Thom Tillis Provides a “Balanced Understanding” of Dark-Money Influence on SCOTUS Nominations

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    Senator Thom Tillis (R.NC) utilized a chart, which he claimed was in the “Whitehouse format,” [referencing Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D.RI)], to provide a “balanced understanding” of dark-money groups–following Whitehouse’s 10-minute presentation about right-wing black-money groups, accompanied by charts, during the U.S. Senate SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) nomination hearing on Tuesday.

    “I've decided to use the Whitehouse format for dark money so that we have a balanced understanding of the fact that our proceedings here, the aspirations for the court…there is an ecosystem out there on both sides,” Tillis declared.

    Dark money is a term used to describe political financing that is not traceable to donors.

    Dark-money organizations mainly comprise 501(c) organizations that, according to campaign-finance watchdog Open Secrets, do not have to reveal their donors' names or other sources of funds. Certain 501(c) organizations can, therefore, contribute to political parties or causes without their donations being traceable.

    Tillis's chart showed a variety of groups that can all be linked to Arabella Advisors, a heavily funded Democrat-led consulting company that oversees a range of dark-money-related groups pursuing various left-wing agendas.

    One of the most important aspects of Arabella is that it's registered with the designation of LLC (a limited liability company), among the most common corporate forms a for-profit business can use. It is also privately owned. Since it is a private LLC, it is completely outside the disclosure laws that govern nonprofits and political-advocacy organizations. Billionaires can pour unlimited amounts of money into Arabella as investment money, and Arabella is then able to pour huge amounts into various funds, which then pass the money on to various left-wing organizations. But the public will never be able to determine who is funding Arabella's massive war chest.

    Arabella was able to earn an estimated $45.6 million in 2020 by managing four organizations, including the Sixteen Thirty Fund (1630 Fund), which invested $260 million in boosting Democrat candidates and political causes in the 2020 presidential election, according to a report by Open Secrets.

    Demand Justice, a project of the dark-money nonprofit the Sixteen Thirty Fund, has taken on Supreme Court-related causes, including expanding the court's bench, attempting to prevent Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, and, according to an Axios report, pressuring the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer to step down so that he could be replaced by a woman of color. The report also stated that Demand Justice sought separate nonprofit status from the Sixteen Thirty Fund in 2021.

    Tillis provided a summary of his conclusions from Demand Justice's website during the hearing on Wednesday. Here is a paraphrase of his remarks: 

    They have a particular strategy. First step: Four seats on the Supreme Court. It is necessary to increase the number of seats on the Supreme Court to restore balance, according to their perspective; it’s the majority view and their philosophy of justice. They're pleased to hear that President Biden has pledged to create an advisory commission. They're excited, and they're determined to ensure that they influence the external members of the commission by approving their four-seat plan. They're looking to get more than 25,000 people. According to their website, as is their method of action, which is to influence the commission's recommendations, and, after that, they would like to eliminate the filibuster 51 votes needed to make important decisions [in the Senate]. To enlarge the Court–that's their stated goal. They're proud of it.

    Tillis referred to Whitehouse's remarks on Tuesday, during which the senator claimed that Democrat-aligned dark-money groups' influence on Supreme Court justices paled in comparison to that of Republican-aligned dark-money groups. Whitehouse declared that “there is a difference, I believe, between a dark money interest rooting for someone and right-wing dark money interests having a role in actually picking the last three Supreme Court justices.”

    Tillis said that the idea was “intellectually dishonest” based on his studies of Demand Justice's campaign.

    “I think it's intellectually dishonest to say that the [Biden] administration, that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, are not influenced by this organization,” Tillis stated. “We've tracked some of the fundraising and support of elections. They're engaged, and they're influenced by it.”

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