Ballot Measure 2 strikes Dunbar campaign, forced to admit its dark money is from Outside Alaska - Must Read Alaska
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Ballot Measure 2 strikes Dunbar campaign, forced to admit its dark money is from Outside Alaska

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New campaign finance laws known as Ballot Measure 2, passed by voters in November, are beginning to sting the Forrest Dunbar campaign.

In the current attack ad against opponent Dave Bronson launched by supporters of Forrest Dunbar, the disclaimer at the end of the ad admits that “A majority of contributions to Building a Stronger Anchorage came from outside the state of Alaska.” That’s now required by law.

Majority of money is an understatement: All of money used to attack Dave Bronson is coming from a national attack dog group.

What group? The Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Ballot Measure 2 created a wide-open jungle primary for state and national seats, as well as ranked-choice voting during the General Election. None of that will go into effect until the 2022 cycle.

But the campaign finance part of the ballot measure requires greater disclosure of where the money comes from. Dark money must be disclosed in campaigns being run this year.

Only a handful of Alaskans truly understand the ballot measure, which stretches 25 pages long. Among other things, it requires persons and entities that contribute more than $2,000 that were themselves derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts to disclose the true sources (as defined in law) of the political contributions.

That means that groups like Building a Stronger Anchorage have to follow the law, and tell Alaskans the real source of their funding.

Building a Stronger Anchorage is funded, as it turns out, 100 percent by the dark-money Sixteen Thirty Fund in Washington, D.C. The Sixteen Thirty Fund’s existence dates back to the scandal-ridden ACORN group that was exposed to be engaged with voting fraud by Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe.

In 2018, The Sixteen Thirty Fund spent $141 million on over 100 left-leaning and Democratic causes.

According to Influence Watch:

“The Sixteen Thirty Fund (sometimes styled “1630 Fund”) is a left-of-center lobbying and advocacy organization founded in 2008.[1] Sixteen Thirty Fund often operates alongside its charitable “sister” nonprofit New Venture Fund, which provides similar funding and fiscal sponsorship services to center-left organizations. Both groups, along with the Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund,  are administered by Arabella Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based philanthropy consulting firm that caters to left-leaning clients.

According to its founding documents, the Sixteen Thirty Fund was created with seed funding from Americans United for Change (AUFC)ACORNUSAction, the Sierra Club, and Working America[2]

Both Sixteen Thirty Fund and New Venture Fund have been criticized as “dark money” organizations by left-leaning news outlets, including the New York Times, for serving as a way for left-wing groups to anonymously funnel money toward various advocacy issues, such as attacking vulnerable Republicans or pushing state-level environmental restrictions. [3] [4]

In April 2021, the New York Times criticized Arabella’s “system of political financing, which often obscures the identities of donors,” as “dark money,” calling the network “a leading vehicle for it on the Left.” [5] Left-leaning Politico has called the Sixteen Thirty Fund a “massive ‘dark money’ network” responsible for “boost[ing] Democrats” in the 2018 midterm elections, a “liberal dark-money behemoth,” a “secretly funded nonprofit,” and “one of the Left’s financial hubs” responsible for “attacking Republican senators” in 2019. [6] [7] [8] The Sixteen Thirty Fund has also been characterized as one of the “key groups founded to resist Trump” by the left-leaning Atlantic. [9]

In its 2018 Form 990, New Venture Fund shows a $26.7 million grant to the Sixteen Thirty Fund for “capacity building.” [10] Sixteen Thirty Fund’s Form 990 of the same year, also shows zero employees, and notes in Schedule O that “New Venture Fund (NVF) is the paymaster for Sixteen Thirty Fund payroll. NVF pays the salary and immediately invoices Sixteen Thirty Fund, which reimburses the full amount.” [11]

Arabella and its nonprofit network have been criticized as “dark money” funders both for channeling hundreds of millions of dollars to left-wing organizations and for hosting hundreds of “pop-up groups”—websites designed to look like standalone nonprofits that are really projects of an Arabella-run nonprofit. [12]

In November 2019, Politico criticized the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the 501(c)(4) advocacy wing of Arabella’s nonprofit network, as a “little-known,” “massive ‘dark money’ group [that] boosted Democrats” in the 2018 midterm elections with $140 million. “The money contributed to efforts ranging from fighting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and other Trump judicial nominees to boosting ballot measures raising the minimum wage and changing laws on voting and redistricting in numerous states,” the left-leaning website reported. Politico also noted that Sixteen Thirty Fund’s biggest single donation (made anonymously) was for $51.7 million, “more than the group had ever raised before in an entire year before President Donald Trump was elected,” adding that “the group’s 2018 fundraising surpassed any amount ever raised by a left-leaning political nonprofit.” [13]

