The Academy Award for hypocritical chutzpah during the Supreme Court nomination hearings goes to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, for his full conspiracy-theory rant about the supposed evils of the “dark money” supporting Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation.
So-called dark money is political spending by nonprofit organizations that don’t disclose their donors’ names. To be clear, dark money exists, and it does have influence. The truth, though, is that dark money is more prevalent on the political Left as on the Right, and Whitehouse’s allies in leftist dark-money groups are working just as hard at defeating Barrett’s nomination as conservative groups are at confirming her. More pointedly, Whitehouse is a particularly avid purveyor of the same dark arts as those he loudly denounced during Tuesday’s hearing.
First, let’s consider Whitehouse’s stunning hypocrisy in shouting against “forces outside of this room who are pulling strings and pushing sticks and causing the public — puppet theater to react.” As the Wall Street Journal noted in more than a half-dozen editorials, Whitehouse has long been a star in the dark-money puppet theater. Sometimes, he plays Geppetto, sometimes Pinocchio, but he’s a major player either way. The Journal has noted a whole series of friend-of-the-court briefs filed in Whitehouse’s name but which were funded, or for which legal work was done, by either top campaign donors or suspected top donors to Whitehouse. The same paper also raised questions, never fully answered, about a particular example of when “the senator intervened for a [specific] company after campaign cash flowed.”
Among the dark money outfits about which the Journal wanted Whitehouse to disclose his ties were ones called Arabella Advisors, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, and Demand Justice. A watchdog group called Influence Watch keeps close tabs on those left-wing outfits. It reports that Arabella is an umbrella group that doesn’t disclose its donors, nor do the subsidiary groups, and they also keep secret their “salaries, vendors, budgets, expense breakdown, fundraising, or grants to other nonprofits.” In 2018, it spent $600 million on political causes. The Sixteen Thirty Fund, in turn, was founded with seed money from the corrupt, now-defunct, left-wing organization ACORN.
Specifically on court-related issues, Demand Justice was founded by a former press secretary for Hillary Clinton after he spoke to a donor group founded by George Soros, and the group accepted $2.5 million from the Open Society Policy Center, a Soros-founded lobbying group. It reportedly is spending $10 million to help Whitehouse and his Democratic colleagues defeat Barrett.
As for Soros, his groups also have funded court-related organizations such as the Alliance for Justice and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, both of which are spending assiduously to keep Barrett off the high court. Again, Whitehouse doesn’t seem to mind dark money or Soros-donated funds when they support his leftist causes. So, who is he to whine about dark money that supports conservatives?
Indeed, in 2018, the most recent year for which information is available, liberal dark money groups donated 54% of all such political sums while conservative ones spent just 31%. (The rest were nonpartisan.) Relatedly, as Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, noted immediately after Whitehouse’s rant, big-money super PACs, which are not technically dark money but which also aggregate huge sums for political influence, also show “massive differentials” between liberal and conservative spending. Of the top 20 super PACs, he said, 14 give mostly to Democrats, only three mostly to Republicans, and the former outspent the latter $422 million to $189 million.
If Whitehouse wants to shut down dark money or super PACs, let him start with those far more powerful ones who are on his side.
Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Sheldon Whitehouse, Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, Law, Super PACs, Ted Cruz, Campaign Finance, Congress, George Soros
Original Author: Quin Hillyer
Original Location: Sen. Whitehouse, against Judge Barrett, shows huge hypocrisy about ‘dark money’