A major donor to a secretive club of wealthy Democratic financiers hosted President Barack Obama at her home last week for a fundraiser benefitting one of that club’s most politically active organizations.
The event came as the president faced withering criticism for raising money as international crises proliferate, and just days ahead of a hearing of Democrat-backed legislation to force "dark money" political donors to disclose more information about their finances.
House Majority PAC is one of the most nakedly political recipients of cash from the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy network of liberal millionaires and billionaires that doles out tens of millions of dollars to top left-wing groups each year.
The Super PAC has spent millions in efforts to win House seats for Democrats in an election cycle that experts predict will not be friendly to the party’s efforts to retake the lower chamber.
The president was likely a major draw for high-dollar donors when he headlined a House Majority PAC fundraiser on Thursday at the home of Amy Goldman Fowler, a major Democracy Alliance donor who has given millions to Democratic and liberal groups over the past decade.
Fowler held the event at her and her husband’s Upper East Side Manhattan home.
Fowler has already given House Majority PAC $100,000 this year, according to Federal Election Commission records, on top of the $500,000 she gave the group ahead of the 2012 elections.
House Majority PAC is one of scores of groups to which the Democracy Alliance steers its donors’ money.
The Alliance serves as a "pass-through," connecting its members to major liberal and Democratic groups. Because it does not actually handle the contributions, it never discloses its role in coordinating policy and political efforts among those groups.
The group refuses to make information about its activities public, meaning it is difficult to know whether Fowler’s contributions counted towards her required $200,000 annual contributions to the DA network, or whether the Alliance played a role in facilitating those contributions.
However, numerous other DA donors have written huge checks to House Majority PAC, providing nearly $1.5 million in financing during the 2014 election cycle, as of last month.
Alliance donors to the group since last year include financier Donald Sussman, self-described "adventure capitalist" Chris Findlater, real estate developer Wayne Jordan, New School professor and Berkshire Hathaway heir Philip Munger, investor Sandor Straus, attorney Lisa Blue Baron, and the firm of personal injury lawyer Steve Mostyn.
Jon Stryker, the brother of Democracy Alliance cofounder Pat Stryker, has given House Majority PAC another $1.2 million since last year.
The secretive nature of the Democracy Alliance’s involvement in financing its portfolio of activist groups frees it from the disclosure requirements of many political organizations.
It also shields the DA from the requirements of legislation currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate.
The legislation, a revamped version of the 2010 DISCLOSE Act, would apply disclosure requirements for groups explicitly supporting or opposing a political candidate to 501(c)(4) issue advocacy groups and other nonprofits that engage in what the bill’s authors deem to be de facto political advocacy.
Corporations and labor unions that donate more than $10,000 to such groups would be required to disclose those contributions.
DA’s novel approach to fundraising, in which the organization’s fingerprints escape official paper trails, would shield its work from the measure’s disclosure requirements.
The legislation also exempts 501(c)(3) groups from its disclosure requirements, meaning a number of the left-wing campaign finance reform advocates testifying in support of the measure at a Wednesday hearing will not be bound by its requirements, despite routinely shielding their donors from public scrutiny.