The left-leaning Washington Post further criticized Arabella’s Sixteen Thirty Fund as a “big campaign donor” in a November 21, 2019 opinion by the editorial board, which called on Congress to change nonprofit disclosure laws, noting in particular a $26.7 million anonymous donation to the Fund. [14] However, the Post also failed to connect the Sixteen Thirty Fund to Arabella Advisors and its other three nonprofits.

In a November 24, 2019 letter to the editor published by the Washington Post, Capital Research Center president Scott Walter identified the $26.7 million donation as originating with the New Venture Fund, the largest of Arabella’s in-house nonprofits, and confirmed Politico’s suspicion that the Sixteen Thirty Fund is “part of a larger network of dark money.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • So now they have to admit that Dunbar is owned by wealthy political activists from outside???? C’mon, man.

  • Hell bent on turning Anchorage into the next Seattle, Portland, through meddling Liberals.

    Wake up Anchorage, before the liberal policies from loser cities take you for a 30 year ride to disaster!

    Watch the Seattle is Dying video on YouTube.

  • We need to pass a law No Outside Money for campaigning!!

    This goes for all politicians!!

    Outside money is evil and does not represent Alaskans.

  • I’ll say it again: we need Juneau to immediately pass a law forbidding any outside money in state and local elections. We must also ban out of state campaign volunteers. No more Lower 48 interference!!!!

  • So someone figured out how to use their own pages of gobbledygook against them. Good. Now people need to read and follow Alinsky to the T to expose and destroy progressives.

  • Of course his money is coming from the outside…the corporations that want to replace Democracy with a Corporate Totalitarian model.
    If Dunbar is elected the city will struggle to ever get away from mask mandates and “health” intrusion to small business and private life.
    No one in Alaska likes what the current assembly (under Dunbar) has done to the city….not even the police union…that should say all you need to know.

  • Well, it’s not like anybody here was going to pay for Forrest to trash the joint.

  • Thank you for researching and writing this, Suzanne. It must have taken considerable time and effort to chase all this info down and put it together in this article.
    Alaskans deserve to know that part of the financing for Dunbar comes from the Sierra Club, a group whose intent is to shut down all resource development and extraction in Alaska, and turn our state into a giant nature preserve.

  • Multi-million dollar “anonymous” donations to a communist dark money channel? This is sedition folks, not innocent campaign funding. If you trace all the associations and named ancestors of ACORN – obama’s funding and get-out-the-vote organization – you will find that they are linear descendants of the Wobblies of the 1920’s & ’30s, the communist party. They have a habit of changing their name and resurfacing somewhere else every few years. You have uncovered a much darker conspiracy than you think Suzanne. Prop 2 had much less to do with Senator Lisa than in just electing commies at every level. No more dark money, no more anonymous donors, period. No more quiet ways to circumvent campaign donation limits…

  • I’d better list the sources I remember: US News and World Report, 1990’s, World Magazine during the obama presidency years. ACORN was also active during the clinton campaigns. I haven’t taken the time lately, but I believe an information trail may still exist to verify my charge (it’s too depressing… to feel like we’re continually under attack…). Communism is evil incarnate.

  • Although it is good to see all this dark money and dark dealing outside groups exposed it almost makes you want to throw up….but remember they could not function in our State unless some unsavory folks running for office in Alaska were not there for them to work for and with..!!

  • “A majority of contributions to Building a Stronger Anchorage came from outside the state of Alaska.”

    Really? “A Stronger Anchorage.” Yeah, like loss of freedom, loss of free speech, high crime, high homelessness, high spending! Wake up, Anchorage.

    The only surprise here is that the Dunbar campaign followed the law. And it’s no surprise the only media to report the Outside financial contributions to the Dunbar campaign is MRA. Thanks, Suzanne!

  • Why did anybody want to spend so much big, dark money on Alaska? Isn’t it folly? Some people have more money than sense.

  • Think of the many robust soup kitchens that money could fund. No wonder old Dunbar be floating around smiling…

  • This is really going to sting Lisa Murkowski, as there are not many Alaskans going to be giving her money.

