Whitehouse Cites Group Funded by Dark Money to Attack Dark Money

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) / AP
October 13, 2020

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) on Tuesday savaged conservative dark-money groups, citing the work of a left-wing group funded by dark money in his attacks.

In an exchange with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that Whitehouse used to deliver a soliloquy attacking "dark money"—groups that do not disclose their donors—Whitehouse cited research from the Center for Media and Democracy, a group funded by anonymous left-wing donors.

The Center for Media and Democracy received $520,000 in 2011 from the Schwab Charitable Fund, which conceals the sources of its funding. That contribution alone made up 60 percent of the group's 2011 revenue. Though the group says it lists "foundations that have provided at least one grant of $5,000 or more," it does not disclose the contribution from the Schwab Charitable Fund.

It is not the first time that White House has attacked right-wing groups bankrolled by anonymous donors while partnering with left-wing groups that do the same. Just three months ago, the Rhode Island senator spoke at an event hosted by the American Constitution Society, a dark-money group that does not disclose its donors. His appearance at the event came weeks after the Democrat introduced a bill requiring dark money judicial groups to disclose their donors with the Federal Election Commission.

Whitehouse has also been a top ally of Demand Justice, a left-wing dark money judicial group founded by former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon in 2018. The group is part of an intricate dark money network spearheaded by Arabella Advisors, a consulting firm that serves as a "pass through" outfit for wealthy Democratic donors wishing to make anonymous contributions. Liberal billionaire George Soros reported sending Demand Justice more than $2.5 million after Fallon appeared at a 2018 conference held by the Democracy Alliance, a wealthy liberal donor network that funnels millions to progressive activist groups.

Fallon called Whitehouse a "hero for everyone who cares about saving our courts from Trump and McConnell" in a June interview with the Hill.

"Sheldon Whitehouse understands that Democrats can't play by an old rulebook that Republicans long ago tore up," Fallon said.