DENVER — While Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold aggressively pursues a lawsuit against a conservative nonprofit over so-called “black money” political spending, she has remained conspicuously silent on progressive organizations outside of the United States. State doing the exact same thing on a much larger scale in Colorado.
A story by Colorado Public Radio (CPR) recently explained how Griswold fined Unite for Colorado, a 501(c)(4), $40,000 and ordered it to name its donors after the group spent less than $4 million on three different voting questions in 2020.
However, as mentioned earlier in Finish Colorado, the progressive non-profit organization Sixteen Thirty Fund, among others, continues to pump millions into Colorado’s election without any restrictions from Griswold’s office.
A 501(c)(4) is a type of tax-exempt nonprofit organization that is permitted to keep its donors anonymous while engaging in political activities, as long as their participation does not represent a “part substantial amount of their expenses”. For this reason, unlike a 501(c)(3), donations to a 501(c)(4) are not tax deductible.
In fact, political participation and lobbying through a 501(c)(4) is commonplace as a social protection agency, which the IRS defines as “an organization (that is) not organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare”.
The IRS code also states that while a 501(c)(4) cannot become involved in candidate elections, they may “engage in certain political activities, so long as it is not its main activity.
Yet Griswold, while fining conservative groups and ordering them to reveal their donors, is ignoring groups like the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which it says his last 990 filing with the IRS (for 2020), received $388 million in contributions spread over 30 pages, without a single donor being identified, nearly three times what it had raised in the previous two years.
The same group donated $325 million of it to progressive causes across the United States, including $7 million directly to Colorado’s 2020 ballot issues, plus another $19.3 million to another progressive black money group, the North Fund, which in turn has donated just under $7 million more to these same issues, as well as to progressive political organizations. In total, the two groups’ donations to Colorado included:
- Access to abortion for all: $1,450,000
- Better Co. Alliance: $400,000
- Born to Run Colorado: $35,000
- Colorado Creating Opportunities: $250,000
- Colorado Consumer Health Initiative: $27,600
- Colorado Families First: $7,042,272
- Fair Lines Colorado: $63,000
- Colorado first forward: $1,500,000
- New Era Colorado Foundation: $24,067
- Progress Now Colorado: $114,000
- Advance Now in Colorado Education: $15,000
- Protect Colorado Recovery: $950,000
- Rockies values: $1,590,000
- Yes to the national popular vote: $250,000
Black Money Progressive Monster
According to a recent report in Politico, the Sixteen Thirty Fund has grown from raising a few million a year to a “liberal black money behemoth” in 2020, fighting conservative causes, Donald Trump, his court nominees and Republican senators.
“Overall, this is absolutely one of the greatest fundraising machines I’ve ever encountered,” Robert Maguire, research director at open government group CREW and an expert on political organizations, told Politico. non-profit. “I’m really struggling to think of any other band, especially recently, that could rival it.”
Griswold’s office did not return a request for comment from Finish Colorado.
According to the CPR story, one of Scott Wasserman’s complaints, president of the progressive Denver-based Bell Policy Center (and one of the plaintiffs against Unite for Colorado) is that the organization paid for the collection of signatures and digital advertisements for various Colorado ballots. measures, but he did not respond to Finish Colorado seeking comment on how this differs from the Sixteen Thirty Fund almost single-handedly funding a $7 million campaign to push through paid family medical leave in the 2020 statewide ballot.
Additionally, in 2018, Sixteen Thirty donated just under $2 million for a ballot measure against payday loans, as well as $3 million to successfully fight Amendment 74, a human rights measure. property that ultimately failed in the ballot.
Wasserman also said Unite for Colorado’s sole purpose “was to put regressive tax cuts on ballots and advance other issues that they were clearly exploiting for political and partisan gain.” However, the Sixteen Thirty Fund states on its website that its purpose is also political and partisan: “As progressives, we have a responsibility to mobilize in the face of societal challenges and to provide new investments and initiatives to defend this in what we believe,” Amy Kurtz, president, said in part. “…Our democracy depends on people making their voices heard.”
According to the Secretary of State’s website, Unite for Colorado spent only about 18% ($3.2 million) of the $17 million it raised on voting issues in Colorado, while the Sixteen Thirty Fund spent 84% of its income on many political issues, most of the remaining 16% paying its employees.
Wasserman also told the CPR that he believes only 501(c)(4)s that have been around long enough should be able to donate to political issues without disclosing their donors.
“We’ve seen Unite for Colorado rise almost overnight — no past experience,” Wasserman told CPR, adding that his group also doesn’t disclose its donors but “has a decades-long history,” according to the report. story. But as the Politico story points out, the Sixteen Thirty Fund has become a black money “behemoth” in the past few years alone, tripling its fundraising in 2020 alone.
The Politico story exposed the hypocrisy in how the political left has radically changed its tone on the use of black money.
“His massive fundraising and spending in 2020 illustrates how the left embraced the use of ‘black money’ to advocate for its causes in recent years,” the story reads. “After denouncing big Republican donors over the past decade, as well as Supreme Court rulings that flooded politics with more money, Democrats are now taking advantage of it. hundreds of millions of dollars in undisclosed donations as well.
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