'Nonpartisan watchdogs' targeting Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito tied to progressive dark-money groups

The Washington Examiner reports that so-called “nonpartisan” Supreme Court “watchdogs” themselves required some watching, as many of them received financing from far-left, Democrat-allied dark money groups. 

A number of these groups have spent time targeting conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito over alleged trips and gifts they accepted while ignoring liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor raking in millions from a “book deal,” while failing to recuse herself from cases involving her publisher.

Just the News reported a dark money consulting firm, Arabella Advisors, gave millions of dollars to dark money groups involved in a hit job on the conservative justices. 

Former Bill Clinton appointee Eric Kessler founded the company in 2005, and its subsidiaries include the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Hopewell Fund, the New Venture Fund, the Windward Fund, and the North Fund. 

Among companies involved in criticizing Alito and Thomas is Common Cause, which is pushing for a code of conduct to be passed in the high court. That company received nearly half a million dollars from three of the Arabella Advisors subsidiaries, according to tax forms, as reported in The Washington Examiner. All told, Arabella spent over $1 billion last year pushing left-wing causes. 

Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, who it should be noted is a Democrat, is investigating Arabella and its subsidiaries, including the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund, with his offices issuing subpoenas to the network in September, seeking information on alleged financial mismanagement. Conveniently, none of the funds are required to file their own tax forms with the IRS. 

“Arabella Advisors and the dark money groups it advises specialize in cultivating pop-up front groups to make their extreme agenda sound locally-run or nonpartisan,” said Carrie Severino, president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, to the Examiner. “It’s no surprise they‘re behind the campaign to discredit originalist justices.” 

Senate Democrats threatened to issue subpoenas to Federalist Society Co-Chairman Leonard Leo, a conservative activist affiliated with the Concord Fund, and GOP businessman Harlan Leo over their alleged ties to Alito and Thomas. However, Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee changed course. They decided not to vote on the matter last week after Republicans, led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), floated the idea of issuing a subpoena against Arabella. 

Schwalb, however, also recently opened an investigation into tax-exempt organizations linked to Leo after Campaign for Accountability (CFA), a so-called “nonpartisan watchdog” led by left-wing activists, alleged that several nonprofit groups paid excessive compensation to him. Those groups included the Concord Fund, Rule of Law Trust, Wellspring Committee, 85 Fund, Federalist Society, Freedom and Opportunity Fund, and Marble Freedom Trust. 

The financial backing of the dark money groups targeting the conservative justices is a tangled web, but as expected, some lead back to the deep pockets of George Soros. For example, Campaign for Accountability realized $450,000 in 2022 from the New Venture Fund, tax forms showed. That is in addition to over $2.3 million New Venture Fund steered to Campaign for Accountability, which has also raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. 

This past September, CFA, along with over 40 “Supreme Court watchdog and accountability organizations,” joined in sending a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, demanding Thomas and Alito recuse themselves from cases tied to conservative hedge fund manager Paul Singer and the right-libertarian Koch Network. 

Moreover, CFA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith is on the board of Fix the Court, an alleged “transparency” Supreme Court watchdog that mistakenly leaked its donors, including the New Venture Fund, to the Washington Examiner in May. Fix the Court admitted failing to disclose its lobbying activities after tax attorneys said in July that they had likely violated federal law. 

The Examiner said the letter to Roberts was spearheaded by Accountable.US, another so-called “nonpartisan” watchdog staffed by left-wing operatives, including its founder and senior adviser Kyle Herrig. He runs the Congressional Integrity Project, which seeks to push back on House Republican investigations. According to a December Washington Examiner report, that group is nearly entirely funded by the Sixteen Thirty Fund. 

Congressional Integrity Project didn’t respond to the Examiner’s requests for its 2022 tax forms. Accountable.US didn’t return a request for comment. 

Accountable.US took in over $2 million in 2022 from the New Venture Fund for “civil rights, social action, and advocacy,” according to financial disclosures. However, in the three years before that, Accountable.US took in over $8 million from the New Venture Fund. 

November 1, Accountable.US and other left-wing activist groups called for “Clarence Thomas’s immediate resignation in the face of a growing Supreme Court corruption crisis,” according to a letter that used “reporting” from left-wing bomb throwing ProPublica alleging Thomas didn’t report traveling with Crow. 

