Dark money trail: Backing Dunbar for mayor, Sixteen Thirty Fund in hot water over major foreign donor pouring millions into races - Must Read Alaska
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HomePoliticsDark money trail: Backing Dunbar for mayor, Sixteen Thirty Fund in hot water over major foreign donor pouring millions into races

Dark money trail: Backing Dunbar for mayor, Sixteen Thirty Fund in hot water over major foreign donor pouring millions into races

A complaint filed by the Americans for Public Trust says that a Swiss billionaire has funneled millions of dollars into campaigns of Democrats through the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

That fund then funneled $35,000 into “Building a Stronger Anchorage,” a group solely dedicated to the election of Forrest Dunbar for mayor of Anchorage.

The complaint with the Federal Election Commission doesn’t reach as far down as the municipal level, but says that $200 million flowed from Hansjoerg Wyss’ nonprofit organizations — the Wyss Foundation and the Berger Action Fund –with the intent of pushing the money to campaigns for specific progressive candidates and causes. The group helped unseat Republicans in 2020, including Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona.

The complaint filed Friday notes that “the law prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions to political committees whether directly or indirectly.”

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Wyss had become one of the more influential donors to nonprofits that funneled money to the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

“Newly obtained tax filings show that two of Mr. Wyss’s organizations, a foundation and a nonprofit fund, donated $208 million from 2016 through early last year to three other nonprofit funds that doled out money to a wide array of groups that backed progressive causes and helped Democrats in their efforts to win the White House and control of Congress last year,” the Times wrote.

“Mr. Wyss’s representatives say his organizations’ money is not being spent on political campaigning. But documents and interviews show that the entities have come to play a prominent role in financing the political infrastructure that supports Democrats and their issues,” according to the Times.

Wyss also donated tens of millions of dollars over the past five years to groups opposing former President Donald Trump, and to support Democrats.

Americans for Public Trust filed the complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on Saturday.

“Hansjörg Wyss is a Swiss-born billionaire residing in the U.S. who contributes much of his wealth to various causes. Foreign nationals are prohibited from directly and indirectly making contributions to influence U.S. elections,” APT wrote. “However, Mr. Wyss, through a complicated scheme of non-profit foundations, has been able to make sizable contributions to establish and fund the Hub Project. The group then oversees spending in federal elections; yet, the group is not registered with the FEC.  The complaint requests that the FEC look into whether these contributions made by Mr. Wyss are indirect campaign contributions from a foreign national, running afoul of federal law. Given the significant campaign spending, the American public is entitled to a thorough investigation of this issue.”

Building a Stronger Anchorage, which is run by the liberal Ship Creek Group in Anchorage, used the Sixteen Thirty Fund money to conduct ballot harvesting through paid personnel in Anchorage for the mayoral election of Forrest Dunbar. The donation from Sixteen Thirty Fund was made in late February, records show. The Ship Creek Group also had a major contract to run the Dunbar campaign. Ship Creek Group also has a close business relationship with Lottsfeldt Strategies, run by Jim Lottsfeldt of Portland, which does campaign work in Alaska.

In a pitch for funds to increase its reach this spring, the group said it was laying the foundation for bigger political prizes, specifically the U.S. Senate race in Alaska:

“In the same way that Stacey Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight, laid the groundwork that enabled us to help Warnock and Ossoff over the finish line in 2020, organizations like Building a Stronger Anchorage are laying the groundwork for future U.S. Senate wins in Alaska,” the group admitted.

“Winning Anchorage’s mayoral race will pave the way for a purple future for Alaska, including in national elections such as the U.S. Senate, much the way that the progressive strength of metro-Atlanta has muscled Georgia into the purple column,” the group wrote.

“Forrest Dunbar is the progressive Democratic challenger. He’s in the Alaska Army National Guard and, since 2016, a member of the Anchorage Assembly. He is running on a platform of rebuilding Anchorage and its economy after COVID. His opponent, Dave Bronson, is new to politics and has gained popularity among a crowd vehemently opposed to the pandemic restrictions and with ties to the January 6 Capitol riots. Bronson is proposing dangerous rollbacks of policies around public health, economic growth, and housing and homelessness,” the group’s Chair Allie Banwell wrote. Banwell is managing partner of Ship Creek Group.

Banwell’s group also has ties to the Empurpling Project, “the new national startup supporting work to turn Alaska and other small-population red states into purple and blue states.”

Empurpling is a project of the George Soros Open Society Foundations through Bill Vandenberg, who directs U.S. Programs’ Special Initiatives and Partnerships Unit for Open Society.

