Incorporation filings reveal new details of ‘dark money’ group paying millions in 2022 midterms – OpenSecrets
Documents obtained by OpenSecrets shed new light on the mysterious “dark money” group Defending America Together, which contributed millions of dollars from undisclosed donors to recent midterm elections in Pennsylvania and Alabama.
According to a certificate of incorporation obtained by OpenSecrets, Erick Todd used a personal mailbox address in San Juan, Puerto Rico to incorporate Defending America Together, Inc. in Lewes, Del.
Defending America Together was incorporated on January 10, 2022 as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization formed and operated exclusively for the “promotion of social welfare”. These groups are generally not required to disclose their donors and their “main” purpose is not supposed to be political activities.
Defending America Together did not announce any welfare activities, but a company of the same name paid $5 million to big-spending super PACs in the Alabama and Pennsylvania primaries. Three itemized receipts filed with the FEC list Defending America Together’s address as a PO Box address at a UPS store in Phoenix, Arizona.
According to the certificate of incorporation, Defending America Together has no members, share capital, or shareholders, but it does have a board of directors that exercises “[t]full voting power for all purposes. In Delaware, individuals can incorporate a corporation without disclosing the names of members, officers, or, in this case, the board of directors.
Todd listed an address at Miramar Plaza in San Juan to incorporate Defending America Together. The document states that Todd “may work remotely from his residence in Puerto Rico,” but the nature of his work or position within the group is unclear.
After Todd incorporated Defending America Together, Harvard Business Services Inc. became the registered agent for the new company. Harvard Business Services “has been training Delaware businesses for over 40 years,” according to their website. They also boast the lowest registered agency fees in the industry at just $50.
Harvard Business Services President Michael Bell confirmed that the company is the registered agent for Defending America Together, but told OpenSecrets that he “is not aware of any of the business activities of this company and that we have no other affiliation with it other than being the registered agent”. in Delaware.
Spending black money in Alabama and Pennsylvania
Defending America Together has made three contributions totaling $5 million since January.
On January 20, 10 days after Todd incorporated the group, Defending America Together made their first contribution. The group donated $1 million to America’s Promise, and it donated an additional $1 million to the super PAC on March 9. America’s Promise paid more than $3.1 million to the Alabama Patriots PAC, another super PAC backing Michael Durant in the Alabama Senate GOP primary on Tuesday.
Defending America Together is the top contributor to America’s Promise, which also used a UPS PO box, this one in Arlington, Virginia, to register with the FEC and make contributions. America’s Promise Treasurer Jacob Harriman is also the founder and CEO of More Perfect Union, a group that aims to elect moderate senators from both parties. More Perfect Union also listed the UPS Arlington store as its primary office address, according to the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s entity registration.
Three-quarters of the total $4.2 million disbursed by America’s Promise so far in the 2022 election cycle has gone to the Alabama Patriots PAC.
Durant lost the primary, but not before the Alabama Patriots PAC pumped nearly $4.3 million into media production and placement to support him and another $363,000 against key Republican opponents. , Rep. Mo Brooks (R–Ala.) and Katie Britt. Brooks and Britt will compete in a runoff on June 21.
On March 15, Defending America Together donated $3 million to the Pennsylvania Conservative Fund, which spent $3 million against famed doctor Mehmet Oz in the contentious Pennsylvania Senate GOP primary.
The Pennsylvania Conservative Fund raised $3.5 million ahead of the primary. The remaining $500,000 came from billionaire investor Thomas Tull.
Pennsylvania’s Senate primary race was subject to an automatic recount on Wednesday, with less than 1,000 votes separating Oz and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick, a slim margin than a few million more dollars in the media and direct mail funded by the outside spend group could have impacted.
Defending America Together provided a PO Box address at a UPS store in Phoenix, Arizona when making these contributions in Alabama and Pennsylvania. “If you’re a business owner,” the UPS Store website explains, “having a real street address as your mailbox can give your business a professional image.”
A representative of the listed UPS store was unable to provide the name of the person who registered the Arizona mailbox citing US postal regulations.
“About half or more of our box holders are businesses, we just sort their mail,” the store’s rep told OpenSecrets.
Anna Massoglia, Editorial and Investigations Manager, contributed to this report.