by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If it walks like an illegal lobbyist and talks like an illegal lobbyist, it’s probably an illegal lobbyist.
Recent revelations show that the head of Arabella Advisors, the leftist dark money group pulling the strings of the Democratic Party, is directly communicating with the secretary of the Department of Agriculture. These reports raise troubling questions about the Democratic Party’s willingness to outsource policymaking to an unaccountable dark money juggernaut — questions that Democrats in Congress are unwilling to answer.
“Gentlemen- woke up very early this morning thinking about the processing project you are helping to direct and lead,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote in an email to senior department leadership and Eric Kessler, the founder of Arabella Advisors, who is seemingly involved in top policy decisions at Vilsack’s agency.
Kessler, one of the most important figures helping to run the Democratic Party behind the scenes, does not work for Vilsack, although you’d be hard-pressed to realize that based on the extensive and exclusive collaboration between the two. Kessler’s admiration for Vilsack goes back years. In 2017, when Vilsack was leaving the Obama administration, Kessler raved about Vilsack’s record. With Vilsack back in the saddle, Kessler is able to enjoy easy access.
One would think that the close collaboration between the state and a dark money entity should be problematic to Democrats, whose top legislative priorities include getting rid of “dark money” in politics. However, these revelations seem to have fallen on curiously deaf ears in Congress. Perhaps that’s because congressional Democrats similarly have become much too accustomed to outsourcing policymaking to both unelected bureaucrats and their allies in outside groups.
Through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust exposed how this relationship works. APT uncovered that Vilsack has at times completely outsourced the decision-making of his sprawling federal agency to Arabella’s Kessler.