Dahlia Lithwick and I went down this road a few weeks ago, but this piece has some new details on the money and connections between the networks of conservative lawyers stacking the courts with hard conservative judges and justices and new efforts to suppress the vote.
Leo’s network is prepared for whatever follows Election Day.
He began consolidating the existing strands earlier this year. In January, he announced he was leaving the Federalist Society to officially head up a push to spread “big money and expertise across the conservative movement,” as Axois put it.
Leo implied his effort was an answer to dark money groups on the left, which in 2018 outspent their conservative groups for the first time.
He surrounded himself with a familiar list of names, essentially making his role official in a network he’d helped create.
Leo became chairman of the newly branded CRC Advisors, Mueller’s public relations firm. Bunch, Leo’s right-hand man at Federalist Society, joined him.
To move the “big money,” they revamped two tax-exempt organizations already in their network, with Gary Marx at the helm.
One became The 85 Fund, the fiscal sponsor of the Honest Elections Project.
“The conservative movement is finally adopting some of the left’s tactics, but the left is still spending far more,” Marx told NBC News in a statement, pointing to the Arabella Advisors network, one of the largest left-leaning dark money networks. Like the Honest Elections Project, Arabella has said it is non-partisan.
The Judicial Crisis Network became an entity underneath The Concord Fund. Since forming, it has given more than $2 million to the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA), financial disclosures show. Some of that money has gone to paying consulting and research fees to CRC.
RAGA backed Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Several Republican attorneys general are also part of Lawyers for Trump, the group marshalling legal power for the election, which also includes Leo and Consovoy, the lawyer for the Honest Elections Project suit in Michigan.
Leo did not respond to an interview request or a detailed list of questions, nor did Consovoy or Torchinsky, the other lawyer on the Michigan suit. The Republican National Committee, for which both Consovoy and Torchinsky have worked, did not respond to an NBC News query.
The Federalist Society, where Leo remains co-chairman of the board, reiterated that it does not “take a position on legislation, litigation, candidates for office or judicial nominees.” The spokesman who sent that response to NBC News is a senior vice president at CRC Advisors.
But the support for conservative AGs could also be a sign of what’s to come.