By Evan Vorpahl
Newly obtained documents show that the billion-dollar trust fund given to Leonard Leo — the right-wing attorney and longtime leader the Federalist Society who orchestrated Donald Trump’s Supreme Court picks — has dumped at least $411 million into fueling right-wing infrastructure in the U.S. since mid-2020.
The latest IRS filing of the new nonprofit, Marble Freedom Trust — obtained by Accountable.US, a progressive watchdog group — shows that Leo has spent at least $182 million during the Biden administration to fund right-wing groups from May 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022. This surge has come as Leo has become more publicly outspoken in attacking reproductive rights as well as efforts to protect our environment and crucial measures that advance Americans’ equality.
Leo chose to have most of that, more than $153 million, wash through the Schwab Charitable Fund, a “donor-advised fund” that serves as a passthrough to help obscure the money trail between a funder and its beneficiaries. In recent years, since Leo secured control of $1.6 billion in the largest single gift of its kind from Chicago billionaire Barre Seid, Leo’s network of groups has relied heavily on donor-advised funds to move cash between entities in ways that can help keep the original donor secret from the public.
Marble’s filing included only one other grantee: the Concord Fund (also known as the Judicial Crisis Network), to which it gave a $29 million gift. The Concord Fund then paid $12 million in fees to CRC Advisors, a for-profit PR firm that Leo has helped helm since 2020.
This latest filing also adds to the growing public knowledge of how Leo’s for-profit business works in tandem with nonprofit groups he funds to change the rules in our democracy, and also provides a glimpse of how lucrative this effort is.
Read the full story on Truthout here.