But just three days after POLITICO’s inquiries, the BH Fund shut down, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
Adam Kennedy, a spokesman for the firm now known as CRC Advisors, which did extensive consulting work for Leo in 2017 and is now led by him, said the BH Fund has been dormant since late 2021. He confirmed it was dissolved in October. «as other organizations made it obsolete.»
In fact, I read now controls more than $1.6 billion in conservative donor funds, and is erecting a new architecture of dark money groups to manage it. Critics have long argued that understanding how Leo has distributed his trove of anonymous funds is critical to understanding how the conservative legal movement claimed a US Supreme Court majority.
“Nothing screams ‘concealing efforts’ like shutting down an organization just when you start getting questions about it,” he said. Saurav Ghoshdirector of federal campaign finance reform for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded by a former Republican commissioner of the Federal Election Commission.
A Senate committee is currently reviewing a new complaint calling for an investigation into whether Conway’s sale of his business violated federal ethics rules or criminal laws, Senate aides confirmed.
Since POLITICO first contacted Leo and CRC last fall, they have not questioned BH Fund’s involvement in the transaction. In 2019, when asked about BH Fund For a Washington Post documentary, Leo said: “um, BH Fund is a charity. You can look it up. He continued: «I don’t waste my time on stories involving money in politics because what matters to me are the ideas.»
Under the current tax code, nonprofits like the BH Fund can spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities without disclosing their donors, as long as they are considered «social welfare» activities that don’t primarily promote a political candidate. Legislative attempts to close the loopholes that allow dark money in US elections. have repeatedly failed in the last decade.
Leo’s apparent role in the sale of Conway’s business underscores why «dark money influence is doubly problematic once someone is in office because they are [potentially] able to influence outcomes,” Ghosh said.
In his complaint to the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the campaign for accountability a liberal watchdog group, cited a law that prohibits employees of the executive branch from participating «personally and substantially» in any government matter that affects their own financial interests.
“There are clear indications based on the facts in question that Ms. Conway was personally and substantially involved in advising President Trump to nominate justices to the Supreme Court, and that her personal financial interests were affected,” it says. complaint filed with the Senate.
Conway responded to the complaint in a text message to POLITICO: “That’s what outside groups ‘fighting for law and justice’ do to get attention. Use reporters,” he said.
CRC spokesman Kennedy said the «liberal watchdog groups» that filed the complaint should urge hearings on a company that took over administration and management for a liberal dark money network who fought Trump’s judicial nominations and spent millions in the 2020 election.
At the time of the purchase of Conway’s polling firm, CRC was also raising millions of dollars from Leo’s network of dark money nonprofits to promote his preferred candidates for the court, including at least $400,000 from the BH Fund for «consulting».
In 2020 Leo officially joined CRC Advisors as President.
In an October 21 email, POLITICO first approached CRC Advisors with a series of questions about the lien statements. Three days later, on October 24, Jonathan Bunch, president of CRC Advisors, signed the articles of dissolution for the BH Fund, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. A day after the Dec. 20 story, an unsigned amendment canceling the BH Fund’s 2017 lien was also filed with the commission.
Leo’s network of outside groups created successful advocacy campaigns around the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett and blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. . BH Fund operated together with two other entities linked to Leo to promote Trump’s nominees.
A series of House investigations into the Biden administration and the president’s son Hunter are expected to take center stage in the new Congress.
However, Democrats still control the Senate and its oversight committees. And concerns about the role of dark money in shaping the court’s new conservative majority are rising after the new conservative majority struck down 50-year precedent for federal abortion rights.
The Conway transaction “is further evidence of the troubling role Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society played in driving the judicial selection process for Donald Trump,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Dec. 20 following the report. of POLITICAL.
The complaint sent to Senator Peters, which stresses the importance of a quick response, also put the issue on law enforcement’s radar, as it blamed the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section Chief, Corey Amundson.
«It is all the more urgent that [the committee] investigate this matter because it is possible that criminal charges against Ms. Conway could be barred by the general five-year statute of limitations that governs most federal crimes,” the complaint says.
Still, the issue should not be ignored, said Michelle Kuppersmith, executive director of the liberal watchdog group.
“We want the Senate to make it clear that you don’t operate like that” as a government official, he said in an interview. “Just as firefighters go in when they see smoke, it is the duty of the Senate to investigate, for all the reasons we outlined in our complaint, to make it clear to government officials everywhere that potential wrongdoing will be investigated.”