Sen. Whitehouse Speaks Out Against 'Dark Money'—At An Event Funded By Dark Money

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) / Getty Images
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) / Getty Images
May 8, 2019

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) spoke Wednesday on the dangers of 'dark money' groups funding Congress, at an event funded by the Center For American Progress and the American Constitution Society—both of which have received funding from dark money organizations.

During his talk, titled, "The Supreme Corp: How Corporate and Right-Wing Interests Captured The U.S. Supreme Court," Whitehouse accused right-wing institutions of securing favorable court decisions by propping up potential appointees to District Courts and the Supreme Court with dark money.

"Big Republican donor interests are at work all around the court, and much of their work is hidden from the public. We must shed light here," he said. "The big influencers are hiding behind dark money channels and a lot of transparency is needed."

CAP recently published a review by Whitehouse outlining 73 Supreme Court decisions in which the Rhode Island senator makes the case that the court unfairly decided in favor of Republican interests.

CAP was founded in 2003 by Hillary Clinton ally John Podesta as a left-wing policy think-tank, and is funded in part by the New Venture Fund, a dark money group founded by former President Bill Clinton appointee Eric Kessler. The New Venture Fund gave CAP between $100,000 and $499,999 in 2018, according to CAP's website.

Along with ACS, CAP has also been funded by Democracy Alliance, the largest Democratic dark money group. Since billionaire George Soros founded it in 2005, Democracy Alliance has invested $1.83 billion in various progressive causes. Its influence covers more than 150 left-wing organizations, including Media Matters for America, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. It has also helped fund the growing anti-Trump movement, aiding smaller groups such as the Center for Popular Democracy, Center for Community Change, and Swing Left.

Whitehouse has also been connected personally to Democracy Alliance in the past, on the occasion of the publication of his 2017 book, Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy. Whitehouse toured the book with Gara LaMarche, the president of Democracy Alliance. La Marche is also the chair of the New Press, which published Whitehouse's book.

"I think if Thomas Jefferson and James Madison came back here now and looked around they'd be stunned at a lot of different aspects of our lives," Whitehouse told LaMarche during his book tour, according to a report in the Westerly Sun. "But I think one thing that would really astound them would be the fact that corporations have such a big role in our democracy."