Conservative nonprofit group takes aim at billionaire quietly bankrolling left-wing causes

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Conservative nonprofit group takes aim at billionaire quietly bankrolling left-wing causes

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A conservative nonprofit organization is taking aim at former Enron executive John Arnold in a new TV ad over the billionaire quietly funding criminal justice reform and a healthcare group pushing the Democrat-led equity agenda.

The ad, titled “John Arnold: Fount of Bad Ideas,” was released Wednesday by Americans for Limited Government. It tells viewers to “watch out” for Arnold, who, through his limited liability corporation Arnold Ventures, has steered millions toward those pushing left-leaning bail reform in New York and The National Academy for State Health Policy, a healthcare group that calls itself “nonpartisan” but supports left-leaning policies.

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“America’s criminals have a secret benefactor, John Arnold,” says the ad, which is running in six states. “Arnold got filthy rich off Enron. It bankrupted people, turned off their lights. With his dirty money, John Arnold’s not just hanging around financial crooks. He’s helping violent criminals.”

“Arnold spent millions eliminating cash bail,” the ad continues. “His policies are so good for the bad guys even New York liberals are rolling them back. A career helping crooks. Now John Arnold is funding radical healthcare groups. Watch out.”

Arnold Ventures has given more than $45 million to groups in New York working on criminal justice reform, according to grants in the company’s database. In 2019 alone, Arnold and his wife, Laura Arnold, shelled out roughly $40 million for bail reform initiatives, records show.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a 2019 law that stripped cash bail for most nonviolent felony and misdemeanor charges — but critics have charged that the law led to a crime surge in the Empire State. Since 2016, Arnold Ventures has donated over $13 million to the Vera Justice Institute, a left-wing nonprofit group that supported the 2019 Cuomo law.

A spokesman for Arnold Ventures told the Washington Examiner that the LLC is a “nonpartisan organization that seeks evidence-based solutions to America’s biggest problems.”

“Our work often attracts the ire of special interest groups who seek to polarize, divide and confuse,” said the spokesman. “We welcome the mysterious donors we have been told are funding this front group to reach out to us directly to have a serious and civil discussion about how we can work together toward a better America.”

Arnold Ventures also donated over $2 million to the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal group that defended Cuomo’s bail reform law amid critics slamming it for the state’s violent crime uptick. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal nonprofit group and public policy institute, received at least $1.6 million from Arnold Ventures. The center has similarly defended the Cuomo law.

“There is no clear connection between recent crime increases and the bail reform law enacted in 2019, and the data does not currently support further revisions to the legislation,” the Brennan Center said in March.

Arnold Ventures, which used to be The Laura and John Arnold 501(c)(3) Foundation until January 2019, gives to a variety of initiatives, including those related to electoral reform, education, and academic research.

Among healthcare groups, The National Academy for State Health Policy has received over $7.8 million from Arnold Ventures, records show. NASHP seeks to expand Obamacare subsidies and for decades was run by Trisha Riley, a former Democratic operative who has donated over $50,000 to Democratic campaigns since 1992, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

NASHP has called for state government in the U.S. to “advance health equity.” Health equity, a policy pushed by Democrats and left-leaning groups, has been criticized by Republicans as discriminatory since it often entails mandatory race-based training and affirmative action measures.

“Americans for Limited Government will continue to alert the American people about how Arnold is spending his misguided millions on radical ideas,” said Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning in a statement.

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Arnold Ventures has also notably given about $8.5 million to the New Venture Fund since 2016, records show. The New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, is the largest group in a network run by Arabella Advisors, a Washington, D.C., consulting company that has been dubbed a “dark money” network.

Arnold Ventures did not respond to a request for comment.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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