Hate George Soros? Well, there's a conservative version of him in Illinois.
In case you think the Dems are the only ones trying to f-ck with your individual rights and decide what's best for you.
New Conservative Group Gets $1.6 Billion Donation From Chicago Businessman
Gift from billionaire Barre Seid went to conservative legal strategist Leonard Leo’s new politically active nonprofit
Leonard Leo, pictured in 2016, helped groom conservative scholars, officials and judges at the Federalist Society before forming a nonprofit to fund conservative groups.
By Julie Bykowicz, WSJ
Aug. 23, 2022 9:17 am ET
WASHINGTON—A nonprofit group led by a legal strategist who spent decades helping push conservatives onto the U.S. Supreme Court received about $1.6 billion from a private donor in what fundraising advisers believe is the largest single contribution to any politically active group in U.S. history.
The Marble Freedom Trust listed the donation on a recent tax filing reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The documents don’t identify the donor, but people familiar with the transactions say the gift came from Chicago billionaire Barre Seid. Between May 2020 and April 2021, the new trust distributed more than $228 million to other funds that in turn awarded grants to conservative organizations and political groups.
The trust says in its tax filing that its purpose is to “maintain and expand human freedom” consistent with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. People familiar with the nonprofit’s goals say it will primarily finance efforts to make the judiciary more conservative, back voter integrity projects favored by Republicans and fight Democrat-led drives to protect access to abortion. The size of the donation indicates the trust will have money to operate for years to come.
The trust’s leader, Leonard Leo, 57 years old, spent nearly his entire career at the Federalist Society, a network of lawyers established during the administration of former President Ronald Reagan to groom conservative scholars, officials and judges. He resigned as president of the society in January 2020 to begin building the Marble Freedom Trust and a companion consulting firm called CRC Advisors.
In a statement, Mr. Leo compared his effort to left-leaning donor funds that have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires George Soros and Hansjörg Wyss, among others.
In the 2020 election, Democratic nonprofits spent more than twice as much as their Republican counterparts and outspent them in 2018, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The largest liberal nonprofit, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, invested about $400 million in 2020, much of it on voter registration and Democratic turnout efforts, its tax filing shows.
“We are confident that over time our model will deliver more and more wins for our constitution and the values it stands for,” Mr. Leo said in the statement.
The creation of the Marble Freedom Trust and how it obtained its $1.6 billion largess were first reported by the New York Times.
Marble Freedom Trust’s tax filing says it received as a gift, and then sold, 100% of the stock in a privately held company. The documents don’t name the company, but people familiar with the transactions said it was Chicago-based power strip and electrical device manufacturer Tripp Lite, which was wholly owned by Mr. Seid. A report filed last year in Illinois shows Mr. Seid’s name crossed out as an officer of Tripp Lite and Mr. Leo added as an officer.
Representatives for Mr. Seid didn’t respond to requests for comment. While not a frequent political donor, Mr. Seid’s family foundation has contributed to the Heartland Institute, a think tank that disputes the idea of man-made climate change, and the Chamber Opera Chicago, among others, records show.
After Mr. Seid donated his stock in Tripp Lite to Marble Freedom Trust, Eaton Corp., a power management company based in Dublin, said in January 2021 that it would purchase Tripp Lite for $1.65 billion, records show.
Mr. Seid’s donation enabled him to avoid the capital-gains taxes normally due when company stock that increased in value is sold. However, because the donation was to a social welfare group—commonly called a 501(c)(4) after the section of the tax code it falls under—rather than a charity, Mr. Seid couldn't use it as a tax deduction against other income.
Social welfare groups such as Marble Freedom Trust and the Sixteen Thirty Fund are limited in what they can spend directly on politics. Still, nonprofits can advocate on issues that motivate voters, such as by funding ads urging people to thank a lawmaker for work on legislation.
Campaign finance reform advocates have called such spending “dark money” because it is difficult to trace through public records even as it shows up in elections.
Tax and campaign finance filings covering parts of 2020 and 2021 lay out one example of how nonprofit money makes its way into electoral politics.
One early recipient of $16.5 million in Marble Freedom Trust money was the Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network. The Concord Fund’s largest donation between July 2020 and June 2021 was $9 million to One Nation, a nonprofit political advocacy group linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
During the 2020 campaign, One Nation gave more than $85 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC also aligned with Mr. McConnell that spends heavily on television and digital ads to elect Senate Republicans. Representatives for the Concord Fund, One Nation and the Senate Leadership Fund didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Write to Julie Bykowicz at email@example.com