Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Got a Big Boost From a Mysterious Individual Donation of $15.9 Million

When Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court was under fire, a dark money group called Judicial Crisis Network came to his aid. According to recently obtained documents, more than half of JCN's funding came from one mysterious, unnamed donor who gave $15.9 million towards the effort.

The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States / Wikimedia Commons

The conservative dark money group that led the fight to install Brett Kavanaugh on the US Supreme Court received nearly $16 million from a single mystery donor, according to IRS documents we recently obtained.

The documents show that the  (JCN) received a total of nearly $30 million of donations in between July 2018 and June 2019 — the period that covered Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation. In addition to the $15.9 million donation from a single donor, the group received five other seven-figure donations from anonymous sources.

JCN financed millions of dollars of ads promoting Kavanaugh. The new tax documents show the organization paid more than $12.3 million to a media buying firm during the tax year. Those documents also show that the organization funneled money to a number of other conservative groups that backed Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Those include $1 million to the National Rifle Association and $600,000 to One Nation, which both aired ads supporting Kavanaugh.

JCN does not disclose its donors. The group is closely linked with Trump’s top judicial adviser Leonard Leo, the longtime executive vice president of the Federalist Society, which is an influential Washington-based legal network for conservatives and libertarians. JCN paid nearly $1.2 million to BH Group LLC, a company affiliated with Leo.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation was hardly a sure thing — he not only had what critics called an extreme judicial record, he also faced sexual assault accusations from Stanford professor Christine Blasey Ford, as well as questions about his personal finances. The well-funded campaign behind him was pivotal in overcoming those controversies and pressuring lawmakers to approve his nomination.

Kavanaugh replaced swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy — and since he has joined the court, he has provided a reliably conservative vote on close 5-4 rulings. Most recently, he wrote the opinion for a 5-4 ruling that helps prevent workers from suing over allegations that Wall Street firms have bilked their retirement systems.

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Andrew Perez is a writer and researcher living in Maine.

David Sirota is editor-at-large at Jacobin. He edits the Too Much Information newsletter and previously served as a senior adviser and speechwriter on Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign.

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