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‘Shadowy’ dark money network behind left-wing causes exposed in new report

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‘Shadowy’ dark money network behind left-wing causes exposed in new report

An expansive network of “shadowy” dark money donors has grown to rival the influence of the conservative Koch brothers — pumping millions into left-wing causes ranging from health care to climate change to abortion — all while flying well under the radar of public scrutiny, according to an explosive new report obtained by Fox News.

The report, by conservative watchdog Capital Research Center, describes a band of nonprofits operating under the banner of Washington-based philanthropy company Arabella Advisors. Those “pop up groups” are housed in four Arabella-controlled “sister” nonprofits, according to the report: the New Venture Fund, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund.

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“Together, these groups form an interlocking network of ‘dark money’ pop-up groups and other fiscally sponsored projects, all afloat in a half-billion-dollar ocean of cash,” the report says. “The real puppeteer, though, is Arabella Advisors, which has managed to largely conceal its role in coordinating so much of the professional Left’s infrastructure under a mask of ‘philanthropy.’”

The report says the “hydra-like” network brought in $1.6 billion between 2013 and 2017 “to advance the political policies desired by wealthy left-wing interests,” as the network’s revenues grew by 392 percent. The four Arabella-controlled “sister” groups brought in $582 million in 2017 alone, according to the report. If the four groups were a single entity, it would make them the 22nd largest public charity in America, with higher revenues than the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood or the Clinton Foundation.

“The size and scope of the Arabella network of funds demonstrates far more ‘dark money’ exists on the left side of the political spectrum than has been previously admitted,” the report says.

Arabella’s website says the company was founded to “provide strategic guidance for effective philanthropy” and is “dedicated to helping clients make a difference on the issues that matter most to them, from climate to women and girls, education, good food, and more.” All told, the company represents clients with collective assets totaling more than $100 billion.

But the report alleges the group blurs the line between philanthropy and political advocacy on issues such as ObamaCare, gun control, abortion and opposition to the confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And it says that due to the financial arrangements and lack of donor disclosure, “it is impossible to know which organization subsidizes the various campaigns and political movements spawned by Arabella’s funds.”

The company was founded by Eric Kessler, who has worked both in the Clinton administration, where he managed conservation issues, and as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He also founded the New Venture Fund and is on the board of the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Arabella did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News. New Venture Fund President Lee Bodner told Fox News in a statement: “The New Venture Fund is proud of our work supporting charitable projects that improve peoples’ lives across a wide range of issues, funded by a diverse set of donors.”

The report claims the group runs a network of “astroturf” activities including as many as 340 “pop up” groups — which the report says are often little more than websites created to give the appearance of grassroots campaigns. It cites the organization’s activities pushing back against Republican efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare as an example of its political activism.

“At a glance, these groups — such as Save My Care and Protect Our Care — appeared to be impassioned examples of citizen activists defending ObamaCare,” the report says. “In reality, neither ‘not-for-profit’ advocacy group appears to have paid staff, held board meetings, or even owned so much as a pen.”

Consequently, the report says, the groups can be used to run “short-term, high intensity media campaigns targeting the news cycle” such as during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing. The report gave the example of activists, led by Demand Justice, waving glossy “Stop Kavanaugh” signs in protest of the conservative nominee’s confirmation.

Demand Justice, led by former Hillary Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon, is very active on judicial issues — and is more than just a website. But the report described the organization as part of the broader network, specifically “a front for the Sixteen Thirty Fund.”

The Sixteen Thirty Fund, according to a July 2018 Politico report, was described as “among the most prolific political advertisers of 2018” and aired 6,885 broadcast TV ads between January and July while spending $4.6 million on TV alone. Politico cited the group as an example of the left embracing the “dark money” tactics it long accused the right of weaponizing.

LIBERAL ‘DARK MONEY’ GROUPS OUTSPENT CONSERVATIVE ONES IN 2018 ELECTIONS

Politico identified 12 groups set up through the Sixteen Thirty Fund on health care alone. By serving as those groups’ “fiscal sponsor,” Sixteen Thirty Fund manages the money and aggregates their financial activities in its tax filings — making it hard to work out how much money was spent by the different groups and where.

