Democrat-aligned dark money groups and liberal nonprofits spent millions of dollars on political activity in Michigan during 2022, a midterm election year, newly released tax documents reveal.
A network of nonprofits managed by the for-profit firm Arabella Advisors consisting of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the New Venture Fund, the Windward Fund, the Hopewell Fund and the North Fund, collectively gave $29.6 million to various liberal advocacy groups in Michigan during 2022, including millions to groups involved in the 2022 elections. Conservatives suffered a string of defeats in Michigan during 2022, losing both chambers of the state legislature, a congressional seat, the governor’s race and a pair of high-profile referenda on abortion and election security.
Members of Arabella’s network do not disclose their donors, making the source of the money flowing into Michigan difficult to determine.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund, for instance, listed 139 donations in 2022 ranging from $5,000 to $34.7 million with no indication of where that funding came from. The North Fund, similarly, reported 32 donations from 2022 ranging from $15,000 to $11.5 million, absent identifying information.
“It’s no surprise that coastal elites in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco paid for much of the Michigan Democrats’ political operation in 2022,” a Michigan Republican operative told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“That’s what Democrats do: nationalize elections to ensure they can push their radical agenda down the throats of hard-working Michiganders,” the GOP operative continued. “These are the people who thinks the Great Lakes look like ponds and consider the Great Lakes State a fly-over state. They’re in it for themselves and their mega-wealthy donors—not Michiganders.”
Michigan voters approved a ballot measure in 2022 that legalized abortion up to birth in the state by a margin of 56.7% to 43.3% following expensive advocacy campaigns for and against the measure. The Arabella network funneled $6.9 million into groups that pushed for the pro-abortion measure, including Progress Michigan, Michigan Voices, Michigan Planned Parenthood, Reproductive Freedom for All and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund’s tax forms indicate that it gave $5.7 million to Reproductive Freedom for All, the primary advocacy group supporting the ballot measure. A campaign finance database maintained by the Michigan secretary of state, however, says that the Sixteen Thirty Fund gave the group $6 million.
Michigan approved another ballot measure in 2022 that allowed individuals to vote without presenting valid identification, allowing them to sign an affidavit instead, established nine days of early voting and required that the state provide ballot drop boxes, among other things.
The Hopewell Fund gave $250,000 to the Michigan League of Responsible Voters, a group that advocated on behalf of the amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which also supported the measure, received $200,000 from the North Fund.
The Hopewell Fund and Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed directly to Promote the Vote, the primary advocacy group that supported the ballot measure. Hopewell gave the group $675,000 and Sixteen Thirty gave it $10,400,000.
Not every effort bankrolled by Arabella’s network in Michigan was successful.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund gave $4.3 million to Michiganders for Fair Lending, a group that attempted to get a referendum put on the 2022 ballot regulating payday loans. The campaign failed after an audit from the state found that a significant portion of the signatures collected by the group for their ballot measure were invalid.
Arabella’s network poured millions into miscellaneous liberal advocacy and grantmaking groups in 2022.
The North Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund gave the Michigan Civic Action Fund $650,000 and $675,000, respectively. The Michigan Civic Action Fund “is a left-leaning ‘dark money’ 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that makes large grants in support of left-leaning activism in Michigan,” according to Influence Watch.
Groups supporting progressive causes like Progress Michigan, Michigan United, the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, Michigan Faith in Action, the Count MI Vote Education Fund, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council Education Fund, Prosperity Michigan and the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, among others, received millions from Hopewell, Sixteen Thirty, New Venture, Windward and the North Fund.
Some of the money from Arabella’s network went directly to helping elect Democrats in 2022.
Sixteen Thirty also gave $250,000 to the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee 21st Century Fund and $225,000 to the Michigan People’s Campaign, which engaged in advocacy in 2022 and endorsed Democrats across the state.
Liberal spending in Michigan coincided with historic losses for Republicans.
Republicans lost control of the state Senate and House in 2022, giving Democrats full control for the first time in 38 years, Axios reported. Republicans failed to dethrone Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, losing every statewide election in 2022, according to CNN.
The Arabella network’s 2022 spending in Michigan may be part of a broader effort from Arabella to influence policy in the state. Powered by Michigan, a group running pro-green energy ads in the state, is actually a project of the Arabella-tied Potential Energy Coalition, according to the Capital Research Center.
Powered by Michigan presents itself as a local group, appealing to “we Michiganders.” The organization is actually based in New York City, according to the Capital Research Center.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund, the New Venture Fund, the Windward Fund, the Hopewell Fund and the North Fund did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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