A nonprofit affiliated with Leonard Leo sent millions to his company

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A major interest group within conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo’s network paid millions to his consulting firm, a new filing shows. This is the latest example of Leo’s web of nonprofits sending money to his company while the government monitored his transactions.

The Concord Fund, a Virginia-based nonprofit, paid $6 million to Leo’s firm CRC Advisors for “consulting” between July 2022 and the end of June 2023, according to documents provided to POLITICO by left-wing watchdog group Accountable.US . The revelations about the large amount of money transferred to Leo’s firm come amid mounting questions about Leo’s advocacy activities and whether he could benefit financially from nonprofits 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 into whether the groups skirted nonprofit rules. Leo has promised not to cooperate.

In recent years, Leo, co-chairman of the Federalist Society’s board, has amassed enormous influence in conservative legal circles by advising former President Donald Trump on judicial picks. That role has also led to additional control over its financial activities.

He also got a huge one A gift of $1.6 billion from businessman Barre Seid to fund Leo’s agenda through a group called the Marble Freedom Trust. The Marble Freedom Trust, which counts Leo as trustee and chairman, has been transferred tens of millions of dollars to the Concord Fund. The Concord Fund also paid millions to Leo’s profitable venture.

Between July 2022 and the end of June 2023, the Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network, received approximately $52.8 million. Between May 2022 and the end of April 2023, Marble Freedom Trust reported that it gave $55.5 million to the Concord Fund.

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Schwalb, a Democrat, has questioned whether the 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, have requested documents related to his 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, not long after news of the investigation came out.

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

Through counsel, CRC advisors denied that anything in the 990 provided evidence of “self-enrichment.” In a statement, the company called Politico’s reporting “irreparably biased” and “unreliable.”

The Concord Fund’s filing also illustrates how the grantmaking organization funded efforts across the country to hinder access to abortion through other groups, including a group 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 that fought against the Ohio constitutional amendment that restricted access to abortion anchored. The amendment was ultimately adopted.

The Concord Fund also donated $6 million to the Republican Governors Association and $4 million to the Republican Attorney Generals Association. It gave another $3 million to a group supporting the Republican candidate for Kentucky governor, David Cameron, who ultimately lost.

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The large donation to the Republican Association of Attorneys General is notable in part because a number of 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. It also donated $300,000 to a nonprofit founded by former presidential candidate and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

Accountable.US President Caroline Ciccone denounced the Concord Fund, calling it an important part of Leo’s machinery to transfer money to his own company.

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

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

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

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