by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A rapidly growing $800 million dark money network helped anonymous donors pour a record amount of money into voter registration groups focused on increasing Democratic Party turnout ahead of the 2020 election.
The Tides Foundation, an organization that allows left-wing donors to fund political activism anonymously, raised over $800 million across its nonprofit network in 2019, a dramatic rise over previous figures.
Much of that money went to “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) campaigns in the 2020 election cycle, including the Voter Registration Project, Rock the Vote, and the Voter Participation Center, which exploit IRS nonprofit rules to register new voters in Democratic-leaning areas that helped deliver key battleground states to President Joe Biden. The IRS considers voter registration a “charitable” activity for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits, provided it isn’t explicitly partisan.
But when self-identified progressive organizations target Democratic-leaning constituencies in battleground states during election years the effect is anything but nonpartisan. Their tax-deductible funding comes from undisclosed sources on the left and is passed through Tides, which caters strictly to left-wing political groups, and voter registration groups on the left vastly outnumber similar groups on the right. …
… The Voter Registration Project (VRP), which received $850,000 from Tides, targets African-American, Latino, Native American, low-income, and other likely left-leaning constituencies for mobilization. VRP also channels grants to state-based allies doing similar drives, including One Arizona, New Florida Majority, and New Georgia Project, founded by Stacey Abrams, a 2018 gubernatorial candidate and influential Democratic activist.
The Tides Foundation granted another $206,000 to Rock the Vote and its lobbying arm, Rock the Vote Action Fund, which turn out young and far-left voters. Despite claiming to be nonpartisan, Rock the Vote has accused Republicans of fueling “dangerous conspiracy theories and hate.” The group also supports abolishing the Electoral College. Tides has channeled at least $2 million to Rock the Vote since 2006.