Democrats’ HR1 election bill boosted by liberal dark money group financed by foreign national & affiliated with ACORN

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RELATED STORY: ACORN’s Legacy Lives On in the Sixteen Thirty Fund: Documents recently obtained by the Capital Research Center shed more light on the hazy origins of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a mega-lobbying group that Politico has labeled a “massive ‘dark money’ group [that] boosted Democrats in 2018.” According to its initial filings with the IRS in February 2009 (archived here), the Sixteen Thirty Fund—the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of Arabella Advisors’ “dark money” empire—was seeded with over $350,000 from five major left-wing groups: ACORN, Americans United for Change, the Sierra Club, USAction, and Working America.

Sixteen Thirty Fund has spent nearly $2M to lobby on issues, from HR1 to DC statehood

The Sixteen Thirty Fund is part of a massive dark money network managed by D.C.-based consulting firm Arabella Advisors, which was founded by Eric Kesser, a former Bill Clinton appointee and member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

A liberal dark money group bankrolled by a Swiss foreign national is spending big on lobbying in favor of Democrats’ election overhauls, including H.R. 1, filings show.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a fiscal sponsor and clearinghouse for dozens of left-wing groups and projects, has poured nearly $2 million into the efforts to sway senators on issues ranging from H.R.1 to D.C. statehood to the Voting Rights Act Amendment.

H.R. 1 is the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation and covers many aspects of the voting process, including requiring states to automatically register eligible voters and offer same-day voter registration. The bill also requires states to offer 15 days of early voting and allows no-excuse absentee balloting, which 14 states would have to implement and the states that already allow it would have to conform to H.R. 1’s standards. 

As part of the efforts, the Sixteen Thirty Fund has spent $1.3 million on internal lobbyists to push the reforms while dishing out $480,000 to outside firm Keefe Singiser Partners between 2019 and 2020, according to disclosures.

Maura Keefe, the former chief of staff for Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, heads up the shop. Over the past year, the Sixteen Thirty Fund also paid $100,000 to Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid to advocate on democracy reform and election integrity, including H.R.1.

One of the lobbyists listed on the disclosure forms for Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid is MJ Kenny, who worked for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., between 2010 and 2019 in multiple roles, including legislative correspondent and deputy floor director, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

The New York Times revealed that Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who in 2014 said he is not a U.S. citizen, is a significant financial backer of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which does not identify its donors. From 2016 to 2020, the foreign national directed $135 million into the fund, but it is unclear how his money was spent.

While the Sixteen Thirty Fund is primarily used to house nonprofits that are backed by secretive donors, the incubator was also used as an avenue to steer $55 million in anonymous cash into super PACs that backed President Biden’s 2020 campaign.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund is part of a massive dark money network managed by D.C.-based consulting firm Arabella Advisors, which was founded by Eric Kesser, a former Bill Clinton appointee and member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

In 2019, Arabella was paid nearly $34 million for administrative, operations and management services to manage the four funds in Arabella’s vast dark money network. In addition to Sixteen Thirty, Arabella manages the New Venture Fund, Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund.

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