A Foreign Billionaire Is Fueling Dems’ Dark Money Machine
Swiss-born billionaire Hansjorg Wyss’ organizations have donated more than $330 million since 2016 to liberal interest groups, some of whom directly promoted Democratic politicians, according to The Associated Press.
Foreign nationals are legally barred from donating to candidates or political committees, but Wyss-founded groups including the Berger Action Fund have sent $245 million combined to the Arabella Advisors-managed Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund, both founded by former Clinton White House appointee Eric Kessler, the outlet reported. The Sixteen Thirty Fund donates to political committees and nonprofit organizations that bankroll such committees for TV advertising in favor of political candidates and causes, and Federal Election Commission lawyers argued in summer 2022 for forcing the Sixteen Thirty Fund to be a registered political committee itself.
“The whole system is currently structured on this premise that we can take these nonprofit groups at their word,” Campaign Legal Center Director Saurav Ghosh said, according to the AP. “The reality is there is really no effective oversight to make sure money from a foreign national doesn’t wind up in electoral politics.”
New Venture Fund president Lee Bodner denies that his group does “any partisan electoral work,” and the Sixteen Thirty Fund claimed in summer 2022 that it did not use money from Wyss’ organizations for overt political action, but the two groups refused to detail how they prevent this, the AP reported. Wyss also created the Wyss Foundation that donates to environmental activists, and his representatives claim they follow legal rules restricting foreign nationals’ donations to “issue advocacy.”
Wyss was never punished for giving candidates and political committees $119,000 in direct funding between 1990 and 2006, despite foreign nationals being legally prohibited from being so, according to the AP. The nonprofit Fund For A Better Future, which has taken money from Wyss, launched the Climate Power project that helped bankroll a multi-million-dollar 2021 ad campaign supporting President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and paid more than $5 million for 2022 advertising in favor of 30 House Democratic candidates, based on campaign finance records.
Fund for a Better Future spokesperson Niki Woodard said the organization “carefully tracks and controls its revenues and expenses to ensure we comply with legal limits and with any restrictions placed on the funds we receive from donors,” the AP reported.
“The Berger Action Fund and the Wyss Foundation are committed to complying with all rules governing their activities and have established strict policies prohibiting their funds from being used for get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration, or supporting or opposing candidates or political parties,” the Berger Action Fund said, according to the outlet.
The parties did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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