The new report says liberal mega-donor George Soros’ Democracy Alliance, for instance, used the Sixteen Thirty Fund and New Venture Fund to host several projects “that didn’t disclose their original funders.” The Capital Research Center report says that Arabella’s nonprofit network allows it to mask the “pop up” groups’ nature, making them seem like the work of “grassroots” activists rather than what it calls “front groups for multi-million-dollar non-profits.”

Conservatives, however, are still spending more “dark money” than liberals in some areas. Vice, citing a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, reported last year that groups supporting Kavanaugh’s confirmation spent at least $7.3 million on TV ads, while those opposing him spent at least $2.9 million.

Democrats and left-wing activists — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. — have been increasingly vocal in their calls to clamp down and regulate “dark money” in U.S. political activities.

But dark money has had bipartisan beneficiaries.

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A January report from Issue One, a bipartisan advocacy group, shows that liberal groups spent over half of the $150 million of dark money in the latest election. Conservative groups spent a third of the figure, while nonpartisan groups spent just 15 percent.

And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., recently said that dark money is a problem “on both sides of the aisle,” though he said it “occurs mostly on the Republican side.”

The Capital Research Center report warns: “Before left-of-center activists and politicians demand laws to increase transparency in the funding of campaigns and public policy advocacy, they may first wish to consider voluntarily disclosing their own funding sources.”

Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.

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Rashida Tlaib’s removal from committees urged by Zionist Organization of America

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Rashida Tlaib claims Dem leadership uses party’s minority members as tokens of diversity

One of America’s oldest Jewish organizations called Wednesday for U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., to be removed from congressional committees and from the Democratic Party.

In an editorial posted on its website, the Zionist Organization of America, which dates to 1897, pointed to what it described as Tlaib’s “anti-Israel record,” and accused the freshman congresswoman of associating with “terrorists, anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists.”

“Rashida Tlaib’s anti-Israel record was already well-known before she was elected in last year’s midterm elections,” the ZOA article asserts. “She calls Israel a ‘racist country’ on the basis of the lie that Israel discriminates against those ‘darker skinned,’ supports the destruction of Israel in favor of an Arab-dominated state (“It has to be one state”), ‘absolutely’ backs withholding U.S. aid from Israel, and openly supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is committed to international ostracism and weakening of Israel with a view to its eventual elimination.”

FRESHMAN REP. RASHIDA TLAIB INTRODUCES RESOLUTION URGING TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

The ZOA supports its assertions with links to news stories that quote the 42-year-old Palestinian-American lawmaker from Detroit.

The same article includes a list of people with whom Tlaib has been photographed, or about whom Tlaib has posted social media messages, and includes information about their alleged links to bombings or other crimes.

“It is perfectly clear that Rashida Tlaib is not in the smallest degree ashamed, and has not the slightest inhibition about, being publicly being associated with these anti-Semites, terrorists and glorifiers of Jew-murderers,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Chairman Mark Levenson said in a joint statement.

JEWISH GROUPS CONDEMN RASHIDA TLAIB OVER TIES TO RADICAL PRO-HEZBOLLAH, ANTI-ISRAEL ACTIVIST

“The Democratic Party must do the only honorable thing,” they continued, “which is to expel her from the party and remove her from Congressional committees.”

Since taking office in January, Tlaib has been a lightning rod for criticism from Republicans as well as from members of her own party.

She quickly drew national attention just hours after being sworn in, when she used a profanity in calling for the impeachment of President Trump.

“We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf—er,’” she told a crowd of supporters, referring to Trump.

In March, Tlaib denounced anti-Semitism in an interview with the Detroit News.

“I’m always pushing back against it,” Tlaib said of anti-Semitism. “But this is going to continue happening because I’m Palestinian.”

She claimed that an important distinction needed to be made between anti-Semitism and her criticisms of the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“When I criticize Netanyahu’s discrimination, inequality, human rights violations, saying you have to do better and we have to look at real equality and even desegregating certain communities,” Tlaib told the News, “that, to me, does not make me charging toward the Jewish faith at all. And I’m very conscientious of that.”

In April, Tlaib quickly came to the defense of another progressive Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, after Omar referred to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as “some people did something.”

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Tlaib claimed that critics had taken Omar’s words out of context.

