Trump judge selector Leonard Leo may have violated the Federalist Society’s tax statute to secure a $1.6 billion donation.
Leonard Leo, who helped choose former President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, has secured a historic $1.6 billion gift for his conservative legal network via an introduction through the Federalist Society, whose tax status prohibits political activism.
Leo first met Barre Seid, the 91-year-old manufacturing magnate turned donor, through an introduction hosted by Eugene Meyer, the longtime director of the Federalist Society. At the time, Leo was the executive vice president of the company and he currently serves as its co-president. Meyer envisioned Seid as a contributor to society, according to a person familiar with the introduction. Instead, Leo cultivated Seid as a funder of his own dark money network. The result was a $1.6 billion donation announced last year – believed to be the largest political donation ever.
The Federalist Society is prohibited from engaging in partisan political activities, but it appears that Leo is using the society as a back door to collect huge sums of money from conservative donors for partisan politics.
The corrupt arrangement caught the attention of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):
It’s worth keeping this infamous entanglement in mind as we examine the Supreme Court’s ethical mess today in @Court Dems hearing.
Remember the portrait of Leo, Clarence Thomas and the right-wing billionaire.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) May 2, 2023
Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans constantly talk about the swamp. The real swamp is full of black money from conservative billionaires who bought their place and corrupted the justice system. Courts are essential to democracy, but what people like Leonard Leo are doing is destroying democracy with the money of conservative billionaires.
Clarence Thomas is the symptom, not the disease, and it is high time that the uncorrupt elements of government stepped in and saved the courts from an inside attack from the right.
Jason is the editor. He is also a member of the White House press pool and a congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. His graduate studies focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Political Science Association