Thom Tillis: It Is ‘Dishonest’ to Deny Leftist ‘Dark Money’ Influence over SCOTUS Nominees

US Republican Senator Thom Tillis shows a chart as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies o
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Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) took aim at his colleague Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on Wednesday during a Supreme Court confirmation hearing after Whitehouse downplayed the role Democrat-aligned “dark money” groups have in influencing Supreme Court nominees.

Tillis used a chart, which he described as the “Whitehouse format,” to present a “balanced understanding” of such groups after Whitehouse used ten minutes of his time during Tuesday’s hearing to discuss “right-wing dark money” groups with a presentation of charts.

“I’ve decided to use the Whitehouse format for dark money so that we have a balanced understanding of the fact that our proceedings here, the aspirations for the court … there is an ecosystem out there on both sides,” Tillis said.

Dark money refers to political funding that cannot be traced back to specific donors.

Dark money organizations predominately include 501(c) groups, which, as Open Secrets details, are not required to disclose their donors’ names or other sources of money. Some 501(c) groups can therefore donate to political candidates or causes without the public knowing who is behind the funding of the groups.

Tillis’s chart displayed various groups that could all be traced back to Arabella Advisors, a heavily funded Democrat-aligned consulting group that manages an array of dark money groups that pursue various left-wing agenda items.

The key with Arabella is that it is actually set up as an LLC (a limited liability company), which is one of the standard corporate forms that a for-profit business can take. And it is privately owned. As a private LLC, it is entirely outside the disclosure laws that govern nonprofits and political advocacy groups. Billionaires can flood unlimited money into Arabella as one would with investment dollars, and Arabella can then pour vast sums into various funds that in turn pass that money out to a host of left-wing groups. Yet the public would never be able to find out who was actually funding Arabella’s gigantic war chest.

Arabella ultimately raked in a net $45.6 million in 2020 from managing four groups, including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which funneled $260 million into boosting Democrat candidates and causes during the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets.

Demand Justice, a dark money spawn of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, has pursued Supreme Court-related causes such as expanding the high court’s bench, hampering now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and, per an Axios report, pressuring retiring Justice Stephen Breyer to step down to be replaced by a black woman. The same report noted that Demand Justice was separating from the Sixteen Thirty Fund in 2021.

Tillis detailed some of his findings from Demand Justice’s website during the hearing Wednesday:

They have a specific plan. Step one: Four seats on the Supreme Court. We must add four seats on the Supreme Court to restore balance, which, by their opinion, is a majority with their view and their judicial philosophy. They’re thrilled that President Biden has promised to appoint a commission. In fact, they’re so thrilled that they want to make sure that they can influence the outside of the commission by endorsing their four-seat strategy. They want to recruit 25,000 volunteers. This is on their website, their strategy, to influence the commission’s recommendation, and then they want to nuke the filibuster, 51 votes to make a decision that could ultimately be to pack the courts. This is their stated goal. They’re proud of it.

Tillis pointed to Whitehouse’s remarks from Tuesday in which Whitehouse suggested Democrat-aligned dark money groups’ influence over the Supreme Court paled in comparison to Republican-aligned dark money groups’ influence. Whitehouse said Tuesday, “There is a difference, I believe, between a dark money interest rooting for someone and right-wing dark money interests having a role in actually picking the last three Supreme Court justices.”

Tillis called that notion “intellectually dishonest” based on his research of Demand Justice’s activism.

“I think it’s intellectually dishonest to say that the [Biden] administration, that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, are not influenced by this organization,” Tillis said. “We’ve tracked some of the fundraising and support of elections. They’re engaged, and they’re influenced by it.”

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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