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.
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.