Groups bankrolled by major left-of-center charitable foundations are reportedly preparing to obstruct a potential second Trump administration.

Organizations including Protect Democracy, the Institution for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) at Georgetown University and Democracy Forward, are part of a loose alliance preparing legal action to block Trump from taking certain executive actions if he takes office, according to NBC News. These organizations are backed by influential liberal institutions, like George Soros’ philanthropic empire, a Daily Caller News Foundation review found.

The organizations fear that Trump may use the armed forces to act undemocratically if elected, according to NBC News. To address this, they seek to limit his potential influence over the executive branch.

“We are preparing for litigation and preparing to use every tool in the toolbox that our democracy provides to provide the American people an ability to fight back,” Skye Perryman, president of Democracy Forward, told NBC News.

The details shared with the press regarding the groups’ plans were vague, only mentioning preparation for litigation, drafting letters to influence possible Trump appointees and conducting research on what a second Trump term may look like. The coalition wants to “challenge Trump from day one,” according to NBC News.

The outlet reports that alliance members are “studying Trump’s past actions and 2024 policy positions so that they will be ready if he wins in November,” adding that some “participants are combing through policy papers being crafted for a future conservative administration” and “watching the interviews that Trump allies are giving to the press for clues.”

Protect Democracy, ICAP and Democracy Forward are all bankrolled by left-wing megadonors.

Philanthropies tied to George Soros, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and other left-wing megadonors have poured millions into Protect Democracy since 2017.

Protect Democracy refers to the joint efforts between the 501(c)(3) Protect Democracy Project and the 501(c)(4) group United to Protect Democracy, according to the organization’s website.

501(c)(3) organizations can engage in advocacy and education, but are limited in how much they can directly spend on political activities. 501(c)(4)s, meanwhile, have greater license to engage in explicitly political activism.

Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society gave $650,000 to the Protect Democracy Project between 2018 and 2021, according to a grant database. Soros’ Open Society Policy Center, meanwhile, gave over $1 million to United to Protect Democracy between 2017 and 2020.

United to Protect Democracy and the Protect Democracy Project also received funding from Omidyar’s philanthropic network.

Omidyar is a primary funder and founder of Democracy Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial backing for various left-of-center causes, according to tax forms. He has also funded past efforts to fight Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and to oppose Trump.

The Protect Democracy Project has received $3.8 million from Democracy Fund since 2017tax documents show.

Democracy Fund Voice, a 501(c)(4) organization founded and funded entirely by Omidyar, gave United to Protect Democracy roughly $1.3 million between 2017 and 2022.

Similarly, the John Pritzker Family Fund gave the Protect Democracy Project $700,000 between 2019 and 2022.

John Pritzker is the chairman of the John Pritzker Family Fund.  The Pritzker family is one of the nation’s wealthiest and deeply connected to the world of liberal politics.

John’s cousin, J.B. Pritzker, serves as the Democratic governor of Illinois while another one of his cousins, Penny Pritzker, has held high-ranking posts in both the Obama and Biden administrations.

Mark Heising and Elizabeth Simons, who are married, have donated nearly $10 million to Democrats since 2022, campaign finance records show. Their philanthropy, the Heising-Simons Foundation, poured $500,000 into the Protect Democracy Project in 2022, according to tax documents.

Simons serves as the chair of the foundation’s board and Heising as a vice chair.

Democracy Forward, like Protect Democracy, has both a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4) organization under its umbrella. The two organizations share a website and a staff page.

Democracy Forward Foundation, the 501(c)(3), pulled in $200,000 from Omidyar’s Democracy Fund and $10,000 from Hopewell Fund in 2022, tax forms show. Omidyar provides almost all of Democracy Fund’s cash, according to tax forms.

One of Democracy Forward’s largest backers has been the Sandler Foundation.

The Sandler Foundation was established in 1991 by Herb and Marion Sandler, financial industry billionaires who contributed $1.3 billion to the philanthropy. Since then, tax forms show that the Sandler Foundation has given millions to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Campaign Legal Center, which have consistently launched anti-Trump litigation.

The Democracy Forward Foundation received $11 million from the Sandler Foundation between 2018 and 2021, tax documents show.

Democracy Forward’s links to the left go beyond funding.

Marc Elias, one of America’s most prolific Democratic lawyers, and Ron Klain, President Joe Biden’s former chief of staff, both sit on Democracy Forward’s board, according to the organization’s website.

John Podesta, former Clinton administration chief of staff and chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, sat on the Democracy Forward Foundation’s board until at least June 2022, according to tax forms.

Some groups involved in the anti-Trump shadow campaign don’t disclose their donors.

The New Venture Fund and the Hopewell Fund, organizations within a dark money network managed by liberal consultancy Arabella Advisors, collectively gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Protect Democracy between 2020 and 2020, tax filings show.

There’s also a clear partisan tilt to this budding anti-Trump resistance. The chair of ICAP’s board, Mamoon Hamid, has donated nearly $50,000 to Democrats since 2017, according to FEC records. The institution’s vice chair, Stewart Butterfield, has given over $100,000 to Democrats since 2017, FEC records show.

Mary DeRosa, an Obama administration alumna and another ICAP board member, has given nearly $40,000 to Democrats since 2016, according to the FEC.

Leadership at United to Protect Democracy and Democracy Forward have also donated thousands to Democrats, FEC records show.

Ian Bassin, co-founder and executive director of United to Protect Democracy, donated more than $2,400 to Democrats and Democrat-aligned PACs between 2016 and 2023, according to FEC records. Bassin also served as associate White House counsel during the Obama administration.

ICAP’s leadership isn’t all Democrats, however; Mickey Edwards, who serves on the board, was a Republican member of Congress for 16 years, according to his Georgetown bio. Edwards left the Republican Party in 2021, however, saying it had become a “cult” under Trump, Business Insider reported.

“We’re already starting to put together a team to think through the most damaging types of things that [Trump] might do so that we’re ready to bring lawsuits if we have to,” ICAP’s executive director Mary McCord told NBC News.

Democracy Forward, ICAP and Protect Democracy didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Robert Schmad on January 18, 2024

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