by Kevin Daley and Andrew Kerr
– Progressives have formed a new political outfit to mobilize left-wing energy on judicial confirmations, including Judge Kavanaugh
– The group, Demand Justice, is financed and administratively supported by the Sixteen Thirty Fund
– George Soros’ advocacy network has given millions to the Sixteen Thirty Fund in recent years
A new political advocacy group that vowed to put $5 million behind an effort to stop Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court has significant ties to the liberal financier George Soros.
A Daily Caller News Foundation review has found that the group’s primary financial supporter is a nonprofit to whom Soros has given millions.
The group, Demand Justice (DJ), is organized and financed by a 501(c)(4) called the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which collected some $2.2 million in contributions from the Open Society Policy Center (OSPC), one of Soros’ primary donation vehicles, between 2012 and 2016.
The Soros Connection
The Fund is largely financed by a handful of donors. Financial statements filed with state oversight officials in 2014 show just three contributors accounted for 70 percent — or some $11.5 million — of the Fund’s total donations and grant revenue. Disclosure forms filed with the same agency in 2016 present similar facts. Fewer than five donors gave $13.3 million to the Fund, representing 63 percent of their donations.
One of those donors is the OSPC. The Center’s tax forms show the Soros group gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Fund each year between 2012 and 2016, the last year in which records are publicly accessible. The Center gave the Fund $350,000 in 2012, $772,000 in 2013, $125,000 in 2014, $550,000 in 2015, and $481,483 in 2016.
OSPC is practically indistinct from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), Soros’ philanthropic and grant-giving network. OSPC has no employees of its own, according to the Center’s 2016 tax forms. Rather, Foundations employees are compensated for any work done for the Center. Said compensation is determined by the OSF, and documented in OSF’s internal records.
“OSPC has no employees,” the form reads. “Employees of Open Society [Foundations], a related section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, perform services for OSPC. OSPC advances funds to Open Society [Foundations] for their services based on the time they spend on OSPC matters. Their compensation is determined by Open Society [Foundations], and is based on market comparability data and is documented in Open Society [Foundations’] records.”
A New Shadow Group
Demand Justice was formed in the spring of 2018 as the progressive counterpart to a constellation of conservative advocacy groups which advertise and organize around judicial confirmations. Republicans have significantly outpaced Democrats in this space in recent years, given conservative voters’ sustained interest in the federal courts.
Executive director Brian Fallon told The New York Times that DJ hopes to “sensitize rank-and-file progressives to think of the courts as a venue for their activism and a way to advance the progressive agenda.”
Its ranks are staffed by alums of the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign: Fallon, the former Clinton campaign press secretary, serves as executive director and longtime Obama aide Christopher Kang is chief counsel. Other Clinton veterans involved with the group include Gabrielle McCaffrey and Diana Bowen, according to LinkedIn.
The Fund serves as Demand Justice’s fiscal sponsor. As such, DJ does not have to submit its own tax returns or disclose its supporters. The Fund registered the trade name “Demand Justice” with the Washington D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory affairs on May 2.
The National Council of Nonprofits says that fiscal sponsors provide “fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services” for its dependents, like Demand Justice. As such, many grants or donations DJ receives are awarded by way of the Fund. Both organizations are based out of the same Washington, D.C., address.
Supporters can also give to DJ through ActBlue Civics, a major fundraising platform for leftwing causes.
Given this structure, it is difficult to know how much money individual donors like Soros have channeled to Demand Justice.
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court presents the first significant political conflict since DJ was founded in the spring of 2018. The outfit vowed to put $5 million dollars behind a multi-platform effort to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The campaign will feature television spots promoting embattled Democratic Senate incumbents in West Virginia, Indiana, and North Dakota, who face competitive Republican challengers this November.
They will also run ads in Maine and Alaska, urging GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to oppose the nomination. Collins and Murkowski are pro choice moderates who have broken with their party on Obamacare repeal and federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The spots urge the senators to protect abortion access by withholding support for nominees who oppose the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.