Secretive Billionaire Hands Windfall to Conservatives
September 1, 2022 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Through a series of opaque transactions, secretive billionaire Barre Seid has given $1.6 billion to a non-profit run by Leonard Leo, the conservative Federalist Society co-chair who helped engineer the rightwing takeover of the courts. [ProPublica] posted by blue shadows (30 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's not really much upside to this, but one thing it's going to do is push them even further from reality, which isn't really going to help anyone. This kind of cash will make them feel like they don't need to listen to any outside opinion at all, they aren't trying to raise money or make people happy. This is the kind of fake hardass mindset these right wing types go bananas for.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:01 PM on September 1 [12 favorites]


Thanks for starting a discussion on this. I had been considering doing so, but every time I sat down to write anything about it I was overcome by a surge of despair.

This is a horrifying development for our democracy, all the more so because - unlike many of his colleagues in right-wing dark-money groups - Leo has a demonstrable record of success in achieving his malevolent goals.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:11 PM on September 1 [24 favorites]


I'm hoping they embezzle it all away on fancy dinners and yacht parties. Jobs for incompetent family members. TV ads that suck. Appearance fees for D-list dickheads. Private jet and helicopter flights, fancy-ass hotel rooms. These are Republicans we're talking about; they're all grifters at heart, and I sincerely hope they flush every cent of this money down the gilded toilet.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:29 PM on September 1 [41 favorites]


they're all grifters at heart, and I sincerely hope they flush every cent of this money down the gilded toilet.

It's a huge tax break for the donor Seid. He's made out pretty well, however the money spends.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:33 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


"All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation."

-John Adams
posted by clavdivs at 7:42 PM on September 1 [6 favorites]


It's a huge tax break for the donor Seid

It isn’t, though. The structure of the transaction avoided tax on the donation but did not count as a deduction for Seid: “if you give it to the 501(c)(4), there’s no charitable deduction for giving the money, but you avoid the tax on all of that appreciation.”
posted by jedicus at 7:43 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Which amounts to the same thing if he was wanting to devote 1+Billion to right wing fuckery.
posted by Mitheral at 7:53 PM on September 1


That's my point: Seid won't see a direct financial benefit, which speaks to how strongly he felt about the end result. This was the deliberate action of an awful person, who wants to destroy the government but is actually funding the creation of a theocracy.
posted by jedicus at 8:39 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


The structure of the transaction avoided tax on the donation but did not count as a deduction for Seid

You're right. The dark money group received the $400M tax break, not Seid.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:40 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Interesting development. I wouldn't describe it as a windfall though. I imagine a "philanthropic" conservative billionaire with no children was courted extensively by all the top conservative fundraisers, including Leo. It's a calculated investment in a certain type of political future.
posted by Hume at 8:43 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Having been part of efforts to call attention to Seid's role in funding the Heartland Institute, and then again when he left his foul prints all over the GMU deal, I guess I'm glad these journos finally found this story to be worthy of their attention.

Except that I'm not especially glad. It would be nice to think that this information being in the public eye could make a difference, but it seems far too late for that.

Maybe it was already too late a decade ago, I dunno.
posted by Not A Thing at 8:51 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


Money is people, my friend.
posted by Ickster at 9:06 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


The narcissism is astonishing. They think this and therefore we will all suffer for it. Sounds so much like the semi theocratic Putin, the curse of power, in an infinity loop with the desire for power.
posted by Oyéah at 9:43 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


On the positive side, assholes doing shit like this to try and enshrine their awful ideology for a thousand years are vastly underestimating the incoming global civilization-disrupting effects of the climate crisis. Even if they are able to achieve some political victories in the coming decade, it will all turn to ash in the climate wars a few decades later! :)
posted by lazaruslong at 11:00 PM on September 1 [8 favorites]


I met a Traveller from an antique land,
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings.”
Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
posted by biogeo at 12:46 AM on September 2 [19 favorites]


Is it any coincidence that his name is an anagram of "era debris"?
posted by chavenet at 2:44 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Or that that of the guy he gave the money to is an anagram of both Loon Led Era and Real Noodle?
posted by flabdablet at 4:11 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


So he’s George Soros?
posted by Ideefixe at 5:11 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Really starting to think that Kim Stanley Robinson is onto something.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:24 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


The fact that someone can have enough money to just give away $1.2B as part of an extended "there's people doing stuff I don't like at all" tantrum is horrifying, especially because he can support that much outright evil.
posted by mephron at 7:46 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


I don't want a civil war, but if we do have to have one, I hope that the survivors write a new Constitution and replace the second Amendment with a full and unconditional ban on private money in politics, of any kind whatsoever.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:32 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


I don't think you realize that the civil war has started. Just waiting on the shooting.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:20 AM on September 2


So he’s George Soros?

He is 10x George Soros
posted by pdoege at 12:01 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


So he’s George Soros?

Only without the space lasers.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:13 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck


I get the feeling that people like this are only too aware of the difficulties inherent in building things as a legacy, and that’s partially why they’re choosing the much cheaper, easier, and longer lasting legacies of smashing up what’s already there. If you’re actually aiming for a colossal wreck, the Ozymandias Effect is pretty easy to avoid.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:01 PM on September 2


My new offering is political ads which look like polls. That is where some of this money goes, because these are everywhere. In every print media.
posted by Oyéah at 3:55 PM on September 2


If you’re actually aiming for a colossal wreck, the Ozymandias Effect is pretty easy to avoid.

I.e. the Herostratus Gambit.
posted by quizzical at 4:14 PM on September 2


For perspective, the $1.6 billion that the Marble trust reaped from the sale is slightly more than the total of $1.5 billion spent in 2020 by 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with Democrats, according to an analysis by The Times. That spending, which Democrats embraced to aid the campaigns of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his allies in Congress, dwarfed the roughly $900 million spent by a comparable sample of 15 of the most politically active groups aligned with the Republican Party.

From the NYT article...
posted by subdee at 4:40 PM on September 2


They create all these politicised polls and then publish the results as fact. Bought and paid for, reality.
posted by Oyéah at 6:46 PM on September 2


Nothing will fundamentally change in this world until we figure out how to keep big money out of politics.

As big money knows all too well.
posted by Pouteria at 4:07 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


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