Ballot Measure 2 forces Dunbar to admit Sixteen Thirty Fund ties

Dunbar’s dark money – what could go wrong?

The dark money connection between Dunbar and the Sixteen Thirty Group came to light after Must Read Alaska researched campaign spending. Because of Ballot Measure 2, that dark money trail became more discoverable. Ironically, the primary backer of Ballot Measure 2, Scott Kendall, was also a major supporter of the Forrest Dunbar for mayor campaign.

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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

  • This should have come out prior to the election. There must be consequences both here and nationwide (but there will be none). Some billionaires should sit in the cell recently vacated by Bernie Madoff (but nothing will happen).

  • Absolutely shocking. Not!

    If they can’t win fairly, they cheat, at every level, including boys competing in girls sports!

    Dunbar and his cult are the enemy.

    How strong does the coffee need to be before ppl see the sh*t sandwich under the lemon cake?

  • You sleuth! Hats off!!

  • Thats such a Depressing read! All the ways these peoples can use their wealth improving peoples lives so there is no need creating migrant trains, and here they are throwing good money away! How many children around the world today didnt recieve one clean glass of water because of these billionaires and their pawns selfishness. All the money given to Dunbar could had built a well for a poor village.

  • Democrats cheating as usual, foreigners contributing to a Bolshevik Comrade, the Scumbags stick together, like the Democrat pollster who claims Bronson cheated without any proof.

  • Take my money MustReadAlaska!! You are doing really important work here and I want you to know it’s appreciated!! $$ Wish I had more to give but every little bit counts!

  • Wow! Thank you Suzanne for exposing this Big (Swiss) Cheese. Not making light of this very serious problem though. I’d never heard the term ‘Empurpling’? Sounds like something the ‘woke globalists’ would come up with while they pretend we are going to live in a My Little Pony Utopia where we all worship rainbow colors and have names like Twilight Sparkle while they destroy our cities from within. You are so important to Alaskans and thank you again!!

  • No comment from Greg R or harborguy…….. very telling

  • Great research, now please write the Dark Money being funneled into the GOP from folks like the Mercers, Koch brother and others.

  • “Ship Creek Group “ ……..
    Where are the ballots being “counted “?

    Thanks for this article. I’m sure Washington DC will be all over it.

  • This should be on the nightly news.

  • An eye-opening article. Excellent reporting once again, Must Read Alaska!

  • Dumbar is just a pawn, controlled by the same people who gave us “Citizens United” and are now giving us “Critical Race Theory”.
    Object being to divide America into EVE (Everyone Vs. Everyone) to enable the presently weak Communists to come into power.
    Question is why are so many Americans voting for their shills, their agenda? I can understand the desire for revenge by people of color, but nearly half of the whites are voting for it also.
    Are there that many Americans who want Communist rule? Are they that angry that they will destroy America just for revenge? Do they really want “No Dogs or Whites Allowed”?
    It will be like when Sampson pushed the two pillars down and collapsed the temple. He killed more with that move, then he had in all his battles. That’s what will happen if America becomes communist. The Commies will die, right along with the rest of us.
    “A house divided shall not stand”

  • Great investigative reporting! Not much of that going on nowadays!

  • And again evidence that the blue left cannot make inroads without underhandedness.

  • Great work Suzanne! Now to make this enpurpling stuff illegal. We can fight a war on terror thousands of miles away but we can’t fight financial and political invasion at home?

  • Mission complete, Anchorage is already “empurple,” which requires a healthy balance of red. It’s sad knowing there are so many Outsiders hellbent on destroying perfectly good communities just because they don’t conform to an insane agenda. AstroTurf much, Forrest?

  • Thank God we have the Prop 2 law that prevents dark money…
    Oh… wait….

  • Dunbar? DONE FOR.

  • Wow true investigative journalism is still possible in 2021. Thank you MRA!
    I have been able to dump lame stream media, a burden lifted off of my shoulders.

  • Foreign interference in our elections is ok when it helps Democrats I guess.

  • Sooooo, did not Scott Kendall think that with the passage of Prop 2, there would be light shown on the contributions to the campaign he so fervently supported? I’d say he didn’t think there would be someone to dive deep into the money trail as our Suzanne Downing! Thanks for your diligence and persistence into uncovering what I’ve always believed to be the crux behind liberal/progressive politics; the flow of dark money into the coffers of people that want to dismantle our way of living.

