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Illinois Policy Institute’s lobbying arm got $2.5 million last year from group that bankrolled Merrick Garland fight

Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017

* McClatchy

When a small nonprofit called the Judicial Crisis Network poured millions into a campaign to stop the Senate from confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick last year, and then spent millions more supporting President Donald Trump’s choice for the same seat, political observers assumed conservatives from around the country were showering the group with donations.

Not so.

Newly obtained tax documents show that JCN’s money came almost entirely from yet another secretive nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which flooded JCN with nearly $23.5 million in 2016.

Most of Wellspring’s funds, in turn, came from a single mysterious donor who gave the organization almost $28.5 million — nearly 90 percent of its $32.2 million in revenues.

Like JCN, Wellspring — at one time tied to the donor network spearheaded by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch — is a nonprofit that is supposed to be dedicated to social welfare functions and doesn’t have to disclose the names of its benefactors. Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision loosened certain constraints on political spending, these and other 501(c)(4) groups have become increasingly politically active while providing anonymity to their donors. Often one group, like Wellspring, will act as a conduit, giving most of its funds to other, similar groups with political agendas.

“It sounds like Wellspring Committee acted as a dark money conduit to provide an extra layer of secrecy to whomever was bankrolling the Judicial Crisis Network ads,” Brendan Fischer of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington said in an email interview. “This has the effect of layering secrecy on top of secrecy, and almost entirely insulating donors from any form of public accountability.” […]

Illinois Policy Action was another organization that benefited from Wellspring’s grants in 2016, receiving $2.5 million; it’s the lobbying arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative Chicago think tank in Chicago that has ties to the state’s billionaire governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, according to the Chicago Tribune. In 2016, the institute released a documentary critical of Rauner’s political opponent, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, a Democrat.

The group is listed on page 18.

…Adding… Keep Garland out, put Gorsuch in while funding a group pushing the Janus case? Food for thought…



- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - S.S. Anon - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:27 pm:

    IPI, nonpartisan as always


  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    That whole thing is going to be marked as a low point in judicial and senatorial history, but the ends justify the means, I guess


  3. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    Wait, IPI has a lobbying arm? I’m starting to question their bona fides as an independent, non-partisan goo-goo think tank.

    Uiehlein and Griff would be the possible big sugar daddies from Illinois.


  4. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:30 pm:

    There was no fight. The party in power simply followed the “Biden Rule”, when Joe was chairman in the US Senate Judiciary Committee.


  5. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    If I did something as diabolical as thwarting a potential Supreme Court judge’s hearing, I wouldn’t want people to know who I was either.


  6. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    Curious though — what money had to be spent to “stop” Garland?

    Sol they needed was McConnell.


  7. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    And then IPI stooges use the cash to:
    1. buy a documentary
    2. bnakrool Proft newspapers
    3. help the Ives campaign

    So many questions. BTW check out Gateway Journalism review on IPI fake news


  8. - Linus - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    == Sol they needed was McConnell. ==

    Too true, word. But as the adage goes, “When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” As is treated as such!


  9. - Baloneymous - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    Wellspring. Nice that name was also used in season one of True Detective. They were a secretive bad bunch too.


  10. - Robert the 1st - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 2:32 pm:

    I remembering thinking the Supreme Court fight was a total waste because Hillary Clinton would be the next President. Guess their bet really paid off with this.


  11. - walker - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 2:54 pm:

    “dank money”


  12. - Albany Park Patriot - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    One hand washes the other.


  13. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 3:41 pm:

    Oh, VM. There was no Biden rule. Name one supreme court vacancy that that Biden held open bwcause it was a presidential year.

    I’ll wait.

    Really, I’ll wait.

    It never happened. It was just a lesson not to talk flippantly with reporters about hypptheticals.


  14. - Molly Maguire - Tuesday, Nov 21, 17 @ 4:37 pm:

    A low point to be sure. Big money, self interest, secrecy. We are going down a dark road. This will hurt all of us, not just one “team” or the other.


  15. - Joe - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    I have a prediction


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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