  • I heard one of Dunbar’s attack ads on an Iheartradio.com commercial break. It was a trip to after hear the announcer after saying that Bronson was corrupt, to hear the disclaimer at the end saying this ad was paid for by a PAC out of Washington D.C., and they had to say that due to state laws.

  • The Democrats are the party of the plutocrats and the underclass. They’ve got all the money in the world from the rich, and they open the borders to get the votes.

  • A suggestion for the young Mr. Dunbar: “Run Forrest, Run..”. As in run far, far away. Maybe you can go live where some of your big-city supporters live.

  • I want to thank Suzanne for all her research of our local groups who are involved in the “dark money” scandals. Someone somewhere needs to keep a list of all our local grps.

  • It appears we have a new Anchorage mayor, thank God, and the people of Anchorage have joined forces to oust this clot of miscreants bent on destroying the wonderful Anchorage community.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Suzanne, for more substantive, excellent reporting on Devious Dunbar and his dark money sources. Just Another Pretty Face did not succeed in the larger plan of importing the leftist agenda now destroying San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and other formerly great cities. The revelation of his attempts to intimidate local religious leaders into supporting his plan for ongoing lock down was a telling moment for me.

  • Follow the money.
    If Ballot Measure 2 really was meant to stop corruption in politics, it would have contained wording to prevent outside money being used for political campaigns in Alaska. The point was made in the comments that there are unsavory candidates that take this money for their campaigns. To me, the bigger point is that political campaigns involve far too much money to begin with, hence it’s a big financial boost to many businesses come election time.

    It’s also extremely difficult in many cases for an honest candidate to raise enough money for a winning campaign. To carry this further, we can use Lisa Murkowski as an example of why we need campaign reform. Her first fundraiser when she lost to Joe Miller in the primary election was held in Washington DC.

    In the last three months it appears the vast majority of her funds are coming from PACs and institutions located outside Alaska. To be fair, Mike Dunleavy received large donations from his brother in his run for governor.
    When you look at how financially well off many long term politicians in DC have become, the level of corruption is obvious. They all owe something to someone or some corporation and the favor must be returned. Meanwhile the spending goes on with borrowed money to be paid back by the general public with apparently no concern by those in power.

  • We knew that already, but until now, we couldn’t make them air their dirty laundry.

  • Suzanne, thank you for all your hard work on bringing out the facts. I applaud you.

  • The ongoing Californicating of Anchorage by the leftists………..

  • Do you really think the woke crowd will care? He is a proud homosexual who fits the mold all enemies of capitalism and freedom want to see in positions of power, he will receive support from all over the world in order to destroy all we hold dear.

  • Curious to see how many days will pass before either the ADN or KTUU reports on this. Or am I just being overly optomistic?

  • The Democrats are having another hissy fit over Bronson. While Dunbar actually campaigns very well in his high heels, Bronson needs to slip on a pair of cowboy boots and show the high-heeled man who’s in charge of this rodeo.

  • Finally something good comes out of Ballot Measure 2. Shame they had to drag rank choice voting in with it.

  • Why am I not surprised? With the expenses involved in running for office anywhere in the US, candidates have become more vulnerable to large money donations, be they in or out of the state. However, in the case of the democrats, it may be the case that they really want to turn Alaska blue. And not just Alaska, but any other red state as well. What about the recall? Where, according to a witness, did they get the money to pay for a paid petition circulator from Florida? The recall started 60 days after the election was over. Too soon. More like taking out Gray Davis in California so Ken Lay would not be sued for $8 Billion. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that this story did not get addressed by the mainline press and TV should be a warning to all of us. We need to be vigilant. Thanks, Suzanne!

  • Northern Son: I have two news subscriptions. The Epoch times for $77 per year, and MRAK for at least a couple hundred I donate per year … which is more than the ADN’s subscription price, who hasn’t gotten a penny out of me, ever.
    The ADN (even the FDNM) wonders why their not profitable? That’s a lie. They know why … but their agenda is more important than honest news.

  • JOSEPHDJ, so sad that you are right on correct.

  • Dunbar:
    “The San Francisco treat” to Anchorage.

  • Julia: More like the “San Francisco Threat” to Anchorage.

  • Forget Covid-19, let’s screen out the liberal political bacteria that’s grown in Anchorage. Vote!

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