  • Dunbar is a Cheat, Loser, mask wearing Liar

    Another reason to stop this prop 2 bull. Before the next election.

  • Excellent reporting, Ms. Downing. I expect that you’ll take the far greater amounts of ‘dark money’ – from the likes of Texas billionaires, oil tycoons, and sundry other right wing interest groups – that have flowed into our governor’s coffers with equal levels of seriousness. So too might you investigate such shadowy funds that routinely come into Sen. Sullivan’s campaign, among many others in the state legislature. While you’re at it, let’s fight together to overturn Citizen’s United; after all that disastrous decision opened these floodgates. Glad to see to you take an interest in this topic.

  • All the squeaky wheels talking about GOP money- you’re right- there’s a lot of it. A lot coming from the same places your left wing pols get theirs. Fun fact: You lefties are now the party of the Uber wealthy. Wall Street gives, almost exclusively to the left, as do bankers and 90% of the worlds CEOs and corporate management teams. Face it- you guys are the party of the rich, looking for ways to screw the little guy. Granted, they buy off GOP pols as well, but they give more to your Marxist heroes and the republicans they buy off are usually RINOs anyway—point being— real conservatives are for the little guy..the middle class..the entrepreneur, and they love America. Big corporate, Wall Street, and the CCP, are buying and selling your favorite left wing politician like they do any other commodity. Own it. Embrace it. It’s who you guys are. You can fight with us, for the individual, or you can bow to your corporate masters, but don’t whine that MRAK isn’t exploring the “right wing” dark money-because it doesn’t really exist, because the GOP, at least in its form the last 30 years, isn’t really right wing.. although look out, because it may be headed that way…

  • Crap reporting on your part ‘pilot james’. Since unlike Ms. Downing you offer No Proof of your accusations and so we must assume you are a liar. Actually, aren’t you that pilot that believes UFOs are flying in and out of Alaskan volcanos? Pretty sure it’s you.

  • Harbor guy, only one Koch brother remains. They are US residents. Not dark money. Probably hard for you to understand since you’re a lib.

  • How precious and yet so foreign. And here we thought we were planning our own bright future thinking of jamming winter biking for 80 year olds all on our own! Do you mean to tell me our 2020 elections were rigged just like we thought and all the rest will be also? No wonder you didn’t fill at home here. Also, I don’t wanna be on Klaus and Hilda Scwab’s recreational Davos cyborg team! Is this where we say “I DON’T CONSENT!!!”?

  • And, I just thought “I guess nobiddy is home today…”

  • @PILOT JAMES

    The butthurt is strong.

  • Now wait for your late property tax statement….which should have been in our hands already cuz first half installment due in June for those people who own out right.

  • Not so fast…they had all weekend to FIND votes!

  • The hooligan are here.

  • “If you don’t get caught, you didn’t do anything wrong”. Any child – innocent since they’ve yet to understand right and wrong.
    “If you don’t get caught, you didn’t do anything wrong”. Any democrat – accountable since they know right from wrong and reject it for their own ends.

    Lie, cheat and steal in plain sight. If challenged, deny it outright. If you are held accountable, what did you have to lose? They have become emboldened by the absence of accountability. They’re like the Onlies from that Star Trek episode, ‘Miri’. “Bonk bonk on their heads”

  • We have to give Suzanne HUGE thanks and support for researching the flow of dark money into Alaska politics. Without her and her reporting organization, MRAK, we Alaskans would be in the dark. Great job, Suzanne!

  • @Harborguy:
    “Great research, now please write the Dark Money being funneled into the GOP from folks like the Mercers, Koch brother and others.”
    Careful what you wish for. A full investigation into both sides of the political aisle may reveal some truths that will damage the left more than the right. By the way, you are aware that the Koch brothers also donate to the Democrats, right?

  • Should be illegal for ANY and ALL out of state monies to be donated to elections from another state. All donations should come from the city/state that the election is being held in ONLY!

  • May 17 — 2:45 p.m.

    Next update for runoff election results will be Tuesday

    The Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s Office announced Monday that no updated preliminary results for the mayoral runoff election will be posted Monday.

    Evidently, they’re having trouble with “Plan B” and the blank ballots………..

  • Harborguy stop whining, that money has to come from the outside as not many “real” Alaskans support Dunbar/Berkowitz type of governance. We all know that.
    The irony is that the left pushed prop 2 in hopes of exposing republicans not knowing that many republicans get help and support from right here at home! Now go do your homework and read up on George Soros.

  • AK WOLF: I would include stopping money being laundered through local third parties.

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