In November 2019, a new group called Accountable.Us launched to, in its words, “identify who is influencing public policy debates” and “follow the money.” Yet it is conspicuously secret about who exactly is funding its own efforts to influence public policy debates.
It turns out Accountable.Us is merely a new iteration of a dark money web based in Washington, D.C. that is funded by a range of liberal special interests under the New Venture Fund (NVF) umbrella. NVF’s leadership and staff have a multitude of ties to liberal politicians and causes.
According to its website, Accountable.Us is a conglomeration of three existing dark money campaigns: Allied Progress, Restore Public Trust, and the Western Values Project.
All three of these campaigns are projects of the New Venture Fund, a $394 million dark money hub that has launched hundreds of similar projects. Accountable.Us simply appears to be a new layer—but it is still a project of the New Venture Fund.
How does it all work?
The New Venture Fund is set up as a 501(c)(3) organization that is operated by a for-profit firm called Arabella Advisors. NVF has launched hundreds of campaigns by essentially loaning its (c)(3) status in a process called fiscal sponsorship. Donors give to NVF, and it’s unclear to the public which campaigns their money is going towards—if you can even figure out who NVF’s donors are.
Funders of NVF include George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society and the Hewlett Foundation, a major funder of radical environmentalists—which is only known because those organizations have to declare the grants on their own tax returns due to their foundation status.
Meanwhile, each “project” of NVF does not have to file a tax return because it is an internal campaign of NVF, not a separate nonprofit—adding another layer of obscurity as to how many people are actually employed by these projects and what their activities are.
Such a system also gives the veneer of credibility and weight to pop-up groups that may have little substance behind them. Consider two of the projects of Accountable.Us:
- Allied Progress was essentially a one-man band run by liberal activist Karl Frisch to attack the financial industry.
- The Western Values Project, a group supposedly based in Montana (out of a P.O. Box), was recently seeking a researcher based in Washington, D.C. (presumably based out of NVF’s offices). See our report at GreenDecoys.com for more information on the dark money campaigns run by WVP.
A recent investigation by the Capital Research Center shines a light on this spider web of dark money and identifies over 300 groups launched by NVF and related entities. NVF’s sister group is the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4). Two other nonprofits, the Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund, are share office space with the NVF mothership.
NVF raised over $394 million in 2018. With 2020 around the corner, how many new front groups will NVF produce?