“Trumpworld’s next target: Building a dark-money machine”


Liberals spent years building a massive dark-money machine. Now conservatives are trying to match them.

Major donors are convening at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort next month for a two-day gathering to talk about what went wrong in 2020 — and to build a big-dollar network to take back power.

The summit is being sponsored by the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization led by Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Trump is slated to headline the opening-night dinner, and the agenda includes an array of conservative luminaries and former Trump administration officials such as Stephen Miller, Russ Vought and Ric Grenell.

With the dust settling from the party’s 2020 defeat, senior Republicans say they’ve come to acknowledge a massive deficit: the lack of a dark-money infrastructure that can be pivotal to influencing elections and policy fights. Organizers say the gathering is aimed at creating a long-term blueprint for funding policy-focused nonprofits in order to compete with liberals who, through mega-donors like George Soros and Tom Steyer, have developed a well-oiled system for routing cash to a web of big-spending advocacy groups….

Republicans have long been active in creating super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. But in recent years they’ve been outmatched in the creation of nonprofits, which are more restricted in their ability to spend money on elections but can still raise vast sums to influence voters. According to a recent estimate from OpenSecrets, liberal groups directed more than $500 million in dark money to benefit Democratic candidates in the 2020 election, compared to only $200 million from conservative groups.

Conservatives point to the web of liberal nonprofits that played key roles in the 2020 elections, such as Fair Fight, an organization focused on voting rights. The Georgia-based group, which was founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, has been credited with helping Democrats win a slate of victories there.

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