Dark Money Boosted Justice Democrats’ Super PAC In Q2

Robbie Jagger

Progressive Democrat organization Justice Democrats received $260,000 in donations from dark money funded groups and Super PACs in Q2, FEC filings show¹.

The group, who has notably backed members of “The Squad" such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar — and most recently candidates like Marie Newman and Jamaal Bowman, recently changed their PAC to a “Carey Committee” — which essentially makes them a PAC/SuperPAC hybrid with separate accounts. In the past, Justice Democrats have been very critical of candidates receiving billionaire, dark money, or SuperPAC support. Now, it seems they’ve decided to change their views, and accept all three themselves.

According to the group’s latest FEC filing, which covers April through June, three dark money funded groups and PACs donated $260,000 to Justice Democrats. The first was the Independent Expenditure committee belonging to the Working Families Party, who donated $110,000. WFP has a long, documented history of taking billionaire cash from the likes of George Soros, Cari Tuna, and Kate Capshaw — but this cycle, their in house Super PAC, abbreviated as WFP IE, has also taken quite a bit of dark money². This election cycle, they’ve accepted $225,000 from Way To Win (we’ll come back to them) and $50,000 from Democracy Alliance billionaire slush fund Sixteen Thirty Fund — a dark money venture ran and funded by some of the wealthiest individuals and nonprofits in the country. WFP IE’s largest dark money transactions, however, all came during the most recent quarter, where the group took $1,000,000 from George Soros' personal Super PAC, called Democracy PAC. Democracy PAC has taken in $51,000,000 this cycle, with $5,635,000 coming from Soros himself, and the other $46,000,000 coming from the Fund For Policy Reform — a dark money venture founded, operated, and maintained under Soros' Open Society umbrella of nonprofit organizations.

Justice Democrats also received $100,000 from a group mentioned briefly above — Way To Win. Way To Win is a 501(c)(4) dark money venture co-founded by Leah Hunt-Hendrix, granddaughter of Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, and niece of Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt — as well as Democracy Alliance (according to the NY Times³). According to their most recent tax filings, in 2018 Way To Win pulled in over $7,000,000. Some of that year’s haul can be traced to five-figure grants from Groundswell Fund, Tides Center, and the Goldman Sachs Foundation — but the vast majority, some $6,500,000 — is anonymous and dark.

Rounding out the list of dark money contributors is the controversial Sunrise Movement, who donated $50,000 to Justice Democrats through their own PAC less than two months after receiving $250,000 from Soros' Democracy PAC⁴ — which accounts for 25% of that committee’s funding for the cycle. Sunrise also self funds much of their PAC, and considering they do not disclose any of their donors, that money is also dark.

Justice Democrats spent $960,000 in independent expenditures in Q2, almost all of it in support of Jamaal Bowman, who eventually succeeded in unseating incumbent Eliot Engel in the NY-16 Democratic primary. However, Bowman isn’t the only Justice Democrat to enjoy Super PAC support. Marie Newman, who unseated highly unpopular and ultraconservative incumbent Dan Lipinski in the IL-03 primary, had a similar benefit of more than $900,000 in support from the “Women Vote!” Super PAC , which is almost entirely funded by billionaire Donald Sussman. 

As we get closer towards November, it will be interesting to see where the money goes, and how much.

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