The Concord Fund (CF), a right-wing dark money group also known as the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), recently poured nearly $2.1 million into the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), according to a filing made to the IRS this week and reviewed by Documented. The organization exists to promote the confirmation of right-wing judges to the courts, and has committed to spending at least $10m in ads to support the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
The filing, which covers the period between July and the end of September 2020, shows that RAGA received $1.4m of this support late in the period. This happened just a week after President Trump released a new list of possible nominees to the Supreme court that he would consider if a vacancy were to come up. That contribution is dated September 16th, just two days before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. RBG’s ongoing fight with cancer was widely known at the time. It has subsequently been reported that her health took a severe turn earlier that week, after she was hospitalized for a number of days the week before.
RAGA, and many republican attorneys general have been actively promoting Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. 22 Republican attorneys general, all members of RAGA, sent a letter to members of the Senate on September 30th, urging them to support her confirmation. And RAGA has been promoting a video that it produced, with attorneys general standing before the American flag waxing lyrical about the judge.
RAGA was similarly active in supporting the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh in 2018, a year when it eventually received a total of $3m from JCN.
The Concord Fund/JCN is run by Carrie Severino, a former law clerk of Justice Clarence Thomas. Severino, who became the leader of the group in 2010, is an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, and helped draft legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act.
According to a recent New York Times article, describing a 2019 on-air conversation Severino had with an anti-abortion activist, Severino made clear her motivations in pushing for the confirmation of judges like Amy Coney Barrett. NYT: "To 'get to our ultimate goal,' she said, 'we are going to, in the end, need one more justice.' "
RAGA spun off from the Republican State Leadership Committee, another corporate-backed 527, in 2014. It immediately began raising large sums from major republican donors to be used to help elect Republican attorneys general. In return for large corporate contributions, it sold private and typically undisclosed access to republican state attorneys general, with the largest contributors getting the most access during the groups annual meetings. In that first year, it received $1.5m in cash from Sheldon Adelson, $2.2m from groups associated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $215k from Altria, and $125k from Koch Industries.
But overwhelmingly it has been the Judicial Crisis Network that has made the largest contributions to RAGA each year. According to an analysis by Documented of the organization’s quarterly IRS filings, since 2014 JCN/CF has donated a total of $12.7m. No other entity comes close to that level of support. Since its launch, JCN/CF has given more to RAGA than the next five highest donors combined.
Below is the 2020 Q3 RAGA filing in full: