Liberal Group Funded by Swiss Billionaire Spends Big to Attack 'Billionaires Buying Our Elections'

Hansjörg Wyss / Getty Images
June 10, 2021

A liberal redistricting group funded largely through secretive donations by a Swiss billionaire is hitting the airwaves with a well-funded ad campaign attacking the "billionaires buying our elections."

The new ad from the National Redistricting Action Fund, a partisan lobbying group helmed by former attorney general Eric Holder, goes after the power billionaires wield through anonymous "dark money" contributions. Unmentioned is the at least $3 million funneled anonymously to the National Redistricting Action Fund in recent years by Hansjörg Wyss, a foreign billionaire who has quietly emerged as a liberal megadonor in the United States.

Wyss's dark money contributions made up 40 percent of the gerrymandering group's total funding in 2018, and a quarter of its funding the following year, making Wyss one of the organization's largest donors. Wyss has supplied dark money networks in the United States with hundreds of millions of dollars, making him exactly the type of influencer Holder's group decries in the ad.

"For the corporate special interests and billionaires buying our elections, dark money is power," the ad states, advocating for the passage of the For the People Act, which aims to ban dark money by changing disclosure requirements on nonprofit organizations such as the 501(c)4 National Redistricting Action Fund itself.

Holder, who runs both the National Redistricting Action Fund and the affiliated National Democratic Redistricting Committee, has decried foreign interference in America's elections. In 2018, Holder compared foreign interference in the 2016 election to Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed thousands and brought the United States into World War II. The Sixteen Thirty Fund, which is also bankrolled by Wyss, has spent almost $2 million on lobbying efforts backing the For the People Act.

The National Redistricting Action Fund group did not respond to a request for comment on taking money from a foreign billionaire.

The new ad is backed by seven figures and will run until June 21, according to the Hill. The ad's call to action is to support the Democrats' For the People Act to "finally ban dark money."

The push from the redistricting group comes days after Illinois's Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, reversed his support for nonpartisan redistricting and got behind a Democratic gerrymandering plan that's been decried by critics. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board expressed shock that Democrats were "even rigging state Supreme Court districts." Holder's group has yet to comment on the Illinois redistricting plan.

The dark money group's ad is unlikely to have the effect it desires when it comes to the For the People Act. Democratic senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) announced this week that he would not back down to the massive liberal pressure campaign, killing Democratic chances to pass the radical overhaul of America's campaign finance system.

Published under: Dark Money