Thanks to constant hammering by the media, most Americans are aware of the conservative influence from the likes of NRA, Judicial Watch and the National Organization of Marriage. But, as Kimberley A. Strassel point out in the WSJ, these groups barely rank by comparison to the assets and revenue of Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, or the Nature Conservancy.
These aren’t only big political players; they’re the biggest political players. In 2018 the nonprofit watchdog Capital Research Center analyzed grants handed out in the 2014 election year by six big foundations on the right (including the Bradley and Charles Koch foundations) versus six on the left (including the Open Society and Tides foundations). Liberal public-policy charities, organized under chapter 501(c)(3) of the tax code, bagged $7.4 billion of this foundation money in 2014. For conservative charities, the figure was a mere $2.2 billion. That $7.4 billion also dwarfed total 2013-14 campaign receipts to federal, state and local campaigns ($4.1 billion) and spending that cycle by independent groups ($830 million).
Liberal Scheme to Undermine Trump, the GOP, Our Republic
In his new book “Power Grab” (out this week), Jason Chaffetz, former rep from Utah and House Oversight Committee chairman, details how powerful the liberal nonprofit sector has grown. “Mr. Chaffetz’s contribution is to refocus attention on the way liberal charities channel their huge funds into political work that benefits the Democratic Party,” Ms. Strassel reports.
We’ve long known that some of them engage in nominally nonpartisan voter registration, conveniently only in places likely to yield Democratic votes. The Chaffetz book adds new data highlighting contracts between liberal charities and overt political organizations.
The Influence of Dark Money
Just one of these recent “pop-up” groups is Demand Justice, a “project” of Arabella’s Sixteen Thirty Fund. The outfit got rolling in early 2018, with the express purpose of combating Republican judicial nominees, and was a major player in the drive-by hit on Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Almost nothing is known about Demand Justice beyond that it is run by former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. Where are all those media sleuths when you need them to sniff out “dark money”?
The history of campaign-finance laws is largely a history of groups getting around them. As the power of liberal charities grows, so too will the calls for new rules or investigations. Conservatives would be wiser to educate themselves about this rapidly changing money environment, and get in the game. Elections are increasingly about identifying voters, engaging them, and getting them to the polls. One person at a time.
Conservatives can also start fighting more aggressively the nonsense media and Democratic claims that wealthy networks of conservative or corporate donors run the country. The reality is completely opposite, and the money Goliath is the left.
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