An advocacy nonprofit group behind a campaign demanding Supreme Court “transparency” reforms on financial disclosures is in panic mode over accidentally leaking its own funders to the Washington Examiner.
(Article by Gabe Kaminsky republished from WashingtonExaminer.com)
Fix the Court, a charity that spun off in 2021 after being a project of the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit group managed by the liberal dark money behemoth and for-profit company Arabella Advisors, is part of a seemingly coordinated campaign calling for Supreme Court justices to disclose more about their finances. Now, the organization is in disarray after unwittingly providing the Washington Examiner with unredacted copies of its own donors in 2021 and 2022.
“As you can see if you’ve reviewed the forms, I’m not a good fundraiser,” Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court and a former vice president at the Democratic consulting firm SKDK, told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. “I’m not a good CPA. I’m a klutz. Schedule B is not something that is sent out, right? It’s not made public. Like, if you’re donating to a 501(c)(3), the IRS gets to see who donates to you, but the general public doesn’t.”
“I mean, basically, I’ve tried to donate money; I have failed,” Roth added. “I tried to raise money; I have failed. I have only two foundations that give me money, and if their names become public, they’re never going to talk to me again, and Fix the Court is over. My screwup this morning probably cost me my job.”
The executive director added, “I really just don’t know what to do here” and that he “just f***ed up in a minute” after the group had been operating for almost a decade.
Fix the Court, which lists a Brooklyn, New York, address on federal tax forms obtained by the Washington Examiner, launched in 2014 with a six-figure advertising campaign slamming Supreme Court justices for their “disdain for openness and transparency,” USA Today reported. On the heels of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed, reports surfaced on how Fix the Court owned both BrettKavanaugh.com and BrettKavanaugh.net and used them to link to sexual assault resources.
Most recently, Fix the Court has taken aim at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas following multiple reports on him not formally disclosing certain gifts, particularly from Texas billionaire and real estate mogul Harlan Crow. It obtained Supreme Court security records in connection to a 2016 flight Thomas took on Crow’s jet, according to ProPublica, which detailed other trips as well. Still, the Supreme Court only tightened gift disclosure requirements on March 14, 2023, long after the flights occurred — making it unclear whether the justice could have violated federal law.
On Tuesday, the Washington Examiner contacted Roth to understand why Fix the Court did not initially file a Form 990 in 2021 since the New Venture Fund disclosed on its own 2021 tax forms granting the advocacy group $111,677. Nonprofit groups that disclose pulling in $50,000 or less in a year may file what is called a Form 990-N postcard, which Fix the Court had previously done, according to a Washington Examiner review of the IRS tax-exempt database.
Roth responded on Wednesday, noting he “misunderstood the filing instructions,” and sent the Washington Examiner full copies of Fix the Court’s 2021 and 2022 financial disclosure forms. He also claimed on Wednesday that he mailed the new forms to the IRS.
Following this, Roth emailed over copies of his Schedule B’s for 2021 and 2022, replying one minute later, “S***, I’m not legally allowed to send you those. I really messed up. Can you call me now?” Multiple tax attorneys told the Washington Examiner it is not illegal for nonprofit groups to provide this information to the public.
“There’s certainly nothing illegal,” said Alan Dye, a partner at Webster, Chamberlain, & Bean who has specialized in nonprofit law since 1975. “It’s a mistake. It’s been made before by a lot of organizations. Overdisclosure is not a crime. There’s nothing wrong with overdisclosure. Underdisclosure would be penalized.”
Fix the Court’s website, as of this writing, also now links to its full 990 forms — though does not include its Schedule B copies. It posted over $290,000 in revenue in 2021 and spent more than $142,000, according to financial disclosures. The group’s Schedule B for 2021 shows that it received the roughly $111,000 New Venture Fund grant and also $175,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a major liberal group launched in 1966 by Hewlett-Packard co-founder William R. Hewlett that has donated large sums to Planned Parenthood.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant was for “general support” and was awarded in September 2021, records on the foundation’s website show.
Fix the Court’s 2021 leaders went unchanged in 2022, tax forms show. Its board president was listed as Joshua Cohen, a former employee at the Democratic National Committee and now principal at the left-leaning consulting firm New Heights Communications, vice president as Michelle Kuppersmith, executive director of the liberal watchdog Campaign for Accountability, board secretary and treasurer as Rebecca Rosenfeld, and executive director as Roth — who was paid almost $242,000 combined in 2021 and 2022.
Roth alone earned $162,138 in 2022 from Fix the Court for 40 hours of work per week, a number not far off from the group’s reported $195,512 revenue that year, according to 2022 tax forms. Fix the Court’s other leaders did not pull salaries in 2021 or 2022, records show.
As far as its 2022 funders, the Washington Examiner can reveal that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which has supported climate groups and said in 2015 it had a “moral obligation” to divest from supporting pro-fossil fuel groups, gave $50,000 to Fix the Court, according to tax forms.
The Lebowitz-Aberly Family Foundation, an organization that has bankrolled pro-abortion causes and is affiliated with hedge fund manager Larry Lebowitz and Naomi Aberly, who once chaired the board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, gave $35,000 to Fix the Court, according to tax forms. Tax forms also show that a group based in Pennsylvania called the Weinberg McCann Foundation gave $100,000 to Fix the Court.
Fix the Court’s “panicked reaction” to releasing its donors is evidence that the group “is not serious about transparency,” according to Parker Thayer, an investigative researcher at Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank. Roth further told the Washington Examiner that he “wanted to fix the mistake as soon as possible” since his “donors don’t want their names out there.”
“They have attempted to smear honorable men like Justice Thomas over his own financial disclosures but are apparently terrified at the thought of someone obtaining their own,” Thayer said.
The New Venture Fund’s prior sponsorship of Fix the Court meant it did not have to file tax forms with the IRS before 2021, an arrangement that watchdog groups have decried as a dark money maneuver that is adverse to transparency. The New Venture Fund posted a staggering revenue of almost $963 million in 2021, supporting a variety of left-leaning matters in the areas of climate, education, and the arts, according to tax forms. It is the largest group in the Arabella Advisors network, which also manages the Sixteen Thirty Fund, Windward Fund, Hopewell Fund, and North Fund.
According to Roth, he hasn’t spoken with the New Venture Fund “in years.” Their 2021 grant carried over prior to the fund ending its relationship with Fix the Court in June 2021, Fix the Court said on its 2021 tax forms.
“I was lucky enough to get a grant from them when we started in 2014 and that was renewed up until 2019,” he described. “And then they said they didn’t want to support Fix the Court anymore. I said, ‘Fine, I’ll start my own 501(c)(3) nonprofit.’ That’s what I did.”
The IRS did not return a request for comment.
“I screwed up,” Roth said.
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