Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Hates ‘Dark Money,’ Except When It Goes To Democrats Like Sheldon Whitehouse
“…you can’t allow the American people to be ignorant of what’s going on around them by letting politics be secret,” Whitehouse said while at the same time being secretive about the pervasive influence of dark money on Democratic politicians including his own election campaigns.
There are a lot of deeply dishonest, wildly hypocritical politicians in Washington, D.C., but few are worse than Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, who has ostensibly represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate since 2007.
The longtime liberal politico has made climate change, threatening the Supreme Court, and special interest funding in politics his main focal points during his time in office, but has always managed to conveniently overlook the pervasive influence of dark money forces not just on his party but on his own political campaigns (read more on that here as well).
We saw yet another of his “forgetful” moments on the issue of Democrat dark money funding during an interview Whitehouse did earlier this week with MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
Ahead of the State Department’s so-called “Summit for Democracy” this week, which Whitehouse touted in a Boston Globe op/ed and which included President Biden giving scripted speeches, he told Hayes during a discussion about the DOJ’s lawsuit against Texas over their redistricting maps that there were “two separate dark money, dark economy problems” America faced, and that both alleged “problems” stemmed from GOP machinations:
Hayes: How important do you think this summit is this week? Is it a real thing or is it — is it show?
Whitehouse: No, I think the summit is real. I think that there are two separate dark money, dark economy problems that America is facing. One is the dark money control that is packed to Supreme Court that has done climate denial, that is behind voter suppression, and that runs so much of Republican politics.
The other is on the international side kleptocrats and criminals are able to hide enormous amounts of stolen money, and they hide it in rule of law countries behind the secrecy that is used by the domestic schemers. So, the to relate in that sense and the shared solution for both is a lot more transparency to give to American citizens, voters. What James Madison called for which is knowledge because knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And you can`t allow the American people to be ignorant of what`s going on around them by letting politics be secret.
— Cameron Cawthorne (@Cam_Cawthorne) December 7, 2021
On his Twitter page Thursday, Whitehouse boasted of heading to the floor of the Senate to decry “dark money organizations bankrolling both climate denial and far-right court capture”:
Headed to the Senate floor to reveal the dark money organizations bankrolling both climate denial and far-right court capture. Grim stuff.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) December 9, 2021
Left out of his remarks, of course, were the fresh reports of the over a billion dollars that were raised by “liberal dark money juggernauts” to carry Democrats (including judges and district attorneys) and their policies over the finish line in 2020:
2020 Reminder: Liberal dark money juggernaut raises $1.6 billion to flood left-wing groups with cash, tax forms revealhttps://t.co/S0oZmXhs0V
— Cameron Cawthorne (@Cam_Cawthorne) December 7, 2021
From that report:
The forms further show that the secret money network, managed by Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Arabella Advisors, pushed an astounding $896 million in contributions and grants to liberal groups last year.
The Arabella-managed network has solidified how Democrats quietly benefit from massive amounts of anonymous donations as they simultaneously rail against the influence of dark money in the political sphere.
Each of the funds acts as a fiscal sponsor to other liberal nonprofits, meaning they provide their tax and legal status to the nonprofits housed beneath the funds. This arrangement allows the fiscally sponsored groups to avoid filing tax forms to the IRS, which would shed light on their financials.
Let’s also take a look at how much various Never Trumper factions purposely aided Democrats in the 2020 elections with their own dark money efforts – which included funding from Democratic groups:
A group led by longtime GOP strategist Bill Kristol and a group of fellow so-called Never Trump Republicans raised more than $35 million during the 2020 election, funding projects that targeted then-President Donald Trump.
It was a record haul for the relatively young nonprofit organization, which was established in 2018, the second year of Trump’s term in office. In 2019, it raised $9 million, according to a filing.
The group, called Defending Democracy Together, used its haul to spend more than $13 million on grants during 2020. Its biggest single contribution, $6 million, went toward one of the group’s projects, Republican Voters Against Trump, according to a 990 tax disclosure first reviewed by CNBC.
Defending Democracy Together is, like WorkMoney, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that does not publicly disclose their donors. Its 990 disclosure form shows two anonymous donations each worth over $10 million. One of those donations came from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a dark money fund that often backs Democratic leaning causes.
Don’t forget the Lincoln Project, either, although their influence on Democrats appears to be waning a bit in light of the John Weaver grooming scandal and the group’s disturbing attempts at covering it up.
I know a lot of people hate “whataboutism” in politics, but this is one issue where it simply can’t be avoided. The fact of the matter is that the dark money groups are here to stay, regardless of Whitehouse’s superficial protestations to the contrary.
The primary reasons why are that “both sides” enjoy the benefits they bring and also because most Republicans thankfully aren’t purists on the matter and understand that when Democrats like Whitehouse rail on about stemming this particular funding flow that they have zero intentions of holding themselves and their party to the same high standards to which they want Republicans held.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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