Dark Money Machine Quietly Adds Another Mystery Group to Its Ranks

The Civic Involvement Fund does nothing besides funnel money to leftist woke groups in election years

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(Peter Dazeley/Grabien)

It has no website, no employees, and its books are in the care of a powerful green consulting firm with close ties to the White House. It has also flooded Democratic groups with more than $35 million in untraceable cash since 2020, all while evading public detection—until now.

The Civic Involvement Fund has operated from the shadows from an apartment unit in Brooklyn since launching in 2019. That’s thanks in part to a novel spending strategy that sets the group apart from most other spokes in the Democratic Party’s ever-growing dark money network. During off-election years, the 501(c)(4) group does nothing but rake in huge sums of cash from one or two anonymous donors. Those funds collect dust until election years, when the Civic Involvement Fund dumps its entire bankroll into groups dedicated to defeating Republicans at the ballot box.

The Civic Involvement Fund has so far evaded public scrutiny, but its efforts likely haven’t gone unnoticed by the Biden White House. The fund has three unpaid board members, two of whom—Kathleen Welch and William Roberts—are principals of Corridor Partners, a for-profit consulting firm dedicated to supporting green energy policies. The third board member, Shelley Hearne, is Welch’s spouse. Collectively, the fund’s three board members have logged 60 visits to the Biden White House since October 2021, including a dozen meetings with Biden climate envoy John Podesta, according to public visitor logs reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Civic Involvement Fund got its start with a single anonymous $10.7 million contribution in its 2019 tax year. The following year—amid a presidential election—the group passed its entire bankroll over to five groups, including the dark money affiliate of Priorities USA Action, a major Democratic super PAC. The fund did nothing else aside from giving out the money it received the prior year—it had zero employees, reported $0 worth of expenses, and raised just $2,550 in its 2020 tax year.

The fund repeated the process with greater success in its 2021 tax year, receiving two contributions totaling $24.5 million. The group waited until its 2022 tax year to forward that bounty to a collection of 14 pro-Democratic groups, including Future Forward USA Action, the dark money affiliate of President Joe Biden’s official super PAC.

Though Biden and other prominent liberals have made a show of publicly decrying the corrupting influence of dark money in politics, the Democratic Party has consistently outspent Republicans in dark money spending since 2018. Groups such as the Civic Involvement Fund aren’t required to disclose their donors to the public, so they’ve become the preferred vehicle for deep-pocketed donors seeking to influence public policy while avoiding public scrutiny.

The Civic Involvement Fund isn’t the only Democratic dark money group used to mask the identity of one or two select donors. In summer 2020, a dark money group called the Impetus Fund appeared with a $64 million contribution from a single anonymous donor, CBS News reported. The Impetus Fund then forwarded that cash to many of the same groups bankrolled by the Civic Involvement Fund, including Future Forward USA Action.

“The Civic Involvement Fund is representative of a trend among left-wing nonprofit activist groups,” said Parker Thayer, an investigative researcher at the Capital Research Center. “The money piles are getting bigger and darker even while Democrats heat up their rhetoric about conservative ‘dark money’ groups a fraction of the size.”

The Civic Involvement Fund reported in its 2020 tax return that its books were in the care of Corridor Partners, the consulting firm owned by two of its three board members. Curiously, however, the Civic Involvement Fund has never reported any payments to Corridor Partners in any of its public financial disclosures.

A dozen Civic Involvement Fund board visits to the White House were with Podesta, a powerful Democratic consultant whom Biden tapped to oversee the $369 billion climate change investment fund authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act.

While the identity of the fund’s patron (or patrons) remains unconfirmed, billionaire hedge fund manager Nat Simons did accompany Welch and Roberts to one of their meetings with Podesta. Simons is a prominent Democratic donor who has invested tens of millions of dollars promoting green energy policies. It’s unclear if that meeting had any relation to the Civic Involvement Fund.

Simons isn’t the only billionaire with ties to Corridor Partners, however. The firm also provides consulting services for the Walton Conservation Coalition, an environmentalist lobbying group chaired by Walmart billionaire heir Lukas Walton.

Corridor Partners also consults for the Linden Trust for Conservation, a green energy group led by former Goldman Sachs managing director Lawrence Linden.

Corridor Partners did not return a request for comment.