Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.
Democrats and their progressive allies are vastly expanding their unprecedented efforts, begun in 2020, to use private money to influence and run public elections.
Supported by groups with more than $1 billion at their disposal, according to public records, these partisan groups are working with state and local boards to influence functions that have long been the domain of government or political parties.
Registering and turning out voters - once handled primarily by political parties – and design of election office websites and mail-in ballots are being handed over to those same nonprofits, which are staffed by progressive activists that include former Democratic Party advocates, organized labor adherents and community organizers.
Republicans have opposed such efforts, passing legislation in 24 states since 2020 curbing the private financing of elections. But the GOP does not have a comparable, boots-on-the-ground effort to influence election boards and workers, and the private-funding bans haven’t proved absolute in some states.
Many of the progressive groups seeking to influence elections are connected to Arabella Advisors, a Washington-based, for-profit consulting company founded and led by Eric Kessler, a White House appointee during the Clinton administration.Arabella’s projects, which include the New Venture Fund, the Hopewell Fund, the Sixteen Thirty Fund and Secure Democracy USA, had combined revenues of $1.3 billion between 2020 and 2021, tax filings show. Nonprofits supported by Arabella in 2020 gave out $529 million to “defend democracy.”
That coincided with the rise of private-public election partnerships as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated an estimated $350 million to the progressive Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL) to support local efforts in the pandemic-challenged 2020 election.