A veterans group urging Republican lawmakers to “put country over politics” amid the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is the project of a well-funded liberal “dark money” network. Defend American Democracy has spent six figures on television advertisements pressuring Republican members of Congress to “hold the president accountable for abusing his office and risking national security for his own gain.” The group, which primarily targets swing-district Republicans, prominently features military veterans in its ads and presents itself as a veterans group to local media outlets.Incorporation records on file with the District of Columbia reviewed by OpenSecrets reveal that the group is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a liberal dark money nonprofit that saw its revenue swell to a record $143.8 million last year.
The 501(c)(4) group is managed by Eric Kessler, a former Clinton administration official who runs the philanthropic firm Arabella Advisors. The anonymously funded nonprofit was behind several groups that ran “issue ads” to benefit Democrats during the 2018 midterms, as well as Demand Justice, a group that spent millions of dollars on ads attacking Brett Kavanaugh during his nomination to the Supreme Court. The Sixteen Thirty Fund and its sister 501(c)(3) nonprofit, New Venture Fund, have fiscally sponsored at least 80 of their own groups, bankrolling those entities in a way that leaves almost no paper trail.