Trump’s judge picker Leonard Leo may have violated The Federalist Society’s tax status to obtain a $1.6 billion donation.
Leonard Leo, who helped to choose judicial nominees for former President Donald Trump, obtained a historic $1.6 billion gift for his conservative legal network via an introduction through the Federalist Society, whose tax status forbids political activism.
Leo first met Barre Seid, the now 91-year-old manufacturing magnate turned donor, through an introduction arranged by Eugene Meyer, the longtime director of the Federalist Society. At the time, Leo was the society’s executive vice president, and he is currently its co-chair. Meyer envisioned Seid as a contributor to the society, according to a person familiar with the introduction. Instead, Leo cultivated Seid as a funder of his own dark money network. The result was a $1.6 billion gift announced last year — which is believed to be the largest political donation ever.
The Federalist Society is forbidden from engaging in partisan political activity, but it appears Leo is using the society as a backdoor to raise huge sums of money from conservative donors for partisan politics.
The corrupt arrangement has caught the attention of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):
Worth keeping this nefarious tangle in mind as we consider the Supreme Court’s ethics mess today in @JudiciaryDems hearing.
Remember the portrait of Leo, Clarence Thomas and the right-wing billionaire.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) May 2, 2023
Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans constantly talk about the swamp. The real swamp is full of dark money from conservative billionaires who have bought their way into and corrupted the court system. The courts are essential to democracy, but what people like Leonard Leo are doing is destroying democracy with conservative billionaire cash.
Clarence Thomas is the symptom, not the disease, and it is long past time for the non-corrupted elements of the government to step in and save the courts from an inside attack coming from the right.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association