Sacramento Bee: Web of secret money hides one mega-donor funding conservative court

Robert Maguire
Nov 21, 2017
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When a small nonprofit called the Judicial Crisis Network poured millions into a campaign to stop the Senate from confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick last year, and then spent millions more supporting President Donald Trump’s choice for the same seat, political observers assumed conservatives from around the country were showering the group with donations.

Not so.

Newly obtained tax documents show that JCN’s money came almost entirely from yet another secretive nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which flooded JCN with nearly $23.5 million in 2016.

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"It sounds like Wellspring Committee acted as a dark money conduit to provide an extra layer of secrecy to whomever was bankrolling the Judicial Crisis Network ads," Brendan Fischer of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington said in an email interview. "This has the effect of layering secrecy on top of secrecy, and almost entirely insulating donors from any form of public accountability."

But, Fischer added, "Even though the public doesn’t know who is really behind the tens of millions spent, there is nothing stopping these secret donors from making their identities known to the beneficiaries of that spending."

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