Judicial Crisis Network

The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), formerly known as Judicial Confirmation Network (since December 2019 legally known as the Concord Fund) is a Washington, D.C.-based tax-exempt charity that serves as the hub of a well-funded politically conservative "dark money" network.[1][2] It was founded in 2005 by the right-wing activist and fundraiser Ann Corkery and is closely associated with Leonard Leo.[3][4] The current President is Carrie Severino, a former law clerk for Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.[5] The organization describes itself as "dedicated to strengthening liberty and justice in America"[6] and supports conservative appointments to American judicial posts. The Judicial Education Project, now called The 85 Fund, is closely aligned with the JCN.[7][8][9]

Judicial Crisis Network
SuccessorThe 85 Fund; Concord Fund
Formation2020 (2020)
Type501(c)(4)
Location
LeaderCarrie Severino
Gary Marx, Daniel Casey
Expenses (2016)$37,177,415 (with JEP)
Websitewww.judicialnetwork.com Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
Judicial Confirmation Network

BackgroundEdit

The organization was founded in 2005 to promote the judicial appointees of then president George W. Bush.[10] Fundraiser and lawyer Ann Corkery, along with California real estate magnate Robin Arkley II, were key to the beginning of the organization.[11] The JCN is closely affiliated with Leonard Leo.[12]

The current leader is Carrie Severino.[13][14] She was previously a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and to Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[15][16] She is a contributor to National Review.[17][18] She is married to Roger Severino.

Severino received her J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.[19] Severino has been involved with constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act.[20][21]

FundingEdit

The leading funder of JCN is the Wellspring Committee, which is directed by Ann Corkery.[10] Wellspring, which does not disclose who funds it, gave close to $7 million to JCN in 2014;[22] between 2012 and 2015, it reported giving JCN more than $15 million.[23] In total, the Wellspring Committee's IRS filings show that it donated more than $52,000,000 to the JCN between 2011 and 2016.[24][25][26][27][28] JCN's tax return for the period July 2015 to June 2016 shows that one $17.9 million donation, whose source was not reported, accounted for 96.6 percent of the organization's revenue.[23]

Advocacy activitiesEdit

Political CampaignsEdit

In 2013, JCN ran ads in Alaska that were critical of U.S. senator Mark Begich's votes to approve all of president Barack Obama's federal judicial nominees.[29] The group also ran advertisements that were critical of Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor's votes for president Obama's court picks.[30]

In 2016, it donated $2,765,000 to the Tea Party Patriots, $1,425,000 to the Americans for Limited Government, $950,000 to the American Conservative Union, and $500,000 to the Club for Growth. [27]

Gun RightsEdit

In 2016, its IRS disclosures show that the JCN donated $1,000,000 to the National Rifle Association.[27]

AbortionEdit

In 2016, its IRS disclosures show that the JCN donated $330,000 to the National Right to Life Committee.[27]

Death PenaltyEdit

In 2015, the Judicial Crisis Network donated $600,000 to Nebraskans for the Death Penalty, a group promoting reinstatement of capital punishment in Nebraska.[31][32]

Religious GroupsEdit

In 2016, it donated $100,000 to Catholic Vote Civic Action.[27]

Judicial Appointments and Election of JudgesEdit

Supreme Court NominationsEdit

A key premise underlying the JCN's Supreme Court campaigns was articulated by Leonard Leo in his remarks to the Council for National Policy: “We’re going to have to understand that judicial confirmations these days are more like political campaigns."[4]

Campaign against Merrick GarlandEdit

Also in 2016, the JCN bought advertisements across the country to oppose president Obama's supreme court nominee, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Merrick Garland.[10] In November 2016, after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, JCN ran television advertisements praising senate judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley for holding the line against Garland.[33] The group also spent over $500,000 on advertisements thanking Trump for his campaign promises regarding the types of justices he would select for the nation's high court. JCN's advertisements asked viewers to thank Trump for pledging to nominate conservative jurists in the mold of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court.[34][35]

Campaign for Neil GorsuchEdit

On January 31, 2017, the Judicial Crisis Network committed to spending $10 million on advocacy ads in favor of president Donald Trump's first Supreme Court of the United States nominee, Neil Gorsuch.[36] The JCN lobbying blitz focused in particular on Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota, all of which were battleground states in the 2018 Senate Elections.[37]

Campaign for Brett KavanaughEdit

The Judicial Crisis Network spent $4.5 million in ad buys supportive of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.[38] In 2019, the watchdog group Campaign for Accountability accused JCN of sending illegal robotexts to Indiana residents about the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.[39]

Campaign to fill seat before 2020 Election and for Amy Coney BarrettEdit

In September 2020, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, JCN launched a $2.2 million campaign to support President Trump's right to appoint a judge prior to the November 2020 presidential election, a move with no historical precedent.[40][41][42]

The Judicial Crisis has spent at least $6.3 on national television advertisements supporting the Republican effort to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee a week before the election.[43] As of October 26, the group spent an additional $2.9 million on digital ads, direct mail and text messages supporting Barrett.[44][45]

