Non-profit

Fix the Court (FTC)

Website:

fixthecourt.com

Location:

BROOKLYN, NY

Tax ID:

86-1840317

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

November 2014

Former Project of:

New Venture Fund

Type:

Left-Wing Judicial Reform Group

Executive Director:

Gabe Roth

Latest Filings:

2021 Amended Form 990

2021 Unredacted Schedule B

2021 Amended Schedule O

2022 Form 990 

2022 Unredacted Schedule B

Fix the Court (FTC) is a left-of-center judicial policy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is a former project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and major funding organization for left-wing organizations characterized as a “dark money outfit”1 which serves as the fiscal sponsor of a number of left-of-center activist groups as part of the multi-billion-dollar “dark money” network administered by Arabella Advisors.2 3 The organization spun off from the New Venture Fund and was awarded its own tax-exempt status in February 2021. 4

Despite advocating for expanded financial disclosure rules for Supreme Court Justices, and criticizing Justice Clarence Thomas for his handling of his own financial disclosures, Fix the Court was caught making false statements to the IRS on its own financial disclosures and underreporting its revenues by at least $240,000, allowing the group to avoid the minimum threshold for the disclosure of board members, expenditures, and employee salaries. 5 Fix the Court has also expressed dismay at the idea of disclosing its own donors, with executive director Gabe Roth telling a reporter, “if their names become public, they’re never going to talk to me again, and Fix the Court is over.” Fix the Court has also been accused of engaging in unreported lobbying activities.6

FTC was created in November 2014 in order to advocate for changes to the U.S. Supreme Court, such as enacting term limits for Supreme Court justices, requiring live video coverage of oral arguments, and pressuring justices to “divest [themselves] from all of their individual conflict-inducing stock holdings” during their judicial service.7 8 9

Although FTC is officially nonpartisan, FTC executive director Gabe Roth has been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court, Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.10 As of 2022, Roth was Fix the Court’s only full time employee, and was paid $160,000. Roth also acts as the organization’s accountant and bookkeeper, even though he has told reporters, “I’m not a good CPA. I’m a klutz.” 11

Following Kavanaugh’s confirmation in October 2018, it was revealed that Fix the Court had purchased two websites in 2015 bearing the Justice’s name—BrettKavanaugh.com and BrettKavanaugh.net—and populated them with links to sexual assault survivor support organizations and left-wing advocacy organizations.12 13 One of the groups, End Rape on Campus, lobbied the U.S. Senate to “stop the nomination process” after uncorroborated allegations of juvenile sexual misconduct emerged against now-Justice Kavanaugh.14

Organizational Overview

For more information, see New Venture Fund (Nonprofit)

Although it became an independent nonprofit in early 2021, Fix the Court was originally created as a project of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit New Venture Fund, an organization that provides major funding to a wide number of left-wing activist groups as well fiscal sponsorship to left-wing organizations which have not yet (or will never) achieve independent standing with the IRS as 501(c)(3) nonprofits. The New Venture Fund has been criticized as a “dark money organization” for serving as a way for left-wing groups to anonymously funnel money towards advocacy issues, such as attacking Republicans or pushing state-level environmental restrictions. It is part of the multi-billion-dollar “dark money” nonprofit network run by Arabella Advisors, a consultancy in Washington, D.C. 15

FTC executive director Gabe Roth admitted during legal proceedings during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process that “Fix the Court is a project of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.” 16 It was also confirmed that FTC’s “[f]unding comes from the nonpartisan New Venture Fund” in a 2014 report by USA Today and during a 2016 interview with C-SPAN journalist and founder Brian Lamb:17 18

Brian Lamb: “How much of your money comes from the New Venture Fund?”

Gabe Roth: “All of it. So there — it’s, you know, there, I have — very happy to have a grant from them and I’m able to, you know, spend it to come to Washington to talk to you and to meet with folks on the Hill and I speak at law schools across the country. I was actually in Iowa a few weeks ago to talk to both presidential candidates and voters about how the Supreme Court is a campaign issue or should be a campaign issue.”

