A Washington Free Beacon article investigates secretive, leftist nonprofits opposing Elon Musk’s Twitter bid. Who are these people?
“I wonder who funds them?”
So tweeted Elon Musk yesterday. Musk’s mini missives have great resonance on the social platform that he may soon own outright. His question was actually a retweet of a tweet by Washington Free Beacon reporter Alana Goodman, promoting her new article with an attention-grabbing headline promising info on the “them” of Musk’s inquiry: “The Shape-Shifting DC Dark Money Group Disguising Liberal Campaigns Across the Country.”
Prompted the interest of the world’s richest man was the article’s opening sentence:
In May, a group called Accountable Tech, which calls itself a “small nonprofit taking on Big Tech companies,” organized a corporate boycott to protest Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter.
Well, who or what is “Accountable Tech”?
And while we’re at it, who or what is “Opportunity Wisconsin”? (Per Goodman: It “bills itself as a ‘coalition of Wisconsin residents,’ ran a deluge of TV ads slamming Republican senator Ron Johnson for his tax policies.”)
And again: who or what is “Just Democracy”? (To start, it’s an Arizona “grassroots racial justice” outfit dedicated to “blasting Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema for failing to support the Biden administration's legislative agenda.”)
This trio—Accountable Tech, Opportunity Wisconsin, and Just Democracy (and there are many more like them operating in the fog and murk of the Beltway’s alleyways)—is, well, nothing. That’s the word Goodman uses: nothing.
Call and no one will answer. Knock and none shall respond. Why? Because, it turns out, there is often no door to knock on, no phone to ring. For example, the Musk-badgering Accountable Tech is a ghost—sans address, phone, email, receptionist, letterhead, HR department, fingerprints. But this phantom is nevertheless quite legal, and not without consequence, as are its ideological nonprofit siblings: Accountable Tech, et al., are “registered trade names for the North Fund, a shape-shifting nonprofit group that uses aliases to push an array of left-wing causes from a shell office in Washington, D.C., according to corporate records.”
We have arrived at a time and point where the tax code meets Terminator 2 meets Saul Alinksy: The North Fund is one of the emerging “shape-shifting” nonprofits that rake in gross amounts of money from ultra-wealthy elites for the purpose of underwriting bald political engagement, with schemes concocted by hardball campaign activists, from a decidedly leftist perspective.
If you thought that was a 501(c)3 faux pas . . . well, as practiced in America today, you might be a bit on the naïve side. No, this is not your father’s nonprofit. North Fund, writes Goodman, “is part of a new breed—moving away from specific policy advocacy and delving into electoral politics.”
Delving was never so bankrolled. Which brings us back to Elon’s inquiry: Who funds them?
The North Fund received $66 million in 2020, according to its public tax disclosures, nearly all of it from large contributors. Over 93 percent came from donors giving over $1 million.
As Goodman documents, much of that $66 million came from the murky (and leftist) Sixteen Thirty Fund ($19.3 million) and the New Venture Fund ($11 million)—neither of which need to reveal their donors. Trying to directly acquire whatever legal and public scraps of information might be available—as Goodman did, showing up in person at Washington addresses allegedly housing these nonprofit/political hybrids—would reveal more nothingness:
When the Free Beacon stopped by the listed D.C. address for the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund—the North Fund's primary donors—their cavernous, full-floor office suite was deserted.
But the bank accounts are not. As Hayden Ludwig recently reported for Capital Research Center, the “dark money” outfits that now orchestrate broad multi-front political efforts—most infamous among them Arabella Associates and the Tides Foundation, beneficiaries of the largesse of many a famous philanthropic name, including the juggernaut Ford Foundation—are bloated with cash. Leftist networks in 2020 hauled over $3.7 billion in nonprofit lucre, to underwrite blatant partisan efforts.
The Goodman piece about the Musk antagonizers is an excellent snapshot in the realities of modern politics and the changing uses—seemingly illegal and triggering no formal oversight—of philanthropic involvement.
Elon Musk is right to wonder “who funds them.” Of greater concern though is the next logical question: what will these “them” do with these funds.
Maybe something profound will come from an extension of Muskean curiosity.