Non-profit

North Fund

Tax ID:

83-4011547

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

The North Fund is a left-of-center nonprofit based in Washington, D.CThe Fund operates as an umbrella group for various left-of-center advocacy organizations and has spent millions to promote causes including expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court (known as “packing the court”), abolishing the Electoral College, legalizing recreational marijuana, opposing a 22-week abortion ban, expanding Medicaid, and making Washington, D.C. a state. The group has been characterized as “dark money” for its ballot-measure funding.[1]

The North Fund is registered as a lobbyist principal in Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. After a complaint in 2020, the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices’ Office (COPP) determined the North Fund’s primary purpose as an organization is to support or oppose election related issues.

Background

The North Fund was incorporated as a nonprofit on December 28, 2018. [2] As of late 2020, it had no website and listed a physical address in Washington, D.C. that is managed by Carr Workplaces, a co-working space. A receptionist with Carr told a Montana newspaper that the North Fund is not on the company’s registry, though Carr allows customers to use the location as a street address to conduct virtual office business. [3]

North Fund leadership includes a number of former Democratic officials, including Melanie Beller, a former aide to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Jim Gerstein, a former Democratic pollster; and Cristina Uribe, a Democratic Party organizer and labor union organizer with the National Education Association.[4] [5]

Zabawa v. North Fund

In October 2020, Steve Zabawa, Treasurer of the anti-marijuana legalization group Wrong for Montana, filed a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices’ Office alleging that the North Fund was incorrectly registered in Montana as an incidental political committee but qualifies as an independent committee. Zabawa argues that for this reason, it should have to reveal its donors.[6]

COPP Commissioner Jeff Mangan reached out to the North Fund for additional information in response to the complaint. The request was to help the COPP to determine if the North Fund’s main purpose is to support or oppose ballot issues, which would make it an independent committee and have to disclose its donors.[7]

In response to the Commissioner’s request for additional information, the North Fund provided a letter including financial disclosures, and claimed, in 2020, 10 percent of its expenditures went to ballot committees in Montana, 30 percent went towards ballot measures in total, and that the remaining amount of its expenditures were unrelated to elections. The letter also stated the North Fund’s purpose, to include, “promoting social welfare, including, but not limited to, providing public education on and conducting advocacy regarding progressive policies.”[8]

Commissioner Mangan ultimately concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” for a Finding and Decision to institute a civil fine or prosecution of the North Fund and referred the case to the County Attorney of Lewis and Clark County to consider prosecution. In making his decision, Mangan cited the North Funds provided financial disclosures that stated in 2020 over $17 million of its $25 million in expenditures went to organizations supporting or opposing ballot measures. Mangan stated that his investigation found that the North Fund’s primary purpose is to support or oppose ballot issues.[9]

According to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the North Fund operates several different entities. [10] These include Just Democracy, an organization that promotes left-of-center policy on racial issues. Just Democracy also endorses giving D.C. statehood, abolishing the Electoral College, “packing” the Supreme Court, and ending the Senate filibuster. [11]

The North Fund also sponsors 51 for 51, a group that advocates solely for D.C. statehood. [12]  Launched in 2019, the 51 for 51 campaign announced a seven-figure ad buy in the 2020 presidential primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. [13]

The North Fund also sponsors Voting Rights Lab Action, which advocates for changes to voting laws across the country and has opposed anti-election fraud measures. [14]

The North Fund’s other projects include Opportunity Wisconsin, Accountable Tech, and the Count Every Vote Project. [15]

Ballot Measure Spending

In 2020, the North Fund spent $25.1 million in expenditures and $17.3 million of which went towards organizations that supported or opposed ballot measures.[16]

In 2020, the North Fund gave $4.7 million in direct contributions and spent an additional $339,520 in support of New Approach Montana regarding ballot measures I-190 and C-118.[17]

The North Fund also made significant expenditures on several ballot measures in Colorado and Missouri. The North Fund contributed $2.1 million in favor of a ballot initiative to expand family and medical leave benefits in Colorado and spent an additional $1.1 million to defeat a ballot initiative to ban abortions after 22 weeks. [18] [19]

Previously, the North Fund spent $500,000 to advocate for a 2019 Colorado ballot initiative to withhold state tax refunds from taxpayers in order spend any surplus funding on public schools, higher education, roads, and public transit. [20]

The North Fund gave $1 million to oppose a 2020 ballot initiative that would undo the current Missouri legislative districting system and replace it with an independent redistricting commission. [21] The North Fund further gave $1.5 million to Missourians for Health, a political action committee that advocates in favor of a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Missouri.[22]

Other contributions to organizations in support or opposition of ballot measures in 2020 include:

  • $750,000 to Protect Colorado’s Recovery
  • $4,400,000 to Colorado Families First
  • $1,350,000 to Abortion Access for All
  • $250,000 to Yes on National Popular Vote
  • $1,162,500 to Clean Missouri
  • $2,162,000 to Missourians for Healthcare
  • $37,800 to Vote 2020
  • $2,000,000 to Ohioans for Raising the Wage