Issues

FTC advocates for reforms to the U.S. Supreme Court along left-wing lines. Specifically, the group seeks to impose a term limit of 18 years upon future Supreme Court justices (a proposal it sent to ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2017, after the inauguration of Republican President Donald Trump), to allow video coverage of oral arguments in the Court, to alter the Supreme Court Code of Ethics, to require justices to establish blind trusts and “divest from all of their individual conflict-inducing stock holdings,” to require justices to “submit consistent, detailed financial disclosure reports each year and publish them online,” and to mandate recordkeeping of every time a sitting justice makes public appearances.19 20 21 22 23 24

Opposition to Supreme Court Nominees

Brett Kavanaugh (2018)

After Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed and sworn into the U.S. Supreme Court on October 6, 2018, it was revealed that the websites BrettKavanaugh.com and BrettKavanaugh.net had been purchased in 2015 by Gabe Roth. 25 Roth, in a statement released on October 9, said that he purchased the websites because he “thought [they] might be useful in any forthcoming Supreme Court confirmation battles.” 26 Roth told the Huffington Post:27

“Watching last night’s White House event and listening to the president again cast doubt on the veracity of Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford’s claims, while not hearing a word of contrition from the newest justice [Brett Kavanaugh], was difficult for many Americans who have experienced sexual misconduct firsthand. Fix the Court stands with you. We believe you and we support you.”

The website provided links to various sexual assault survivors’ support groups as well as the left-wing advocacy group End Rape on Campus, a group that actively opposed the confirmation of Kavanaugh with its website, “Stop Kavanaugh.” 28

In July 2018, FTC announced it had filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration, seeking documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House.29

The lawsuit was filed by lawyers from American Oversight, a left-of-center judicial activist group, who were listed on filings as the counsel for FTC.30 31 American Oversight’s board of directors includes Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society (a left-leaning group that has appeared co-hosted events with FTC), and Kyle Herrig, a director at the New Venture Fund.32 The group has been described by the left-of-center website Mother Jones as a “liberal advocacy group.”33

Neil Gorsuch (2017)

In February 2017, FTC filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice “for access to records from Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s tenure as deputy assistant attorney general.” 34 Roth said:

“Little is known about Judge Gorsuch’s tenure at the Justice Department, but he served during a tumultuous stretch, at a time when agency attorneys were believed to be giving legal advice in support of warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and in the run-up to the infamous dismissal of U.S. attorneys for partisan reasons.”

Controversies

False Financial Disclosures and Leaked Donors

In May 2023, Fix the Court faced criticism for panicking after accidentally releasing unredacted copies of the organization’s financial statements to reporters, and for failing to file financial disclosures properly with the IRS.

Reporters with the Washington Examiner initially contacted Fix the Court seeking clarification on the conflicting records of Fix the Court, which reported less than $50,000 in revenues during 2021, and the New Venture Fund, which reported granting Fix the Court $111,000 in 2021. 35 When asked why Fix the Court did not file a form 990 in 2021, executive director Gabe Roth claimed he “misunderstood the filing instructions” and that he had mailed corrected filings to the IRS after being informed of the error. 36 Roth then sent unredacted copies of Fix the Court’s form 990 for the fiscal years 2021 and 2022 to the Washington Examiner containing a full list of the organization’s donors, also known as a Schedule B.

IRS Form 990 is a document filed by nonprofit organizations to provide financial transparency to the public, but the IRS does not legally require Fix the Court to publicly disclose the names and addresses of its contributors. The Schedule B’s mistakenly provided to the Washington Examiner revealed that Fix the Court’s donors included the New Venture Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Weinberg McCann Foundation, and the Lebowitz Aberly Family Foundation. 37

In response to accidentally disclosing Fix the Court’s donors, Roth emailed the Examiner saying ” “S***, I’m not legally allowed to send you those. I really messed up. Can you call me now?” Roth also asked the Washington Examiner not to publish the forms because Fix the Court’s donors “don’t want their names out there,” and said that “ if their names become public, they’re never going to talk to me again, and Fix the Court is over. My screwup this morning probably cost me my job.” Roth also described himself as a “klutz” and asserted that he is not “a good CPA”. 38

