Dark Money Watchdog ProPublica Rakes in Millions From Undisclosed Donors

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas / Getty Images
June 9, 2023

The nonprofit ProPublica, which has for years published reports critical of political groups bankrolled by undisclosed donors, itself accepts millions of dollars from anonymous donors.

The organization, a self-described "independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force," is bankrolled by charitable contributions. And while the group is transparent about the source of some of that money, it won't say where millions of dollars of its funding comes from, according to the New York Post.

In the years 2020 and 2021, ProPublica accepted $6.3 million from anonymous donors, and a quarter of the group's revenues in 2022 came from two unnamed donors.

The revelation comes after ProPublica went after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for his failure to disclose gifts from the billionaire conservative donor Harlan Crow. The group called into question his ethics and lack of transparency.

ProPublica is refusing to name its donors, the Post reported:

In response to a query from The Post about the identity of the two donors who contributed a quarter of the site’s revenue last year, a ProPublica spokeswoman emailed a statement:

"The funding you cite was reported publicly on our 2022 audited financial statement. Every year, on our IRS Form 990, we list the donors who contributed $5,000 or more, which provides readers with more transparency about the sources of our funding than the IRS requires of nonprofits. Our 2022 Form 990 will be published this fall, as is our standard practice."

When asked to provide some transparency about multiple donations that are listed anonymously on their most recent 990 disclosure, ProPublica declined to comment.

According to ProPublica’s 2020 IRS filings, the number of anonymous donations totaled more than $4.9 million. In 2021 it was $1.399 million, totaling $6.3 million over two years.