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Dark Money Group Backed By Foreign Billionaire Has Dumped $100 Million Into State Ballot Initiatives

The Wyss-backed Sixteen Thirty Fund has funneled nearly $34 million into Michigan since 2017 to, in part, ‘rewrite the state’s election laws.’


A Swiss billionaire whose personal goal is to “(re)interpret the American Constitution in the light of progressive politics” has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to a left-wing group that is dumping millions into state ballot initiatives, a new report from Americans for Public Trust (APT) revealed.

Hansjörg Wyss, through his Berger Action Fund, has donated $243 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which “uses its war chest … to support massive get-out-the-vote drives, issue advocacy campaigns bolstering President Biden’s agenda, liberal pet projects from abortion to immigration, and attack ads against Republican lawmakers,” according to APT.

The group also pours resources into state ballot initiatives — to the tune of $97,593,151 over the past decade, according to the report. The cash infusions are “often concentrated in battleground presidential states such as Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio or states with competitive U.S. Senate races like Colorado, Missouri, and Nevada.” The lion’s share of that funding has gone to Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Nevada, but the Sixteen Thirty Fund also targets ballot initiatives in solid red states like Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund has dumped nearly $34 million into Michigan — a state former President Donald Trump won in 2016 — since 2017 to, in part, “rewrite the state’s election laws,” according to the report. In Nevada, the group “was the number one donor to a ballot issue that implemented automatic voter registration” in 2018.

[READ NEXT: Mollie Hemingway Breaks Down Everything Wrong With U.S. Elections From Mail-In Ballots To Zuckbucks To Censorship]

The Sixteen Thirty Fund, as The Federalist’s Mark Hemingway pointed out in a RealClearInvestigations article, is part of the Arabella Advisors network, which has been described by The Atlantic as the “Massive Progressive Dark-Money Group You’ve Never Heard Of.”

Wyss has also donated to the “Center for American Progress and Priorities USA, as well as organizations that ran voter registration and mobilization campaigns to increase Democratic turnout, built media outlets accused of slanting the news to favor Democrats and sought to block Mr. Trump’s nominees, prove he colluded with Russia and push for his impeachment,” the New York Times reported.

It’s unsurprising that Wyss’s beneficiaries push Democrat voter turnout, since part of Wyss’s long game is expanding the left’s voter base. In 2015, the Wyss Foundation “put forth a plan to ‘fundamentally change the composition of the [American] electorate’ in a way that another leaked memo indicated would help ‘achieve the foundation’s policy goals,'” as Logan Washburn explained in these pages.

On Wednesday, Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty introduced the Prevent Foreign Interference in American Elections Act, which seeks to stop foreign nationals like Wyss from funding ballot initiatives as well as “ballot harvesting, get-out-the-vote activity, public communications that promote a political party, or ‘Zuckerbucks’-type election administration activity.” The legislation would also prohibit foreign nationals from funding election activity indirectly by funneling contributions through intermediary organizations like the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

“After years of hysteria over Russiagate and alleged foreign influence in American elections, it turns out Democrats have recently benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars in election-related contributions from a shadowy foreign billionaire, sidestepping the federal ban on foreign-national contributions in U.S. elections,” Hagerty said in a statement. “This type of influence undermines democracy and self-government here in America, and its staggering scope should be alarming.”

Hagerty’s proposal follows an investigation House Republicans began last year into “whether entities that qualify as tax-exempt under Section 501 of the U.S. Code are abiding by the statutory and regulatory prohibitions against … foreign sources of funding … being funneled through such organizations to influence America’s elections.”

Unfortunately, “the opaque nature of 501(c)4 independent political expenditure groups makes it impossible to tell whose donations are spent on what,” Hemingway explained.

“With Arabella, donors’ money is extremely fungible,” Hemingway wrote. “Because it is routed through two or three organizations before it gets spent, it is difficult to determine how donations from foreigners such as Wyss are disbursed.”

A few years ago, APT filed a complaint with the FEC over Arabella Advisors and Wyss, Hemingway reported. APT urged the FEC to investigate the flow of money through Arabella Advisors and other super PACs to ensure foreign nationals are not exploiting the loophole in current laws. The complaint was dismissed after the FEC deadlocked 3-3.

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