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Conservative Dark Money Group Gets $1.6 Billion Donation In Huge Win For The Right

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A Republican donor gave $1.6 billion to a recent conservative nonprofit last yr, the biggest known donation to a political advocacy group within the nation’s history, The Recent York Times reported Monday.

The group, Marble Freedom Trust, is run by Leonard Leo, the co-chair of the conservative Federalist Society, an influential force in Washington that has worked to rework the nation’s judiciary. Leo has been instrumental within the fight to overturn Americans’ access to abortion and limit voting rights across the nation. ProPublica notes Leo has directly helped select judges to be nominated to the Supreme Court and arranged massive media campaigns to see them confirmed.

The sheer size of the donation will likely aid the nation’s conservative wing for years, if not a long time, and can function a selected boon to the GOP because the country heads into November’s midterm elections.

The cash got here via Barre Seid, a 90-year-old electronics manufacturing tycoon from Chicago, who transferred the large sum via a series of legal tax loopholes that appear to have largely avoided any liabilities, the Times reported. Seid donated 100% of his shares in his company, Tripp Lite, to the nonprofit group before the corporate was then sold for $1.65 billion to an Irish conglomerate.

The nonprofit group received the proceeds from the sale, which was accomplished in March 2021, some $1.6 billion in total. ProPublica added the structure of the donation likely avoided as much as $400 million in taxes.

Leonard Leo told the Times it was “high time for the conservative movement to be among the many ranks of George Soros.”

Marble Freedom Trust, which was founded in 2020, is what’s known in political circles as a dark money group that faces no requirements to publicly disclose its donors. Such organizations are capable of spend as much as they like on third-party electoral efforts and political issues.

Leo told the Times in a press release it was “high time for the conservative movement to be among the many ranks of George Soros, Hansjörg Wyss, Arabella Advisors and other left-wing philanthropists.” He said the donation would help the brand new group go “toe-to-toe within the fight to defend our structure and its ideals.”

Tax filings show Leo is the trustee and chairman of the trust and has “primary authority” over how they money is spent, in keeping with tax filings obtained by the Times. His power over the war chest will solidify his role as a conservative power broker and supercharge his relationships with major donors throughout Washington.

The $1.6 billion figure will immediately shift the balance of power in American political spending. Dark money groups have long aided Democrats, and the Times notes the highest 15 most energetic nonprofit groups benefiting the party spent greater than $1.5 billion within the 2020 race (in comparison with $900 million for GOP-linked groups in that period).

Democrats have worked to finish such spending after the Supreme Court legalized the practice in its Residents United decision, but have largely did not achieve this up to now.

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