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Washington— Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.)  yesterday sent a letter to Judicial Crisis Network’s (JCN) Chief Counsel and Policy Director Carrie Severino calling on the shadowy conservative group to release their secret list of donors. The letter from Senate Democrats comes after Judicial Crisis Network launched a $1.1 million ad campaign hypocritically calling for greater transparency by progressive advocacy organizations, despite JCN continuing to conceal the identity of its donors that have contributed tens of millions of dollars that were used to fund political ad campaigns in support of extreme right-wing judges like Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.

A full copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Ms. Carrie Severino
Chief Counsel and Policy Director
Judicial Crisis Network
1455 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Ms. Severino,

We write seeking information from the Judicial Crisis Network (“JCN”) regarding the sources of the organization’s funding, which remain hidden from the public. 

Over the last week, the Judicial Crisis Network began a $1.1 million ad campaign calling for greater transparency by progressive advocacy organizations in the judicial nominations process. Yet, despite your organization’s claimed commitment to transparency, JCN continues to conceal the identity of its donors.  As we understand it, these donors have contributed tens of millions of dollars used to fund political advertising campaigns in support of nominees like Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.  And as has recently been reported in the Washington Post, JCN has close ties with the Federalist Society and its Executive Vice President Leonard Leo, which have raised as much as $250 million in dark money over the last four years to fund efforts to confirm federal judges and Supreme Court Justices.

According to publicly available tax records, a single, anonymous $17.9 million donor accounted for 96.6 percent of JCN’s annual revenue in 2017.  JCN also received nearly $23.5 million in 2016 from the Wellspring Committee, a group that refuses to disclose the names of its donors. Most of Wellspring’s funds, in turn, came from one individual who gave the organization almost $28.5 million — nearly 90 percent of its revenue.                                                                                                                   

Instead of providing greater disclosure, you have previously claimed in interviews you have a “duty to my donors” not to disclose their identities. While keeping its donor list secret, JCN has spent tens of millions of dollars in advertisements threatening U.S. Senators over Supreme Court nominations, suggesting that they would “pay a heavy price” for their opposition. The American public deserves to know who is funding these attacks, and whether the same individuals are financing litigation before the Court that will ultimately be decided by the Justices and judges they helped to confirm. That is why Democrats have introduced legislation to require greater disclosure of donors by dark money groups like JCN.

In the interest of better understanding JCN’s efforts to influence the federal judiciary, we request that JCN provide the following information:

  1. The names of all donors to JCN in excess of $10,000 since 2017.
  2. The total number of donors to JCN since 2017.
  3. The total number of donations under $100 to JCN since 2017.
  4. The percentage (number and amount) of donations made to JCN by corporate entities since 2017. Please include a list of the names of these corporate entities.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.