Fix the Court’s new filings for 2021 and 2022 indicated that the group raised $290,159 in 2021 and $195,512 in 2022. The filings also showed that Roth was also the organization’s only accountant, bookkeeper, and full-time employee. Despite the year-over-year decrease in revenues, Roth’s total salary increased from $79,746 to $162,138 in 2022. The documents also revealed Fix the Court’s previously undisclosed board members included Michelle Kuppersmith, executive director of the left-leaning Campaign for Accountability a nonprofit watch-dog group, Joshua Cohen of New Heights Communications, and Rebecca Rosenfield whose exact identity is unclear.

Following the report multiple Republican Senators publicly criticized Fix the Court. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote that “The “dark money” group unfairly attacking Justice Thomas just got caught with its pants down.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote of Fix the Court’s executive director Gabe Roth that “This guy is just mad that now we know the identities of some of the people who are trying to delegitimize the Supreme Court and are funding parts of the smear campaign against Justice Thomas.” 39

IRS Complaint

In June 2023, following the Washington Examiner’s reporting on Fix the Court’s financial disclosure issues, the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center filed an IRS complaint against Fix the Court arguing that Fix the Court’s tax-exempt status should be revoked because of a lack of transparency and excessive salary payments to executive director Gabe Roth made in 2022.40 The complaint pointed out that Roth’s salary of $167,000 accounted for “a whopping 82% of the nonprofit’s total revenue” and was two times larger than his salary in 2021, despite a decrease in the organization’s revenues.  According to the National Legal and Policy Center’s complaint, Roth’s excessive salary “[constituted] an Excessive Benefit Transaction (EBT),” requiring the recipient to pay “an excessive benefit tax of 25%.” The complaint also stated that Fix the Court’s board members might also be held responsible for the alleged excess benefit transaction because Fix the Court did not have a process in place for “independent persons” to review and approve executive compensation. National Legal and Policy Center’s counsel, Paul Kamenar, told reporters that “Fix the Court is in need of fixing itself,” and that “the compensation to its executive director, Gabe Roth, of $167,000, is over 80% of their revenue and double what he was paid in 2021. The IRS should revoke their tax-exempt status or impose a tax on Roth and the board of directors for the excess benefit.”

Misleading Claims about Donors

In April 2022, executive director Gabe Roth appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal to discuss Fix the Court’s efforts to increase scrutiny of Supreme Court justices. At the start of the interview Washington Journal host Pedro Echevarria, asked Roth to tell the audience about Fix the Court’s missions and the source of its financial backing. Roth told Echevarria that “we’re funded by average Americans just giving us funds who think that, uh, you know, that… that  we’re doing a good job. 41 42 According to their unredacted 2021 and 2022 Schedule B’s, Fix the Court received the vast majority of its funding in the form of large contributions from New Venture Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Weinberg McCann Foundation, and the Lebowitz Aberly Family Foundation. Less than $15,000 worth of Fix the Court’s funding during that time came from unlisted small donations.

Alleged Lobbying Violations

In July 2023, Gabe Kaminsky of the Washington Examiner reported that legal experts were concerned Fix the Court may have engaged in illicit lobbying activities without properly reporting them on its IRS Form 990. 43 According to the report, Fix the Court’s archived website from 2021 and 2022 featured “numerous examples” of blog posts in which FTC promoted pieces of legislation and “urged the public to demand lawmakers adopt certain measures.” Gary Lawkowski, an attorney for the Dhillon Law Group which specializes in nonprofit and campaign finance law, to the Examiner that “Several of [FTC’s] communications from 2021 and 2022 appear to be classic grassroots lobbying campaigns, proposing legislative solutions and urging the public to contact their legislators to adopt their preferred measures.”
On its 2021 and 2022 IRS form 990’s FTC checked the “no” box on the question of whether the organization had engaged in lobbying that year. 44

Leadership

Executive Director

Gabe Roth is the founding executive director of Fix the Court, a position he has held since the group was created in November 2014. Prior to FTC, Roth served as a reporter, vice president of SKDKnickerbocker (a left-leaning political consulting firm), and in various press and communications roles for the New York State Department of State.45

