“Liberal activists embrace ‘dark money’ in Supreme Court fight”


Liberal activists, who were dramatically outspent in their last fight to fend off President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, are embracing a tactic that has been a mainstay of the conservative political playbook: tapping a war chest financed by unidentified donors to try to influence judicial nominations.

Demand Justice, a new group run by former aides to Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, plans to raise and spend at least $5 million to try to block the confirmation of Brett M. Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The group is housed within another nonprofit, allowing it to mask not only the names of its donors but the size of their contributions….

By far the most influential group on judicial nominations is the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which works to fill judicial vacancies across the country, including in state supreme courts and appellate courts.

It spent $17 million opposing Obama’s nominee, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, and supporting Trump’s previous pick, Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

So far, it has spent $5.3 million on its pro-Kavanaugh campaign focused on states where Senate Democrats are most vulnerable in the 2018 midterms, according to the group. It is prepared to spend as much as $10 million or more.

It received $23.5 million from a separate nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which funds conservative causes and groups, according to Wellspring’s tax records. Most of the money Wellspring received that year came from a single $28.5 million donation — and the identity of that donor remains unknown publicly.



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