Republican megadonors raise money for legal fight

New Yorkers cast ballots for the November 2 general and municipal elections in New York City on November 02, 2021.

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Republican megadonors are aiming to raise up to $3 million to fund a legal challenge to Congress’ new map of New York after the state’s recent redistricting.

A two page note, first reviewed by CNBC and sent to financiers by former Republican New York State President Ed Cox and former Rep. John Faso, RN.Y., encourages wealthy donors to help raise the gargantuan sum for the lawsuit. It was filed in Steuben County State Supreme Court nearly two weeks ago.

Lead trial counsel Misha Tseytlin is expected to participate in a virtual meeting on Friday for donors interested in “learning more about this effort and want to help defeat Democrats’ unconstitutional efforts to gerrymander New York’s congressional districts,” according to an invite reviewed by CNBC.

The effort comes after the state Legislature approved new district lines that could give Democrats a boost in the fight for control of Congress for the next decade.

The memo itself encourages financiers to donate to one of two separate redistricting-focused groups, the National Republican Redistricting Trust and the Fair Lines America Foundation, which could also help with the legal challenge.

Both are black money organizations that do not publicly disclose their donors. The Fair Lines America Foundation has previously been funded by the influential Bradley Foundation and the Donors Trust. The fundraising memo explains that, if donors are interested in giving to these groups, their contributions will remain anonymous.

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Litigation challenging the new map in state and federal courts could cost “one and a half million to three million dollars,” the fundraising pitch says.

Cox said opponents of district lines are raising what he calls “private funds” to fund the legal fight.

“The Albany Democrats used taxpayer money to violate the New York Constitution with extreme partisan gerrymander to cement their power for the next decade. We are raising private funds to support the State Constitution and thwart the Democrats’ power play,” Cox said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Wednesday.

Faso and Tseytlin did not respond to requests for comment.

The fundraising effort accelerated after New York Governor Kathy Hochul approved a new congressional map that will likely give Democrats a massive advantage in future elections. The state Legislature previously approved the redesigned map, which would give Democrats an advantage in 22 of 26 districts in the upcoming election, according to the Associated Press.

Republicans now hold eight of New York’s 27 seats.

Republican-led trial says “this Court should strike down Congress’s unconstitutional map” and repeatedly suggests that it is a form of gerrymandering. The practice is to draw district boundaries for one party’s benefit, and has been a common grievance as Democratic and GOP-led states redraw their maps after the 2020 census.

The two-page memo illustrates the significant Republican financial effort behind the legal maneuver, which could have huge stakes for the political fortunes of both parties.

Before launching how to finance such a legal fight, the document describes how the new district lines could affect the GOP.

“Maps produced by the Democratic-led New York State Legislature will likely reduce New York’s GOP congressional delegation from eight to four. If successful, New York Democrats will have produced a significant gain in President Pelosi’s goal of maintaining her majority in the U.S. House,” the document says.

While it’s unclear who plans to contribute to this effort, Cox and Faso and the groups mentioned in the fundraising proposal have ties to wealthy financiers.

Cox helped former President Donald Trump raise money for his 2020 run for the White House. Although Trump ended up losing the election and New York State to President Joe Biden, the former candidate has raised more than $20 million from Empire State donors, according to data from the Center for Non-partisan Responsive Politics. Trump’s campaign raised more than $700 million during the 2020 election cycle.

Faso, who ran for office in 2018 but lost to Democrat Antonio Delgado, has raised more than $3 million for his congressional campaign. Between its campaign committee and its leadership political action committee, Faso has seen a plethora of contributions from business leaders and corporate PACs.

Records show that Faso’s previous major donors are Dan Loeb, CEO of investment firm Third Point, businessman Ronald Lauder and members of the wealthy Tisch family. Corporate PACs that have backed Faso include those of MetLife, AT&T and Citigroup, according to CRP data.

The National Republican Redistricting Trust is an outside entity that does not publicly disclose its donors. It bills itself as a group that “focuses on the unique legal and data requirements of redistricting and coordinates a nationwide redistricting strategy with state and national committees of the Republican Party and conservative organizations across the country. “.

It was created to counter a similar organization run by allies of former President Barack Obama, such as former Attorney General Eric Holder.

The NRRT announced last year that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both Republicans, would serve as its co-chairs. A longtime Republican political strategist, Karl Rove is a senior adviser.

Adam Kincaid, president and executive director of NRRT, pointed to Pompeo and Christie’s fundraising ability as a boost for the organization.

“Secretary Pompeo and Governor Christie will be tremendous assets as we mobilize the resources necessary to fight attempts by the left to sue blue,” he said at the time, referring to the fight against efforts. Democrats to gain an advantage on the legislative map.

The Fair Lines America Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which also does not publicly disclose who its donors are.

“The Fair Lines America Foundation educates the public about fair and legal redistricting through comprehensive data collection, processing, and deployment; dissemination of relevant news and information; and strategic investments in academic research and litigation “, says the group’s website.

Although the group does not release its donors, conservative nonprofits have regularly funded it, according to 990 Disclosure Reports. The Bradley Foundation, based in Milwaukee and known for funding a wave of conservative causes, donated $100,000 to the Fair Lines America Foundation in 2019, according to its disclosure report.

The donation is labeled on the record as funding “to support start-up activity”. The redistricting group raised more than $1 million that year, according to his latest public disclosure report.

The Donors Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization that conservative megadonors regularly use to fund the groups they serve, donated just over $1.4 million to the Fair Lines America Foundation in 2020, according to their group’s Form 990. The foundation’s record of 990 for 2020 has not been made public.

The New York primaries are scheduled for late June.

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