References

  1.  Markay, Lachlan. “Over 100 Left-Wing Groups Sourced to DC Dark Money Outfit.” Washington Free Beacon. October 22, 2015. Accessed January 08, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/issues/over-100-left-wing-groups-sourced-to-d-c-dark-money-outfit/.
  2. “FOIA to DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy on Kavanaugh Memos and E-mails.” Fix the Court. July 24, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/2018/07/foia-dojs-office-legal-policy-kavanaugh-memos-e-mails/.
  3. Wolf, Richard. “At Supreme Court, Secretiveness Attracts Snoops.” Fix the Court. November 12, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/12/supreme-court-powerful-accountable-fix/18872209/.
  4. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2022/03/FinalLetter_86-1840317_FIXTHECOURT_02032021_00.tif
  5. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘Transparency’ Charity Director Panics over IRS Donor Leak: ‘I Just F***ed up.’” Washington Examiner, May 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-dark-money-group-leaked-fix-court-clarence-thomas.
  6. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘ethics’ Group Likely Failed to Disclose Lobbying, Experts Say.” Washington Examiner, July 27, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/fix-the-court-supreme-court-ethics-lobbying-disclosure.
  7. “Media and Public Access.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/media-and-public-access/.
  8. “Term Limits.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/term-limits/.
  9. “Stocks and Recusals.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/blind-trusts-and-recusals/.
  10. Mencimer, Stephanie. “Judicial Watchdogs Are in Court to Make Brett Kavanaugh’s Entire Record Public.” Mother Jones. July 18, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/07/judicial-watchdogs-are-in-court-to-make-brett-kavanaughs-entire-record-public/.
  11. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘Transparency’ Charity Director Panics over IRS Donor Leak: ‘I Just F***ed up.’” Washington Examiner, May 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-dark-money-group-leaked-fix-court-clarence-thomas.
  12. Black, Shelby. “Fix The Court Bought Brett Kavanaugh’s Name As A Website To Help Sexual Assault Survivors.” Elite Daily. October 10, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/fix-the-court-bought-brett-kavanaughs-name-as-a-website-to-help-sexual-assault-survivors-12209794.
  13. “Statement on BrettKavanaugh.com.” Fix the Court. October 9, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/2018/10/kavanaughurl/.
  14. “Stop Kavanaugh.” End Rape on Campus. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://endrapeoncampus.org/stop-kavanaugh/.
  15. Markay, Lachan. “Over 100 Left-Wing Groups Sourced to DC Dark Money Outfit.” Washington Free Beacon. October 22, 2015. Accessed February 18, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/over-100-left-wing-groups-sourced-to-d-c-dark-money-outfit/
  16. “FOIA to DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy on Kavanaugh Memos and E-mails.” Fix the Court. July 24, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/2018/07/foia-dojs-office-legal-policy-kavanaugh-memos-e-mails/.
  17. Wolf, Richard. “At Supreme Court, Secretiveness Attracts Snoops.” Fix the Court. November 12, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/12/supreme-court-powerful-accountable-fix/18872209/.
  18. “Q&A with Gabe Roth.” C-SPAN. March 1, 2016. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.c-span.org/video/?405764-1/qa-gabe-roth.
  19. “Letter to Congress on the Regularization of Supreme Court Appointments Act of 2017.” Fix the Court. June 29, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/2017/06/tlproposal/.
  20. “Media and Public Access.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/media-and-public-access/.
  21. “Code of Ethics.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/code-of-ethics/.
  22. “Stocks and Recusals.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/blind-trusts-and-recusals/.
  23. “Financial Disclosures.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/financial-disclosures/.
  24. “Public Appearances.” Fix the Court. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/fix/public-appearrances/.
  25. “We Believe Survivors.” BrettKavanaugh.com. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.brettkavanaugh.com/.
  26. “Statement on BrettKavanaugh.com.” Fix the Court. October 9, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://fixthecourt.com/2018/10/kavanaughurl/.
