A group tied to the influential anti-abortion activist Leonard Leo gave $3 million to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) in the fourth quarter, making it the largest contributor to the organization in 2022, according to an analysis of IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).
The Concord Fund, a dark money group affiliated with the Trump “judge whisperer” and Federalist Society board co-chair, also made a $1-million contribution to RAGA in the first quarter, bringing its total for the year to $4 million.
Leo’s increasing influence on local legal landscapes comes as the fight over reproductive rights moves to the states following the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial decision last summer overturning Roe v. Wade.
The largest known financial backer of Leo’s political network is Barre Seid, the Chicago electronics manufacturer who contributed $1.65 billion to his Marble Freedom Trust in 2020, which, in turn, passed along $16.5 million to The Concord Fund, The New York Times reported.
RAGA pays Leo’s Creative Response Concepts—rebranded as CRC Advisors—$7,500 per month for “consulting,” according to 2022 IRS filings.
With its $1.5 million in contributions, the Institute for Legal Reform was the second largest donor to RAGA in 2022, CMD found. This affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce focuses on advancing business-friendly legal reforms such as making class-action lawsuits more difficult to file and defending business interests in court.
A Koch Industries contribution of $755,000 and Altria’s $500,000 donation rounded out the top four 2022 donors to RAGA.
Charles Koch, the billionaire CEO of Koch Industries, has not only heavily financed RAGA over the years—both personally and through his companies—he is also a key contractor for the organization. RAGA continues to subscribe to i360, “Koch’s data mine,” for $4,000 a month, 2022 IRS filings show.
RAGA’s post-general report and year-end report indicate that the organization raised a total of $8.3 million in the fourth quarter, bringing its total revenues to $21.7 million for the year and $34.5 million for the midterm election cycle.
In the fourth quarter, the next largest contributions behind The Concord Fund’s $3 million came from the Rule of Law Defense Fund ($400,000), RAGA’s 501(c)(4) advocacy arm; billionaire real estate tycoon Steve Wynn ($300,000); and GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein‘s Fair Courts America ($250,100).
Together with its affiliates, the Rule of Law Defense Fund and the Center for Law and Policy, RAGA runs a cash-for-influence operation that coordinates the official actions of Republican state attorneys general and sells its corporate funders access to those AGs and their staff.
RAGA Spends Big on Elections, Funnels $1.9 Million to Georgia Governor's Leadership Committee
RAGA spent more than $16 million in the final weeks before the November 2022 elections, bringing its cycle spending total to $36.6 million. In October and November, most of that went to independent expenditures for state AG races, including close to $6.5 million for TV ads, $1.3 million for direct mail and text messages, and $773,000 for digital advertising.
In an unusual move, RAGA also disclosed contributing $1.9 million to the Georgians First Leadership Committee set up by Georgia’s GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, the post-general report shows.
Kemp won a second term in November by again defeating Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
RAGA's next largest campaign donation in the fourth quarter was for $800,000 to the Bird for Iowa AG race. Brenna Bird (R) narrowly defeated longtime incumbent Tom Miller (D), winning 50.8% of the vote to oust her predecessor from an almost 40-year run as the country's longest-serving attorney general.
The Iowa race clearly proved to be a top priority for RAGA, which disclosed spending a total of $2 million in 2022 to elect Bird, CMD calculated.
RAGA's other campaign contributions in the fourth quarter went to Louisiana candidate for AG Liz Murrill ($5,000); South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson ($3,500), who won reelection to his fourth term in November; and Kentucky candidate for AG Russell Coleman ($2,000).
Both the Louisiana and Kentucky AG races are ongoing, with the election in Louisiana taking place on October 14 this year, and the Kentucky election following on November 7.