References

  1. Kelly, Matthew. “Dark Money Accounts for Roughly a Quarter of pro-Medicaid Expansion Committee’s Funds,” July 13, 2020. https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article244192572.html. ^
  2. North Fund. Open Corporates. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_dc/EXTUID_4231080 ^
  3. Slanger, Addi. “Progressive Leaning D.C.-Nonprofit Spends Nearly $5 Million for Marijuana Legalization.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/progressive-leaning-d-c-nonprofit-spends-nearly-5-million-for-marijuana-legalization/article_90fded5b-1e86-5ea8-a98e-3e6949430993.html ^
  4. North Fund. Open Corporates. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_dc/EXTUID_4231080 ^
  5. Slanger, Addi. “Progressive Leaning D.C.-Nonprofit Spends Nearly $5 Million for Marijuana Legalization.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/progressive-leaning-d-c-nonprofit-spends-nearly-5-million-for-marijuana-legalization/article_90fded5b-1e86-5ea8-a98e-3e6949430993.html ^
  6. Ambarian, Jonathon. “Montana Marijuana Legalization Opponents Want pro-Legalization Group to Reveal Donors.” KTVH. KTVH, October 12, 2020. https://www.ktvh.com/news/election-2020/montana-marijuana-legalization-opponents-want-pro-legalization-group-to-reveal-donors. ^
  7. Mangan, Jeff. “PDF.” Helena: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, December 28, 2020. Document can be accessed at http://prod.politicalpractices.mt.gov/Portals/144/2020%20Decisions/Zabawa%20v%20North%20Fund_SD.pdf?ver=2020-12-28-113408-787.   ^
  8. Maltbie, Amber, and James Molloy. Letter to Jeffrey A. Mangan, Commissioner. “Re: North Fund Incidental Committee Classification – Response to Request for Additional Information,” October 23, 2020. ^
  9. Mangan, Jeff. “PDF.” Helena: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, December 28, 2020. Document can be accessed at http://prod.politicalpractices.mt.gov/Portals/144/2020%20Decisions/Zabawa%20v%20North%20Fund_SD.pdf?ver=2020-12-28-113408-787. ^
  10. Slanger, Addi. “Progressive Leaning D.C.-Nonprofit Spends Nearly $5 Million for Marijuana Legalization.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/progressive-leaning-d-c-nonprofit-spends-nearly-5-million-for-marijuana-legalization/article_90fded5b-1e86-5ea8-a98e-3e6949430993.html ^
  11. Kerma, Roge. “To Achieve Racial Justice America’s Broken Democracy Must be Fixed.” Vox. September 21, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.vox.com/21446880/just-democracy-reform-gun-violence-police-brutality-climate-change ^
  12. Slanger, Addi. “Progressive Leaning D.C.-Nonprofit Spends Nearly $5 Million for Marijuana Legalization.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/progressive-leaning-d-c-nonprofit-spends-nearly-5-million-for-marijuana-legalization/article_90fded5b-1e86-5ea8-a98e-3e6949430993.html ^
  13. Kirzius, Rachel. “This New Campaign Plans To Spend ‘Seven Figures’ Pushing For D.C. Statehood. But It Won’t Disclose Its Funders.” DCist. May 23, 2019. Accessed https://dcist.com/story/19/05/23/this-new-campaign-plans-to-spend-seven-figures-pushing-for-d-c-statehood-but-it-wont-disclose-its-funders/ ^
  14. Slanger, Addi. “Progressive Leaning D.C.-Nonprofit Spends Nearly $5 Million for Marijuana Legalization.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/progressive-leaning-d-c-nonprofit-spends-nearly-5-million-for-marijuana-legalization/article_90fded5b-1e86-5ea8-a98e-3e6949430993.html ^
  15. Slanger, Addi. “Progressive Leaning D.C.-Nonprofit Spends Nearly $5 Million for Marijuana Legalization.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/progressive-leaning-d-c-nonprofit-spends-nearly-5-million-for-marijuana-legalization/article_90fded5b-1e86-5ea8-a98e-3e6949430993.html ^
  16. Mangan, Jeff. “PDF.” Helena: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, December 28, 2020. Document can be accessed at http://prod.politicalpractices.mt.gov/Portals/144/2020%20Decisions/Zabawa%20v%20North%20Fund_SD.pdf?ver=2020-12-28-113408-787. ^
  17. Mangan, Jeff. “PDF.” Helena: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, December 28, 2020. Document can be accessed at http://prod.politicalpractices.mt.gov/Portals/144/2020%20Decisions/Zabawa%20v%20North%20Fund_SD.pdf?ver=2020-12-28-113408-787. ^
  18. Wyloge, Evan. “High Profile Ballot Measures Flooded With Out-of-State Campaign Cash.” Colorado Politics. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/2020-election/high-profile-ballot-measures-flooded-with-out-of-state-campaign-cash/article_d3ea8c50-0e55-11eb-bd6d-cbd2ace018a3.html ^
  19. Wyloge, Evan. “High Profile Ballot Measures Flooded With Out-of-State Campaign Cash.” Colorado Politics. October 26, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/2020-election/high-profile-ballot-measures-flooded-with-out-of-state-campaign-cash/article_d3ea8c50-0e55-11eb-bd6d-cbd2ace018a3.html ^
  20. Fish, Sandra. “Dark Money and Big Donors Fuel the Ballot Battle Over Proposition CC in Colorado.” Colorado Sun. October 17, 2019. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://coloradosun.com/2019/10/17/dark-money-donors-proposition-cc-colorado/ ^
  21. Rosenbaum, Jason. “In Explosive and Partisan Missouri Redistricting Fight, Voters Get the Final Say.” NPR. October 18, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/10/18/923304112/in-an-expensive-and-partisan-missouri-redistricting-fight-voters-get-the-final-s ^
  22. Kelly, Matthew. “Dark Money Accounts for Roughly a Quarter of Pro-Medicaid Expansion Committee’s Funds.” Kansas City Star. July 13, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article244192572.html ^
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