State Supreme Court ElectionsEdit

In 2012, JCN spent between $600,000 and $1 million on an ad alleging that law professor Bridget McCormack, a candidate for the Supreme Court of Michigan, “volunteered to free a terrorist."[46]

In 2013 and 14, the Judicial Crisis Network bankrolled organizations that ran campaigns for candidates in the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court. More than $500,000 of this money was used to support Patience Roggensack’s successful reelection campaign in Wisconsin.[47]

In 2015-16, the Judicial Crisis Network contributed nearly $2 million to conservative groups involved in state supreme court elections for seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Ohio Supreme Court, the West Virginia Supreme Court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Judicial Crisis Network also spent more $500,000 to block Justice Courtney Goodson’s bid for Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, which they accomplished.[46]

Other Judicial CampaignsEdit

In 2014, the group ran digital advertisements critical of Chris Christie's judicial appointments.[5][48] JCN has been active in North Carolina supreme court elections.[49]

In 2016, the JCN ran a negative advertisement about Jane L. Kelly, a federal appeals judge from Iowa who was on a White House list of possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.[50]

Relationships with the Republican PartyEdit

Republican Attorneys General AssociationEdit

Between 2013 and 2016, it donated $2,100,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association. In 2017, it donated $2,900,000 million to the RAGA.[51] In 2018, it donated $5,900,000 to the RAGA, making it far and away the largest donor to the RAGA.[52]

Other Elements of the Republican PartyEdit

In 2016, it donated $200,000 to the Republican Governors Association.

Between 2012 and 2016, it donated $665,000 to the Republican State Leadership.[27]

Other paymentsEdit

Between 2016 and 2018, the Judicial Crisis Network paid more than $1.2 million to the BH Group.[53] The BH Group, a Virginia-based LLC, is the employer of Leonard Leo.[54]