“My sister Ilhan Omar, what she was talking about, was uplifting people by supporting their civil liberties and civil rights,” Tlaib said in a television interview. “She has always, always condemned any strategy, especially of a person directly impacted by being a refugee herself.”

More recently, Tlaib asked her supporters last week to join her in a hunger strike in protest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), arguing that the federal agency that enforces U.S. immigration laws should be shut down.

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Hundreds of decks of playing cards arrive for Washington state lawmaker who criticized nurses

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Washington state lawmaker riles nurses by saying that some spend 'considerable' time playing cards

The Washington state senator who suggested that some nurses “play cards” during a “considerable” portion of their shifts received more than 600 packages of playing cards Tuesday as backlash over her remarks continued to grow.

The United Parcel Service location in Tumwater, Wash., said that it received 667 packages of playing cards addressed to state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, after an open letter criticizing her remarks circulated on Facebook last week and included Walsh’s P.O. box address, Seattle’s KOMO-TV reported.

“You said that not all nurses deserve breaks as they just sit around playing cards while on shift anyway,” the letter read. “I know nurses who can go all night without food or a bathroom break. I know nurses with nerve damage and back pain from doing whatever it takes to take care of patients. I know nurses who cry in their cars. Do you think that’s where they play cards, Senator Walsh?”

WASHINGTON STATE LAWMAKER RILES NURSES BY SAYING SOME SPEND ‘CONSIDERABLE’ TIME PLAYING CARDS

Washington state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in rural hospitals. (Associated Press)

Washington state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in rural hospitals. (Associated Press)

The letter went on to predict that after the next election cycle Walsh may find herself with “plenty of time to play cards and plenty of cards to play with.”

Walsh first drew criticism from nursing professionals while debating a bill last week that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses and would also provide mandatory overtime protections for them.

She pushed for an amendment that would exclude hospitals with fewer than 25 beds from the provision, arguing that such small facilities struggle to provide 24-hour care as it is.

“I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks,” Walsh said. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”

Despite the bill being passed with Walsh’s amendment, her ill-received comments sparked a flurry of social media posts mocking her.

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Walsh addressed the issue Monday, apologizing to those who were offended and saying she would spend a day shadowing a nurse throughout his or her 12-hour shift.

“I want to offer my heartfelt apologies to those I offended with my comments on the Senate floor last Tuesday. I was tired, and in the heat of argument on the Senate floor, I said some things about nurses that were taken out of context – but still they crossed the line.”

In 2012, some comments by Walsh on a different subject also went viral, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported. That year Walsh bucked most other members of the state GOP by speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. The state’s House subsequently backed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Bernie Sanders wrong about prisoners and voting, ex-con released under Trump reform law says

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Bernie Sanders wrong about prisoners and voting, ex-con released under Trump reform law says

The first man released from prison under President Trump’s criminal justice reform law reacted to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., saying that prisoners should be permitted to vote by noting the “logistical” problems of allowing prisoners serving a sentence to vote and backing prisoners who served their time to have their rights restored.

“I do know while you’re incarcerated you do lose some of your liberties. But my thing is, once a person has been completely released and they paid their debt to society and they are back in society actually functioning, paying taxes, then they should have their rights restored to vote,” Matthew Charles, who was released from prison under the First Step Act, said on Fox News’  “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

KAMALA HARRIS BACKTRACKS, NOW SAYS CRIMINALS LIKE BOSTON BOMBER ‘SHOULD BE DEPRIVED’ OF RIGHT TO VOTE

“But during the period they’re incarcerated, it’s going to be like a complex issue because of the logistics. You got people incarcerated in states that they actually are not from.”

Sanders opened himself to scrutiny this week after saying that not only should incarcerated prisoners be permitted to vote but that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should also be permitted to vote.

“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they will be punished. But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people,” Sanders said Monday on a CNN Town Hall.

Trump’s re-election campaign called out Sanders Wednesday, describing his idea “deeply offensive.”

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“The extremity and radicalism of the 2020 Democrats knows no bounds,” Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News.

“Giving imprisoned terrorists, sex offenders, and murderers the right to vote is an outrageous proposal that is deeply offensive to innocent victims across this country, some of whom lost their lives and are forever disenfranchised by the very killers that 2020 Democrats seek to empower,” she said.

Fox News’ Sally Persons and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

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