DC Officials Are Probing Leonard Leo and His Dark Money Network

Washington, D.C. officers have opened an investigation into conservative kingpin and darkish cash maestro Leonard Leo, who was lately launched into the highlight over his huge affect on U.S. politics, particularly with regard to current scandals surrounding Supreme Courtroom justices.

Based on Politico, an individual with direct information of the investigation stated that D.C. Lawyer Basic Brian Schwalb is probing Leo and his sprawling community of right-wing darkish cash teams.

The precise focus of the investigation is unclear, however Politico identified that it comes after the publication reported in March that Leo’s private wealth appears to have skyrocketed after one in every of his nonprofits paid tens of tens of millions of {dollars} to a for-profit firm headed by Leo, known as CRC Advisors, over the course of two years. Specialists stated that the revelations had been questionable, elevating considerations that Leo used cash raised by his nonprofits to personally enrich himself.

The report was shortly followed by a complaint by Marketing campaign for Accountability filed with the Inside Income Service (IRS) and the D.C. legal professional basic. The watchdog group detailed that Leo’s non-profit teams had diverted over $73 million over six years to Leo’s for-profit companies — transactions that the group stated warranted additional investigation by authorities officers for potential abuse of the nonprofits’ tax-exempt standing for private achieve.

Advocates have praised the launch of the investigation, saying that it’s essential to scrutinize Leo so as to expose his colossal affect over the political system — and to lend insights into the impacts of darkish cash and corruption that Leo has helped stoke.

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Leo “believes that until he writes the principles, they don’t apply to him. Whereas his handpicked justices are stripping People of their rights and openly violating ethics guidelines, Leo is cashing in on his activism,” stated Lizzy Value, senior director of strategic partnerships for watchdog group Accountable.US, in a press name this week. “Whether or not it’s the American judiciary or his personal community of conservative organizations, Leo’s disdain for ethics is fixed.”

Across the time these transactions ramped up — and as Leo started working carefully with conservative politicians to govern the judicial system previously decade — Leo’s private wealth started to balloon. In 2018, Leo paid off a 30-year mortgage on his home in Mclean, Virginia; later that 12 months, he purchased an 11-bedroom home in an prosperous city in Maine for $3.3 million, which he totally paid off the subsequent 12 months. Then, in 2021, he purchased a second home in the identical city, Mount Desert, for $1.65 million.

Mount Desert is a wealthy seaside village that serves as a “haven for quite a lot of heirs to Gilded Age oil, industrial and banking barons just like the Rockefellers and Morgans,” Politico detailed in its March report.

In the identical few years, Leo-affiliated nonprofits funneled practically $35 million in consulting charges to CRC Advisors and $15 million in consulting charges to BH Group, a for-profit enterprise partly owned by Leo that doesn’t also have a web site or ads for its supposed consulting companies.

As Leo was massively increasing his actual property portfolio, the Trump administration nominated three far proper Supreme Courtroom justices who had been hand-picked by Leo, after Leo and his darkish cash network helped to block President Barack Obama’s Supreme Courtroom nomination of Merrick Garland.

The information of the probe additionally comes after Leo was named as a significant determine in a number of scandals surrounding the Supreme Courtroom, with studies revealing that he had organized funds to Justice Clarence Thomas’s spouse, Ginni Thomas, previous to a key voting rights Supreme Courtroom case, and that he appears to have close personal ties with Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito.

Although Leo has confronted scrutiny from advocates and the media, he has to date largely escaped authorized scrutiny. Final month, the Senate Judiciary Committee requested that Leo ship a full accounting of items he had given to Supreme Courtroom justices. However Leo was recalcitrant within the face of the request, responding by way of his lawyer that it was unconstitutional for Congress to ask Leo about his affect over the Supreme Courtroom.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), who has been criticizing Leo for years, stated that the D.C. probe might uncover a variety of improprieties. “Digging into this mess might reveal a mom lode of corruption,” Whitehouse wrote.

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