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Pro-Daniel Cameron PAC has received millions from right-wing dark money group

The Concord Fund, which has ties to Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo, has given more than $2 million to a PAC supporting the Kentucky attorney general’s gubernatorial campaign.

By Matt Cohen - May 12, 2023
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Kentucky Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron speaks at the Southern Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday, April 14, 2023, at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky.
Kentucky Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron speaks at the Southern Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday, April 14, 2023, at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. (Grace Ramey/Daily News via AP)

A political action committee supporting Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s Republican attorney general who is running to be the state’s next governor, received millions of dollars from a right-wing dark money group with ties to Leonard Leo, a major power broker in conservative politics.

According to campaign finance documents, Bluegrass Freedom Action, a new PAC that registered with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance in March 2023 to support Cameron, has raised more than $2.7 million thus far. Campaign finance records reveal that a bulk of the money the group has raised — more than $2.2 million— has come from a single source: a nonprofit group called The Concord Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for and supports conservative policies and legislation and limited government.

The Concord Fund is closely tied to Leo, the former vice president and current co-chair of the board of directors of conservative legal think tank the Federalist Society. In his role as vice president of the group, Leo was a “confidant” of former President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post, and allegedly advised him on his Supreme Court and other judicial nominees. Leo curated a list of potential nominees — all of whom were conservative justices with ties to the Federalist Society — for Trump for whenever a vacancy opened on the Supreme Court, according to NPR, that was part of a plan to change its partisan makeup.

In September 2020, just days before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, Trump released a list of 20 potential Supreme Court nominees. Among the names on the list was Cameron’s, according to the Associated Press.

Though his name is nowhere to be found in the group’s tax filings, Leo is associated with the Concord Fund through several for-profit groups of which he is a full or partial owner, according to the New York Times. Two of those groups, CRC Advisors and the BH Group, have been paid tens of millions of dollars in consulting fees by the Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network, since 2016. The Concord Fund is run by Carrie Severino, who is a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and whom the Daily Beast described in 2018 as Leo’s protégé.

Through his ties to the Concord Fund, Leo has had a major influence on shaping courts at the state level. As the American Independent Foundation recently reported, the Concord Fund and other organizations with which Leo is connected have spent more than $30 million since 2010 on state-level judicial elections across the country.

More recently, Leo has been involved in the unfolding conflict-of-interest scandals involving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni Thomas. In January 2012, Leo arranged to have the Polling Company, a firm formerly led by former Trump senior adviser Kellyane Conway, bill the Judicial Education Project, a nonprofit that Leo advises, and give that money to Ginni Thomas for consulting work, according to the Washington Post. Thomas was paid $25,000 from the Judicial Education Project the same year that the group filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, a landmark case in which the court in its ruling gutted key portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the past, Leo defended the practice of using dark money to fuel elections and political causes. “Let’s remember that in this country, the abolitionist movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the American Revolution, the early labor movement, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s were all very much fueled by very wealthy people and oftentimes wealthy people who chose to be anonymous,” he told the Washington Post for a 2019 documentary. “I think that’s not a bad thing. I think that’s a good thing.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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