  27. Moran, Lee. “Brett Kavanaugh Didn’t Buy His URL. It’s Now A Resource For Sexual Assault Survivors.” Huffington Post. October 10, 2018. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brett-kavanaugh-website-domain-name-sexual-assault-survivors_us_5bbda0cde4b01470d056d477.
  28. “Stop Kavanaugh.” End Rape on Campus. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://endrapeoncampus.org/stop-kavanaugh/.
  29. Bolt, Allison. “Nonpartisan Watchdog Group Sues Two Government Agencies for Brett Kavanaugh’s Records.” Paste. July 12, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/07/nonpartisan-watchdog-group-sues-for-trump-administ.html.
  30. Fix the Court v. U.S. Department of Justice (UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA July 10, 2018).
  31. “LITIGATION UPDATE: FIX THE COURT AND AMERICAN OVERSIGHT SECURE PRODUCTION SCHEDULES FOR KAVANAUGH RECORDS.” American Oversight. July 26, 2018. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.americanoversight.org/watchdog-seeks-injunctions-to-force-release-of-kavanaugh-records-before-senate-vote.
  32. “Board.” American Oversight. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.americanoversight.org/board.
  33. Mencimer, Stephanie. “Judicial Watchdogs Are in Court to Make Brett Kavanaugh’s Entire Record Public.” Mother Jones. July 18, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/07/judicial-watchdogs-are-in-court-to-make-brett-kavanaughs-entire-record-public/.
  34. Lovelace, Ryan. “Fix the Court sues DOJ for access to Neil Gorsuch’s records.”. Washington Examiner. February 24, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/fix-the-court-sues-doj-for-access-to-neil-gorsuchs-records.
  35. https://capitalresearch.org/article/fix-the-court-may-have-financial-disclosure-problems/.
  36. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘Transparency’ Charity Director Panics over IRS Donor Leak: ‘I Just F***ed up.’” Washington Examiner, May 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-dark-money-group-leaked-fix-court-clarence-thomas.
  37. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘Transparency’ Charity Director Panics over IRS Donor Leak: ‘I Just F***ed up.’” Washington Examiner, May 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-dark-money-group-leaked-fix-court-clarence-thomas.
  38. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘Transparency’ Charity Director Panics over IRS Donor Leak: ‘I Just F***ed up.’” Washington Examiner, May 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-dark-money-group-leaked-fix-court-clarence-thomas.
  39. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘transparency’ Group Hammered by Judiciary GOP over IRS Donor Blunder.” Washington Examiner, May 18, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/judiciary-gop-rebukes-fix-the-court-after-leak.
  40. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Liberal Dark Money-Linked Supreme Court Group Slapped with IRS Complaint.” Washington Examiner, June 2, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-fix-court-irs-complaint-clarence-thomas.
  41. “Washington Journal: Gabe Roth Discusses the Push for Supreme Court Code of Ethics.” C. Accessed July 7, 2023. https://www.c-span.org/video/?519247-6%2Fgabe-roth-push-supreme-court-code-ethics.
  42. Whitlock, Matt. “Old Enough to Remember When @gabe_roth Told C-Span Arabella Advisor’s Project @FixTheCourt Was Funded by ‘Average Americans.’ Turns out It’s Funded by a Small Group of Billionaires out to Destroy Clarence Thomas. Https://T.Co/2gyyybthes Pic.Twitter.Com/Pj0d5deyk2.” Twitter, May 17, 2023. https://twitter.com/mattdizwhitlock/status/1658948314350354434?s=20.
  43. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘ethics’ Group Likely Failed to Disclose Lobbying, Experts Say.” Washington Examiner, July 27, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/fix-the-court-supreme-court-ethics-lobbying-disclosure.
  44. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Supreme Court ‘ethics’ Group Likely Failed to Disclose Lobbying, Experts Say.” Washington Examiner, July 27, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/fix-the-court-supreme-court-ethics-lobbying-disclosure.
  45. “Profile: Gabe Roth.” LinkedIn. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabe-roth-2455264/.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Gabe Roth
    Executive Director
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: February - January
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2021

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    Fix the Court (FTC)

    348 4TH AVE 1007
    BROOKLYN, NY 11215-2718