A Washington-based conservative think tank has released a study that untangles the knot of secrecy behind the funding of some pro-abortion groups. The Capital Research Center's "Big Money in Dark Shadows: Arabella Advisors' Half-billion-dollar 'Dark Money' Network" tracks the significant sums of money collected from donors specifically for allocation to leftist causes, including several initiatives aimed at lifting legal barriers to publicly funded abortions.
"The line between philanthropy and political advocacy at Arabella is blurry indeed," reads the report's executive summary, referring to the Arabella's stated mission of "philanthropy and impact investing."
Described by Hayden R. Ludwig, the report's author, as a "left-wing leviathan in Washington, D.C.," the for-profit Arabella Advisors, LLC channeled an estimated $600 million into four nonprofit funds created by Arabella, including the New Venture Fund and "dozens of 'pop-up' groups and 'astroturf' initiatives."
By "pop-up," the report refers to what is estimated are hundreds of "front groups" funded by Arabella and its satellites:
These groups are generally little more than websites created to give the appearance of a full-fledged "grassroots" organization tackling a niche area: protesting President Trump's judicial nominees (including Justice Brett Kavanaugh), pushing environmentalist causes, propping up Obamacare, and attacking the Department of Health and Human Services for revoking Obamacare rules that had compelled religious groups to pay for birth control.
One so-called "pop-up group" in the New Venture Fund network is All Above All, a nonprofit group established in 2017 with the express purpose "to build support for lifting bans that deny abortion coverage. Our vision is to restore public insurance coverage so that every woman, however much she makes, can get affordable, safe abortion care when she needs it."
All Above All targets state and federal laws — such as the 1976 Hyde Amendment — that prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions. According to Ludwig, in 2017, All Above All and
its Sixteen Thirty Fund-sponsored lobbying arm backed the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance ("EACH Woman") bill, which would have "ensur[ed] abortion coverage and care through the federal government" in Medicaid and Medicare, while barring state legislatures from restricting abortion coverage in private health plans. New Venture Fund also sponsors the Women's Equality Center, which forms strategic messaging for abortion campaigns. The Center, in turn, nominally manages Keep Birth Control Copay Free (both are in reality part of New Venture Fund), which lobbies the government to force private health insurers to provide copay-free birth control coverage.
All told, according to the report, Arabella distributed "a staggeringly $1.6 billion in contributions" to smaller groups in only four years between 2013 and 2017. The three other groups named with the New Venture Fund by Ludwig are Sixteen Thirty Fund, Windward Fund and Hopewell Fund. The report also notes the four nonprofits share many of the same officers and members on their respective boards of directors.
Arabella boasts that its donors include the Rockefeller and Kellogg Foundations with total donor assets exceeding $100 billion. The four nonprofit funds listed above paid Arabella management fees totaling $76 million in the 10 years between 2007 and 2017.
"It remains unclear why such large and powerful institutions seek outside philanthropic consulting, but presumably a significant part of Arabella's appeal lies in its ability to obscure large financial transactions," Ludwig states.
The New Venture Fund's donors are generally major private foundations and donor-advised fund providers (whose funds typically originate with individual donors). According to data from FoundationSearch, for instance, New Venture Fund has received grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation totaling $32 million since 2011, $35 million from the Moore Foundation since 2012, $32 million from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation since 2012, nearly $19 million from the Wyss Foundation since 2010, and a staggering $150 million from the Gates Foundation since 2009.