Leonard Leo, everybody’s favorite dark money goon, is under scrutiny: Politico reported that Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb has launched an investigative probe into his sinister network of nonprofit groups.
The Lever has reported extensively on Leo’s shady shenanigans. From stacking the Supreme Court to bankrolling climate denial, eviscerating abortion protections, and championing the right to discriminate, the man truly does it all. But he might finally be starting to get his comeuppance. The probe follows increased media scrutiny and comes after a progressive watchdog group filed a complaint against Leo with the attorney general and the IRS.
Best known as Donald Trump’s White House “court whisperer,” Leo played a behind-the-scenes role in the nominations of all three of the former president’s Supreme Court justices and promoted them through his multi-billion-dollar network of nonprofits. Trump chose his three Supreme Court picks, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, from a list drawn up by Leo. More recently, Leo was the beneficiary of a $1.6 billion contribution, believed to be the biggest political donation in U.S. history.
It’s unclear what the scope of the investigation will be, or how much power the attorney general has to halt Leo’s influence. But hopefully, the move will bring increased scrutiny to the outsized power Leo holds over the conservative legal movement. At the very least, maybe it’ll make him sweat.
D.C. Attorney General is probing Leonard Leo’s network
The hedge fund of Justice Samuel Alito’s billionaire benefactor has been using a recent Alito-backed Supreme Court ruling to try to pressure federal regulators to back off new financial rules designed to fight fraud, according to documents reviewed by The Lever.
The hedge fund, Elliott Management, has been arguing that the rules are unconstitutional, and could ultimately try to bring a case before Alito to strike down the new regulations if they are enacted. The high court is currently considering a petition to hear a separate case involving the same firm.
ProPublica this week reported that Elliott Management founder, president, and co-CEO Paul Singer provided an undisclosed private jet flight to Alito, and has been a major donor to the Judicial Crisis Network, a dark money group that has funded campaigns to install conservative judges throughout the judiciary — including Alito. The justice has declined to recuse himself in past cases involving the hedge fund.
In early June, the SEC finalized part of the proposed anti-fraud rule but just reopened the public comment period for the disclosure rule that Elliott was fighting.
Nonetheless, the SEC’s proposed rules set up a potential court battle between the agency and Elliott, which could ultimately be decided in part by Singer’s Alaska fishing partner, Alito.
Elliott’s efforts to weaponize a recent Supreme Court case to block anti-fraud rules — and to potentially use the high court to kill them — spotlights how judges are in key positions to help billionaires who provide them with gifts and other largesse.
Alito Could Deliver Another Ruling For Billionaire Benefactor
UPDATE 6/23 No Labels Exposed: Here’s a List of Donors Funding Its Effort To Disrupt the 2024 Race
No Labels is helping a firm that raises money for right-wing extremists
Since its inception in 2010, No Labels has billed itself as a refuge for sensible centrists, inspiring a caucus on Capitol Hill called the “Problem Solvers.” More recently, it’s sought to assemble a potential third-party presidential ticket.
On No Label’s fundraising vendor’s Anedot Direct page, the firm promotes a “Conservative List” of organizations and candidates who can receive contributions directly through this service. The roster includes 205 entities, including 46 state GOP committees, Sen. Tim Scott’s and Nikki Haley’s presidential campaigns, 109 House Republican members (including Reps. Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz), 37 GOP senators (including Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul), and 11 organizations (including Turning Point USA, Moms for America, the National Association for Gun Rights, and the National Republican Congressional Committee).
Who, exactly, is paying for this thing?
While No Labels has not actually named a ticket it wants to see run, it has privately made it evident that it has one in mind. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is seen as a potential candidate and has joined at least one regular conference call held by the group in late April. A state official granted anonymity to speak freely said Jacobson and Clancy both mentioned Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) as potential candidates during a 2022 phone call about fundraising.
No Labels declines to reveal just who is funding its third party bid