When Hayden Ludwig and a colleague showed up at the Civic Participation Action Fund’s (CPAF) Washington, D.C., office in 2019 seeking copies of the group’s most recent tax returns, they were greeted by an angry Stephen McConnell.
McConnell, then-CPAF’s president, demanded to know who paid his inquisitors’ salaries. Ludwig identified himself as an investigative researcher for the Capital Research Center (CRC), and his colleague as an intern there.
“They’re not used to being in the limelight,” Ludwig laconically told The Epoch Times on Oct. 22.
Indeed, throughout its carefully planned five-year lifespan, CPAF flew under the radar even as it spent millions of dollars from anonymous overseas donors on campaigns to boost Democratic registration and voting in highly-targeted neighborhoods in the 2018 and 2020 campaigns.
The CPAF story illustrates how hundreds of billions of anonymous dollars have been poured into a galaxy of liberal Democratic causes and campaigns in recent years via nominally non-partisan philanthropic foundations and advocacy groups.
“CPAF is best described as a $50 million secretive conduit for moving Atlantic Philanthropy’s foreign ‘dark money’ dollars into U.S. left-wing infrastructure groups doing Get Out The Vote (GOTV) and voter registration campaigns that help Democrats,” Ludwig said.
Atlantic Philanthropy is an offshore complex of closely related foundations based in Bermuda and established by American entrepreneur Chuck Feeney, who made his fortune with the Duty Free Shoppers line of retail stores. Atlantic received $1.6 billion when Feeney sold his interest in the stores in 1997.
Atlantic Philanthropy channeled nearly $50 million to CPAF in 2015 via Atlantic Advocacy Fund, one of its associated groups. McConnell was Atlantic’s U.S. Director before starting CPAF. The group also received funds from other liberal Democratic sources, including $367,000 from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
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