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Leonard Leo-Linked Nonprofit Sent Millions to His Company

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Leonard Leo-Linked Nonprofit Sent Millions to His Company

A key advocacy group in conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo’s network paid millions to his consulting firm, a new document shows, the latest example of Leo’s network of nonprofits sending money to his business amid the government scrutiny of their businesses.

The Concord Fund, a Virginia-based nonprofit, paid $6 million to Leo’s firm CRC Advisors between July 2022 and the end of June 2023 for “consulting,” according to the document provided to POLITICO by the left-wing watchdog group Accountable.US. Revelations of the large sum transferred to Leo’s firm come amid growing questions about Leo’s advocacy activities and whether he has been able to benefit financially from nonprofit groups pushing a conservative agenda across the country.

D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb has been investigating Leo’s network, which includes the Concord Fund, as part of an investigation to determine whether the groups skirted nonprofit rules. Leo has promised not to cooperate.

In recent years, Leo, co-chairman of the Federalist Society’s board of directors, has amassed enormous influence in conservative legal circles, advising former President Donald Trump on judicial elections. That role has also brought greater scrutiny to his financial activities.

He also got a huge Donation of 1.6 billion dollars from businessman Barre Seid to fund Leo’s agenda through a group called the Marble Freedom Trust. The Marble Freedom Trust, with Leo as trustee and president, has transferred tens of millions of dollars to the Concordia Fund. The Concord Fund has also paid millions to Leo’s for-profit business.

Between July 2022 and the end of June 2023, the Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network, received about $52.8 million. Between May 2022 and the end of April 2023, Marble Freedom Trust reported having donated 55.5 million dollars to the Concordia Fund.

Schwalb, a Democrat, has questioned whether Leo groups’ activities violate nonprofit tax laws. Republican members of Congress have launched their own investigation into the attorney general’s investigation. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.), chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees respectively, requested documents related to their investigation.

The Concord Fund has reported spending $140,000 to lobby Congress on “issues related to government oversight, law enforcement, public advocacy, and the rule of law” since it registered to lobby in late 2023, shortly after news of the investigation broke.

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network (an alias of the Concord Fund), did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Through its attorney, CRC Advisors denied that anything in the 990 provided evidence of “self-enrichment.” In a statement, the company called Politico’s coverage “hopelessly biased” and “unreliable.”

The Concord Fund filing also illustrates how the grant-making organization funded efforts across the country to hinder access to abortion through other groups, including one that fought a constitutional amendment in Ohio that protected access to the procedure.

The Concord Fund donated $8.8 million to Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a leading anti-abortion group, along with $3 million to Protect Women Ohio Action, a group fighting the constitutional amendment in Ohio that enshrined the access to abortion. The amendment was finally approved.

The Concord Fund also donated $6 million to the Republican Governors Association and $4 million to the Republican Attorneys General Association. He gave an additional $3 million to a group supporting Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate David Cameron, who ultimately lost.

The large donation to the Republican Attorneys General Association is notable, in part, because several Republican attorneys general have also questioned Schwalb’s investigation into Leo.

The Concord Fund also donated $500,000 each to a Florida political committee then called Friends of Ron DeSantis and to a nonprofit founded by former Vice President Mike Pence called Advancing American Freedom. He also donated $300,000 to a nonprofit organization founded by former presidential candidate and U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

Responsible. US President Caroline Ciccone sharply criticized the Concord Fund, calling it an important part of Leo’s machinery to transfer money to her own business.

“Leonard Leo’s Concord Fund is at the center of his dark far-right money network and is a key cog in Leo’s apparent self-enrichment scheme,” Ciccone said.

In its financial filing, the Concord Fund reported that it produced “radio and television advertisements on important legal and civic issues, court packing, executive branch appointments, federalism and civic responsibility.” It also reported paying about $3.8 million to media buying company Mentzer Media for “Advocacy,” but CRC Advisors was the Concord Fund’s largest independent contractor by millions of dollars.

Fund 85, also part of Schwalb’s investigation, paid $21 million to Leo’s consulting firm in 2022.

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