D.C. AG probing Trump mega-donor’s 'multi-billion-dollar network of nonprofits': report
A former United States Department of Justice trial attorney under ex-President Bill Clinton is probing Republican billionaire and ex-President Donald Trump donor Leonard Leo along with "his network of nonprofit groups," POLITICO exclusively reports.
Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb's investigation comes after the GOP billionaire and Federalist Society leader's trust fund, Marble Freedom Trust's latest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filing revealed in June Leo's mission to control right-wing politics, according to a Truthout report.
Truthout notes the IRS filing obtained by progressive watchdog Accountable.US "shows the Federalist Society leader 'has dumped at least $411 million into fueling right-wing infrastructure in the U.S. since mid-2020.'"
According to POLITICO, the probe also "comes after POLITICO reported in March that one of Leo's nonprofits — registered as a charity — paid his for-profit company tens of millions of dollars in the two years since he joined the company.'
The news outlet notes that "a few weeks later, a progressive watchdog group filed a complaint with the D.C. attorney general and the IRS requesting a probe into what services were provided and whether Leo was in violation of laws against using charities for personal enrichment."
Best known as Donald Trump's White House 'court whisperer,' Leo played a behind-the-scenes role in the nominations of all three of the former president's Supreme Court justices and promoted them through his multi-billion-dollar network of nonprofits. Trump chose his three Supreme Court picks, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, from a list drawn up by Leo. More recently, Leo was the beneficiary of a $1.6 billion contribution, believed to be the biggest political donation in U.S. history.
"There are questions as to whether Leo-affiliated nonprofits have diverted substantial portions of their income and assets, directly or indirectly, to the personal benefit of Leonard Leo," the Campaign for Accountability's complaint said. "Such payments were generally listed as made in exchange for alleged consulting, research, public relations, or similar services. However CFA has reasonable questions about whether those alleged services were actually rendered at all or, if services were rendered, whether the payments made were substantially in excess of fair market value."
Per the report, "The news of the investigation comes as the nonprofit that was a subject of the complaint quietly relocated in recent weeks from the capital area to Texas, according to paperwork filed in Virginia and Texas," after "for nearly 20 years the nonprofit, now known as The 85 Fund, had been incorporated in Virginia."
The news outlet notes:
The Leo-aligned nonprofit The 85 Fund — which is registered as a tax-exempt charity — paid tens of millions of dollars to a public relations firm in Virginia which he co-chairs in the two years since he joined the firm, known as CRC Advisors.The watchdog complaint alleges the total amount of money that flowed from Leo-aligned nonprofits to his for-profit firms was $73 million over six years beginning in 2016.
According to POLITICO, attorney David B. Rivkin Jr., who represents the parties in the probe, "said in a statement that the complaint 'is sloppy, deceptive and legally flawed and we are addressing this fully with the DC Attorney General's office.'"
Politico's full report is available at this link.