ICYMI: Mounting Press and Scrutiny on Leonard Leo’s Far-Right Dark Money Empire

September 11, 2023

Leonard Leo and Ginni Thomas’s Web of Alliances Spills into Public View

Washington, DC —  Yesterday, POLITICO reported on their investigation exposing Leonard Leo’s sprawling dark money empire and its influence on our country.

 POLITICO writes, “The Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case transformed the world of politics. It loosened restrictions on campaign spending and unleashed a flow of anonymous donor money to nonprofit groups run by political activists.” 

“The activists included Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo and his ideological soulmate, a hard-edged activist named Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.”

“From those early discussions among Leo, Thomas and Crow would spring a billion-dollar force that has helped remake the judiciary and overturn longstanding legal precedents on abortion, affirmative action and many other issues. It funded legal scholars to devise theories to challenge liberal precedents, helped to elect state attorneys general willing to apply those theories and launched lavish campaigns for conservative judicial nominees who would cite those theories in their rulings from the bench.”

“The movement’s triumphs are now visible but its engine remains hidden: A billion-dollar network of groups, most of which are registered as tax-exempt charities or social welfare organizations. Taking advantage of gaps in disclosure laws, they shield the identities of most of their donors and some of the recipients of the funds.”

“Leo’s role as the central figure in this movement has long been known, culminating in his acquisition last year of what many believe to be the largest political donation in history. Few are aware of the extent to which the movement’s baby steps were taken in concert with Ginni Thomas.”

“Two months before the Citizens United decision, but after the justices had signaled their intentions by requesting new arguments, attorney Cleta Mitchell — later to play a role in Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 elections — filed papers for Ginni Thomas to create a nonprofit group of a type that ultimately benefited from the decision. Leo was one of two directors listed on a separate application to conduct business in the state of Virginia. Thomas was president. She signed it on New Year’s Eve of 2009, and Crow provided much of the initial cash. A key Leo aide, Sarah Field, would come aboard to help Thomas manage the group, which they called Liberty Central.”

“Leo himself had played a strong role in ensuring Trump’s election. When conservatives expressed doubts about the surprise GOP nominee, Leo helped reassure them by persuading Trump to commit to choosing Supreme Court nominees from a list that Leo himself drafted.”


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