saurav Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform for Campaign Legal. Center, a non-partisan nonprofit founded by a former Republican commissioner. the Federal Election Commission.
A Senate committee is currently considering a new complaint to investigate whether federal ethics rules or criminal laws were violated in Conway’s sale of his company, Senate aides confirmed.
Since POLITICO first contacted Leo and CRC last fall, they have not disputed BH Fund’s involvement in the transaction. When asked about the BH Fund for a Washington Post documentary in 2019, Leo said, “uh, the BH Fund is a charity. You can search for it. He continued: “I don’t waste my time with stories about money in politics, because I’m about ideas.”
Under current tax laws, nonprofits like BH Fund can spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities without disclosing their donors — as long as they are considered “social welfare” activities that aren’t primarily promoting a political candidate. Legislative attempts to close loopholes that allow black money in US elections have failed repeatedly over the past decade.
Leo’s clear role in the sale of Conway’s company underscores why “the influence of black money is doubly problematic once one is in office, because they [potentially] able to influence outcomes,” Ghosh said.
In its complaint to the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the Campaign for Accountability, a liberal watchdog group, cited a law that prohibits executive branch employees from “personally and substantially” participate in government affairs. affects its own financial interests.
“There is clear evidence based on the available facts that Ms. Conway personally and substantially participated in advising President Trump to appoint Supreme Court justices, and that her personal financial interests were prejudiced,” the complaint read in the Senate was submitted.
Conway responded to the complaint in a text message to POLITICO: “It’s what outside ‘fighting for law and justice’ groups do to get attention. Use journalists,” she said.
CRC spokesman Kennedy said the “liberal watchdog groups” filing the complaint should instead seek hearings from a company that ran the administration and operation of a liberal black money network that challenged Trump’s judicial nominations and spent millions around the election. 2020.
At the time of the purchase of Conway’s polling place, the CRC also raised millions of dollars from Leo’s network of nonprofit organizations to promote his preferred candidates to court, including at least $400,000 from the BH Fund. for “consultation”.
In 2020, Leo officially joined a newly renamed CRC Advisors as Chairman.
In an October 21 email, POLITICO first approached CRC advisers with a series of questions about privilege statements. Three days later, on Oct. 24, Jonathan Bunch, president of CRC Advisors, signed BH Fund’s deed of dissolution, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. A day after the December 20 story, an unsigned amendment was also tabled in committee ending the BH Fund’s lien for 2017.
Leo’s network of outside groups organized successful advocacy campaigns around the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett and blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. BH Fund operated alongside two other Leo-linked entities to promote Trump candidates.
A spate of House inquiries into the Biden administration and the president’s son, Hunter, is expected to take center stage in the new Congress.
Yet the Democrats still control the Senate and its oversight committees. And concerns about black money’s role in shaping the court’s new conservative majority are mounting after the new conservative majority overturned the 50-year precedent of a federal abortion law. .
The Conway transaction “is further evidence of the troubling role Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society played in directing Donald Trump’s judicial selection process,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Dec. 20 in the follow-up to the POLITICO report.
The complaint sent to Senator Peters, which emphasizes the importance of a prompt response, also put the case on law enforcement’s radar as it was escalated to the chief of the department’s public integrity section. of Justice, Corey Amundson.
“That is all the more urgent [the committee] are investigating this case because criminal charges against Ms. Conway may be time-barred by the general five-year statute of limitations that applies to most federal crimes,” the indictment said.
Either way, the issue should not be ignored, said Michelle Kuppersmith, executive director of the liberal watchdog group.
“We want the Senate to make it clear that you don’t operate like that,” she said in an interview as a government official. “Just as firefighters come in when they see smoke, it is the duty of the Senate to investigate — for all the reasons we outlined in our complaint — to urge government officials everywhere that potential misconduct will be investigated.”
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