Republicans dismissed allegations of impropriety against Thomas, saying no laws at that time required disclosure of his travel. It should be noted that again, major donors to ProPublica include watchdogs that have called on Thomas to resign or be investigated, including the Sandler Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, according to the Daily Caller. 

“These groups lie through their teeth, claiming they are nonpartisan, good government watchdogs,’ said Mark Paoletta, general counsel for the Office of Management and Budget under former President Donald Trump. 

“In fact, they are partisan propagandists doing the bidding of their left-wing billionaire donors, who have given these front groups the assignment of attacking the constitutionalist justices at all costs by manufacturing phony ethics scandals to undermine trust in the Supreme Court,” Paoletta, a close friend of Thomas and his wife Ginny, told the Washington Examiner. 

Common Cause, which again disguises itself as a “nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American Democracy,” has targeted Thomas and Alito for their alleged ties to conservative activists. In April, in a clear violation of separation of powers, they demanded Thomas be ordered to testify to be “a witness in hearings to examine Supreme Court ethics in the wake of the latest scandal to engulf the nation’s highest court,” two letters sent to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees said. 

According to Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank, Common Cause is also tied to Soros’ Open Society Foundations and is a longtime ally of progressives. Last year, Common Cause took in $22,000 from New Venture Fund, $243,000 from Sixteen Thirty Fund, and $225,250 from North Fund, tax forms showed. 

Meanwhile, Common Cause’s “charity” arm, Common Cause Education Fund, raked in $605,500 in 2022 from New Venture Fund and $175,000 from Hopewell Fund, tax forms showed. 

The Washington Examiner reached out to Common Cause for comment and was told, “We do not comment on specific donations, but we make our donor list available online in accordance with our donor transparency policy,” David Vance, a Common Cause spokesman, told the Washington Examiner. “We leave it up to donors whether or not to announce which of our programs their funds support.” 

Another “nonpartisan” watchdog, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), which “champions good government reforms,” took in $40,000 from the New Venture Fund in 2022 and also took in cash in the years prior, according to tax forms. In April, POGO’s Walter Shaub Jr. and Sarah Tuberville sent a letter “to urge the Department of Justice to investigate the recently reported decadeslong failure of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to disclose his receipts of gifts potentially worth millions of dollars.” 

Again, Open Society Foundations, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Ford Foundation have also steered funds over the years to POGO, according to documents. 

POGO President Danielle Brian told the Washington Examiner the group won’t comment on donors beyond what is listed on their annual reports. 

“POGO accepts gifts from individuals and institutions that are committed to the principles of democracy, racial justice, inclusion, and equity,” she told the Washington Examiner. “We reserve the right to decline gifts and donations from individuals and institutions that advocate viewpoints or engage in activities that contradict these values. POGO does not knowingly accept contributions from for-profit corporations, labor unions, any government, or anyone who stands to benefit financially from our work in order to preserve our independence.” 

Meanwhile, these “watchdog” groups have completely ignored Sotomayor, who in 2007 (before her appointment to the Supreme Court) had total investments between $50,001 and $115,000, according to financial disclosures, Fox News reported. Her investments held steady in 2008 and 2009, when Obama nominated her to the high court. 

Since then, Sotomayor’s investment profile has skyrocketed. For example, in 2021, her total investments came in at somewhere between $1.5 to $6.4 million, financial disclosure forms showed. Those investment totals held steady in 2022, Fox News said. 

Currently, members of the Supreme Court earn $285,400, except Chief Justice John Roberts, who makes just shy of $300,000. 

Part of that increase in wealth comes from books she’s written. In July, the Associated Press reported Sotomayor’s staff “prodded” public institutions hosting her to buy her memoir or children’s books, which have earned her at least $3.7 million since joining the Court, and she continues to earn royalties annually. 

For all these “watchdogs” concern themselves with “conflicts of interest” or “improprieties” among conservative Supreme Court Justices, they have expressed no such interest in the same where it involves Sotomayor. 

The AP reported her publisher, Penguin Random House, played a role in organizing her talks while pushing the public institutions to commit to buying set numbers of books or requesting attendees purchase books to obtain tickets. 

Meanwhile, despite her financial ties to the company, Sotomayor didn’t recuse herself from “multiple cases” before the Supreme Court involving Random House. 

No comment has been made from all these Supreme Court “nonpartisan" watchdog groups.

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