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Dark money network gives top Dem lawyer ‘nearly unlimited funding’ for voting rights lawsuits, watchdog says

A top Democratic lawyer uses a massive dark money network to push voting rights and redistricting lawsuits across the country, a setup that a government watchdog said would provide “nearly unlimited funding.”

Marc Elias, who has become one of the most influential liberal attorneys in Washington, recently departed the Perkins Coie law firm to start the Elias Law Group. Elias’ firm will focus on electing Democrats, supporting voter rights and “help progressives make change,” according to a Perkins Coie press release

But before departing the heavyweight firm used by an extensive list of powerful Democratic politicians, Elias positioned himself with several groups tied to a dark money juggernaut that would help in efforts to push back against the likes of voter identification and redistricting lawsuits across America.

Elias in July 2020 registered Democracy Docket LLC, a site dedicated to acting as a hub for opinion, advocacy and information on voting rights, elections and redistricting, Virginia business records show.

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As part of the efforts, the Democracy Docket Legal Fund, led by Elias, was created. The legal fund is a fiscally sponsored project of the Hopewell Fund, a nonprofit managed by Washington consulting firm Arabella Advisors.

Arabella-managed funds act as a conduit for deep-pocketed liberal donors to stealthily bankroll numerous left-wing groups. It manages three separate funds in addition to Hopewell: the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the New Venture Fund and the Windward Fund. 

Attorney Marc Elias preps with attorneys Roopali Desai (far left), Sarah Gonski (left) and Amanda Callais on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, before the hearing for his lawsuit against Arizona over voting rights. Elias was the general counsel for the Hillary Clinton campaign. (Photo by David Jolkovski for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Attorney Marc Elias preps with attorneys Roopali Desai (far left), Sarah Gonski (left) and Amanda Callais on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, before the hearing for his lawsuit against Arizona over voting rights. Elias was the general counsel for the Hillary Clinton campaign. (Photo by David Jolkovski for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Wealthy Democratic donors use these funds to pour cash into dozens of initiatives that fall under Arabella’s umbrella. 

According to the network’s most recent tax forms, the four funds combined to haul in $715 million in cash from secret donors in 2019 alone. The group also pushes money to outside organizations that do not fall under its auspices. 

In addition to Democracy Docket LLC, Elias created the Democracy Docket Action Fund to raise money for voting rights lawsuits, The New York Times reported last year. According to an ActBlue donation page, the action fund is a project of the North Fund, which also boasts connections to Arabella Advisors. 

The North Fund reported $9.3 million in donations in 2019, according to its tax forms. Its sole donor was the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Arabella-managed-group’s tax forms show.

Saurabh Gupta, who is listed in North Fund’s tax forms as general counsel, is also general counsel for Arabella Advisors, according to the consulting firm’s website

“Marc Elias just launched his new firm, but what has not been reported is the funding source for his lawsuits,” Americans for Public Trust Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News. “Mr. Elias frequently raises money for the Democracy Docket Action Fund, but what he isn’t telling his loyal followers is the fund is a project of the Arabella-connected North Fund.”

Sutherland said the North Fund is “shadowy,” even by D.C. standards. 

“And his other group, Democracy Docket Legal Fund, is just a project of the Arabella-managed Hopewell Fund,” Sutherland told Fox News. “All of this together means that as Arabella Advisors’ dark money attorney, Mr. Elias will have access to nearly unlimited funding to file lawsuits across the country.” 

Because the Democracy Docket legal and action funds are fiscally sponsored by other nonprofits, they are not required to file individual tax forms to the IRS that would shed light on their financials. 

And while funding to the Elias connected groups will remain obscured due to this setup, some foundations and companies have publicly stated their financial support.

The MacArthur Foundation said in September 2020 that it would push $800,000 to the Democracy Docket Legal Fund as part of a $25 million grant spree to combat “anti-Black racism, support Native Americans impacted by COVID-19, strengthen voter education and mobilization, and combat voter suppression.” 

The Democracy Fund, the private foundation of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, gave $1.5 million to the Democracy Docket Legal Fund in 2020, its grant database shows.

"Star Wars" director J.J. Abrams.

“Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams.
(Getty Images)

And in April, Bad Robot, a production company owned by Hollywood film director J.J. Abrams, announced it was pitching in $1 million to the Democracy Docket Legal Fund to “help fight voter suppression in the courts.”

“From Arizona to Georgia, Democracy Docket is closely tracking over 350 pieces of disenfranchising legislation in 47 states,” Bad Robot tweeted. “These bills are targeted at Black, brown and young voters and are direct assaults on our democracy.” 

Elias did not respond to a request for comment.

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The high-powered attorney spearheaded similar efforts bankrolled by influential liberal donors in the past. 

As Elias acted as Hillary Clinton’s top campaign lawyer during the 2016 election, he pushed a multi-state challenge against voter identification laws. Liberal billionaire George Soros funded the efforts. 

Following the 2016 election, Priorities USA, one of the nation’s largest super PACs, tapped Elias as it shifted its focus to voting laws. Soros provided $9.5 million to the PAC during that election cycle, making him one of its most generous donors. Elias led the efforts from its connected nonprofit arm. 

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