Between 2016 and 2018, its sister entity, the Judicial Education Project, contributed nearly $2 million to George Mason University Foundation.[55][56][57]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ NW, The Center for Responsive Politics 1300 L. St; Washington, Suite 200; info, DC 20005 telelphone857-0044 (May 27, 2020). "Conservative 'dark money' network rebranded to push voting restrictions before 2020 election". OpenSecrets News. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  2. ^ Treene, Jonathan Swan,Alayna. "Leonard Leo to shape new conservative network, step aside from the Federalist Society". Axios. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  3. ^ NW, The Center for Responsive Politics 1300 L. St; Washington, Suite 200; info, DC 20005 telelphone857-0044 (March 23, 2015). "The JCN Story: Building a Secretive GOP Judicial Machine". OpenSecrets News. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  4. ^ a b O'Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg Shawn (May 21, 2019). "A Conservative Activist's Behind-The-Scenes Campaign to Remake the Nation's Courts". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b Haberman, Maggie (July 15, 2014). "Conservative judicial group to hammer Chris Christie". Politico. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "About the Judicial Crisis Network". Judicial Crisis Network. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  7. ^ Levine, Sam; Massoglia, Anna (May 27, 2020). "Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network". Retrieved June 15, 2020 – via www.theguardian.com.
  8. ^ NW, The Center for Responsive Politics 1300 L. St; Washington, Suite 200; info, DC 20005 telelphone857-0044 (May 27, 2020). "Conservative 'dark money' network rebranded to push voting restrictions before 2020 election". OpenSecrets News. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Treene, Jonathan Swan,Alayna. "Leonard Leo to shape new conservative network, step aside from the Federalist Society". Axios. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Michaelson, Jay (March 29, 2016). "Billionaires Try to Buy the Supreme Court". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Novak, Viveca; Stone, Peter (March 23, 2015). "The JCN Story: Building a Secretive GOP Judicial Machine". OpenSecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  12. ^ Michaelson, Jay (July 9, 2018). "The Secretive Puppetmaster Behind Trump's Supreme Court Pick". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  13. ^ Bauman, Michelle (February 6, 2013). "Legal Scholar Deplores Media Confusion Over HHS Mandate". National Catholic Register. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  14. ^ Greenhouse, Linda (August 20, 2014). "By Any Means Necessary". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  15. ^ "Carrie Severino". Judicial Crisis Network. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  16. ^ Williamson, Elizabeth (October 15, 2020). "With Barrett Nomination, a D.C. Conservative Power Couple Nears Its Dream". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  17. ^ "Carrie Severino". National Review. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  18. ^ Mears, Bill (February 12, 2014). "Analysis: Justice Thomas comments spark fresh debate on race". CNN. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  19. ^ Totenberg, Nina (May 18, 2010). "At Harvard, Kagan Won More Fans Than Foes". NPR. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  20. ^ Meinecke, Elisabeth (February 7, 2012). "ObamaCare at the Supreme Court: What to Expect". Townhall. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  21. ^ de Vogue, Ariane (April 14, 2014). "Little-Known Legal Challenge That Could Torpedo Obamacare". ABC News. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  22. ^ Mencimer, Stephanie (March 19, 2016). "These Right-Wing Groups Are Gearing Up for an Onslaught on Obama's Supreme Court Nominee". Mother Jones. Foundation for National Progress. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Sessa-Hawkins, Margaret; Perez, Andrew (October 24, 2017). "Dark Money Group Received Massive Donation In Fight Against Obama's Supreme Court Nominee". maplight.org. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  24. ^ https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2013/262/046/2013-262046485-0af4ca42-9O.pdf
  25. ^ https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2014/262/046/2014-262046485-0bfe7bdc-9O.pdf
  26. ^ https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2012/262/046/2012-262046485-09d23827-9O.pdf
  27. ^ a b c d e f Politics), Robert Maguire (Center for Responsive. "Judicial Crisis Network 990 2016 2017". www.documentcloud.org. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  28. ^ NW, The Center for Responsive Politics 1300 L. St; Washington, Suite 200; info, DC 20005 telelphone857-0044 (November 21, 2017). "Web of secret money hides one mega-donor funding conservative court". OpenSecrets News. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  29. ^ Cole, Dermot (December 21, 2013). "Begich attack ads a sign of things to come in heated Senate race". Alaska Dispatch News (online ed.). Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  30. ^ Sullivan, Sean (December 2, 2013). "Conservative group hits Landrieu with ad on judicial nominations". Washington Post (online ed.). Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  31. ^ Schulte, Grant. "Nebraska group touts support to stop death penalty repeal". The Big Story. Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 28, 2015. The largest donation in July came from the conservative, Washington-based Judicial Crisis Network, which gave $200,000. Nebraskans for the Death Penalty relied on a combination of paid and volunteer petition circulators, and was aided by an Arizona-based strategist who specializes in ballot campaigns.
  32. ^ "Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission". www.nadc.nebraska.gov. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  33. ^ Everett, Burgess (November 18, 2016). "Judicial Crisis Network already running ads ahead of Trump SCOTUS pick". Politico. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  34. ^ Lovelace, Ryan (November 28, 2016). "Group launches $500K ad campaign praising Trump's SCOTUS pledge". Washington Examiner (online ed.). Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  35. ^ DeBonis, Mike (November 25, 2016). "The fight to confirm Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee starts now". Washington Post (online ed.). Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  36. ^ Weber, Joseph (January 31, 2017). "Conservative group launches $10M campaign to support Trump's Supreme Court pick". FoxNews.com. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  37. ^ Everett, Burgess. "Conservatives plan $10 million high court ad campaign". POLITICO. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  38. ^ Balluck, Kyle (July 23, 2018). "Judicial group launches third ad buy to push Kavanaugh confirmation". TheHill. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  39. ^ https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/464887-watchdog-accuses-pro-kavanaugh-group-of-illegal-robotexts-in-fcc
  40. ^ "Judicial Crisis Network will spend $2.2 million to boost Trump's court pick". www.msn.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  41. ^ Mineiro, Megan (September 22, 2020). "Democrats Condemn Big-Money Campaigns Backing Judicial Nominations". Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  42. ^ "Judicial Crisis Network launches $2.2M ad buy backing Trump Supreme Court pick". Washington Examiner. September 21, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  43. ^ Slodysko | AP, Michael Biesecker and Brian. "Barrett ads tied to interest groups funded by unnamed donors". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  44. ^ Biesecker, Michael; Slodysko, Brian; Press, Associated (October 26, 2020). "Barrett ads tied to interest groups funded by unnamed donors". New Milford Spectrum. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  45. ^ "Barrett ads tied to interest groups funded by unnamed donors". AP NEWS. October 26, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  46. ^ a b "Conservative Group Behind Kavanaugh Confirmation Has Spent Years Reshaping State and Federal Benches | Brennan Center for Justice". www.brennancenter.org. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  47. ^ "Conservative Group Behind Kavanaugh Confirmation Has Spent Years Reshaping State and Federal Benches | Brennan Center for Justice". www.brennancenter.org. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  48. ^ Camia, Catalina (July 15, 2014). "Conservatives blast Chris Christie ahead of Iowa trip" (online ed.). USA Today. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  49. ^ "Judicial Crisis Network". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  50. ^ Overby, Peter (March 17, 2016). "Conservatives Lobby Around Supreme Court Nomination". National Public Radio. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  51. ^ "Republican Attorneys General Assn: Donor Search | OpenSecrets". www.opensecrets.org. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  52. ^ "Republican Attorneys General Assn: Top Contributors, 2018 Cycle | OpenSecrets". www.opensecrets.org. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  53. ^ NW, The Center for Responsive Politics 1300 L. St; Washington, Suite 200; info, DC 20005 telelphone857-0044 (May 17, 2019). "Secretive conservative legal group funded by $17 million mystery donor before Kavanaugh fight". OpenSecrets News. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  54. ^ "$80 million dark money group tied to Trump Supreme Court advisor, Leonard Leo". CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  55. ^ "IRS 990 JEP 2016" (PDF).
  56. ^ "IRS 990 JEP 2017" (PDF).
  57. ^ "IRS 990 JEP 2018" (PDF).

External linksEdit