Critics of dark-money political groups argue that all funds donated to these organizations are fungible in the sense that giving money to a group for a specific purpose helps offset the costs of the group’s other activities and overhead.
“At some point the money you’re giving is freeing up resources to spend elsewhere and you are contributing to that – whether you like it or not,” said John Pudner, executive director of Take Back Our Republic, a conservative watchdog group that advocates for more transparency for money in politics.
Pudner pointed to Planned Parenthood as the prime example of how these offsets work. Planned Parenthood says it doesn’t spend any federal funds on performing abortions, but pro-life groups for years have argued that the federal funding helps free up other resources that are, in turn, used to provide abortions.
“When you have all this money coming in the door, you cannot prove that a given dollar you provided did not go to funding an abortion – that’s a nonsensical argument,” Pudner told RCP.
Pudner dismisses the argument that the Bloomberg philanthropic funds aren’t fungible and couldn’t have been redirected to help Acronym launch Shadow.
“I find it concerning that when you’re talking to liberals, they apply the term ‘dark money’ to things they don’t like, but when it applies to them, they want to get technical in their language,” he said of Loeser’s insistence that none of the nearly $9 million the Bloomberg Family Foundation provided helped produce or launch the Iowa app.
Pudner described the New Venture Fund as a “huge pass-through group” to allow donors to conceal their involvement in certain activities. Otherwise, wealthy donors would just fund the activities through their own philanthropy funds.
“You go to the Arabella Advisors because they are the guys that make the political projects happen. You go to them for a specific purpose – to move money around and wipe your hands of it,” Pudner said. “When the funds come out of the Arabella world or you give money to Arabella to create a website, they can stand alone and it doesn’t have to say it was paid for by any individual.”
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