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