Democrats have already begun mobilizing an extensive “dark money” campaign to fund their efforts of keeping control of Congress in 2022.
American Bridge 21st Century, one of the largest Super political action committees devoted to electing Democrats, committed to spending upwards of $100 million in the first midterm election of Biden’s presidency. American Bridge, whose largest donor in 2016 was billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, spent nearly $85 million on the 2020 elections and plans to focus on defending Biden’s agenda in congressional districts across the country.
“In 2022, Democratic fortunes are going to sink or swim on Biden’s success, so we want to engage on that front from the outset,” the current president of American Bridge, Bradley Beychok.
After American Bridge’s decision Fix Our Senate announced on Friday that they have recruited more than 62 progressive groups to push for the abolition of the Senate filibuster.
Fix Our Senate, a project of a “dark money” giant known as the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that isn’t required by the IRS to disclose its donors, is attempting to push the Democratic majority within the Senate to remove the filibuster. Fix Our Senate, who spent more than $10 million in opposing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and its allies are concerned that the filibuster, a Senate rule requiring 60 votes to end legislative debate, will be utilized by Republicans to halt Biden’s agenda and progressive priorities.
Along with Fix Our Senate and American Bridge in coordination to boost Democrats is a judicial coalition named Unrig the Courts. The coalition, as first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, wishes to fundamentally change the United States court system. Unrig seeks to expand the Supreme Court and impose a term limit on its current justices. It also plans to advocate for expanding lower-level federal courts and pushing stronger “ethics and transparency requirements.”
While the mobilization of these groups is not surprising, the extent to which it has been embraced by Democrats has struck some as ironic given the strong stance the party has taken against “dark money.” Especially since it’s political spending where the source of the money is kept from being public.
Since both Unrig and Fix Our Senate are incorporated as 501(c)(4) political nonprofits, they are under no legal obligation to disclose their donors. As neither group has willingly released its contributors, both are defined as “dark money.”
Both Fix our Senate and Unrig also have concerning ties to the Sixteen Thirty Fund. The ominous Washington, D.C. based nonprofit raised more than $141 million from undisclosed donors to help Democrats retake the House of Representatives in 2018. Sixteen Thirty is connected to Unrig through one of its eight coalition partners, Demand Justice, led by former Hillary Clinton aide Brian Fallon. On top of this, Fix Our Senate is established as a project of the fund according to its incorporation records.
American Bridge’s connection to Sixteen Thirty and multiple other “dark money” groups is alarming. As a Super PAC, American Bridge is not limited in how much money it can raise for political purposes, provided it discloses its donors regularly to the Federal Election Commission. However, the PAC can also accept unlimited contributions from political non-profits, who are not required to disclose their donors. This system is essentially acting as a shield for unlimited political spending by undisclosed shadow contributors.
Throughout 2020, a substantial portion of the money the PAC was spending to bolster Biden and Democrats came from political non-profits. The Sixteen Thirty Fund donated a total of $4.2 million to the PAC that it raised from undisclosed sources. Similarly, American Bridge also received more than $10 million from its own political non-profit, the American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, which also does not have to disclose its donors.
Many Democrats in office have accepted donations from these groups despite some of the party’s most high-profile elected officials criticizing “dark money.” Biden called for an “end [to] dark money groups” during his campaign, however, a report by Bloomberg News notes that the Biden campaign benefited from a record $145 million of “dark money.”
“That amount of dark money dwarfs the $28.4 million spent on behalf of former President Donald Trump,” the outlet reported. “And it tops the previous record of $113 million in anonymous donations backing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.”
These organizations, such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund, cycle millions between multiple other entities before arriving in the form of donations into political candidates. The American people should have a right to know what kind of money funds our politicians and President, especially when it comes from organizations intending to alter the fabric of our democracy.