Other Group

Co-Equal

Website:

www.co-equal.org/

Location:

Washington, DC

Type:

Policy and Research

Co-Founder:

Phil Barnett

Founded:

2018

Co-Equal is a left-of-center activist group that pushes for increased funding and staffing of federal agencies which provide research and policy advice to Congress, such as the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service. Co-Equal also advocates for increasing the staffs of congressional committees. The organization claims that the alleged shortage of staff in these agencies and committees handicaps the power of Congress relative to the executive and the judicial branches of government. [1]

Co-Equal has faced accusations of breaking congressional ethics rules by helping Democratic members of Congress hire consultants and lawyers to investigate opponents of left-progressive environmentalist initiatives. In January 2022, the watchdog group Government Accountability and Oversight (GA&O) filed a formal complaint which alleged that Democratic members of Congress had violated the ban on private financing of official congressional business. GA&O identified Co-Equal as the organization which provided the in-kind donations for hiring the investigators. [2]  ­

Co-Equal is a fiscally sponsored project of the Hopewell Fund, a major left-of-center philanthropic organization associated with the Arabella Advisors network with an annual revenue of more than $100 million. The project has a lobbying arm called Co-Equal Action, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Open Society Policy Center, a grantmaking entity affiliated with billionaire left-progressive financier George Soros. Co-Equal Action has also received significant funding from Democracy Fund Voice, an advocacy group run by left-of-center businessman Pierre Omidyar. [3]

Structure

The Hopewell Fund, which manages Co-Equal, is itself managed by Arabella Advisors, a left-of-center philanthropy consulting firm which also runs several other grantmaking organizations, including the Sixteen Thirty Fund which manages Co-Equal’s lobbying arm. [4]

Initiatives

In addition to its primary mission of increasing congressional staffing, Co-Equal runs several other initiatives intended to advance left-of-center interests. The organization is compiling what it describes as an “oral history” of the January 2021 Capitol riot, which it describes as an “attempted violent insurrection.” Co-Equal has also published several guides for calculating the impacts of various policies – both those that benefit left-of-center constituencies and those that allegedly reduce their power. [5]

Leadership­

Co-Equal was founded by Phil Barnett and Phil Schiliro. [6] Barnett is a lawyer who has worked as a law clerk for a Ninth Circuit appellate judge and for the Alaska office of the Sierra Club legal defense fund. He also spent more than two decades as a staffer in the House of Representatives, where he was the staff director for the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. [7]

Schiliro worked for the Obama administration in several roles, including Director of Legislative Affairs, Special Advisor to the President, advisor for the Affordable Care Act and Health Policy, and liaison to Congress. Like Barnett, Schiliro spent more than two decades on Capitol Hill, where he was the Chief of Staff for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Policy Director for Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), as well as Staff Director of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Democratic Leadership Committee. [8]

Ethics Controversy

Co-Equal has been accused of serving as a conduit for improper funding of Democratic Party activities in Congress by major left-of-center grantmakers. In January 2022, the investigative organization Government Accountability and Oversight filed an ethics complaint against House Democrats who had allegedly violated the ban on outside funding of official congressional activities. According to GA&O, Democratic representatives hired investigators and litigators to target opponents of environmentalist policies, with support coming from in-kind donations by Co-Equal. [9]

References

  1. “Need.” Co-Equal. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://www.co-equal.org/need ^
  2. Hayden Ludwig. “New Ethics Complaint: Soros-Funded Arabella Front Helped Democrats Break Congressional Ethics Rules.” Capital Research Center. January 25, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/new-ethics-complaint-soros-funded-arabella-front-helped-democrats-break-congressional-ethics-rules/ ^
  3. Hayden Ludwig. “New Ethics Complaint: Soros-Funded Arabella Front Helped Democrats Break Congressional Ethics Rules.” Capital Research Center. January 25, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/new-ethics-complaint-soros-funded-arabella-front-helped-democrats-break-congressional-ethics-rules/ ^
  4. Hayden Ludwig. “New Ethics Complaint: Soros-Funded Arabella Front Helped Democrats Break Congressional Ethics Rules.” Capital Research Center. January 25, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/new-ethics-complaint-soros-funded-arabella-front-helped-democrats-break-congressional-ethics-rules/ ^
  5. “Co-Equal Resources.” Co-Equal. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://www.co-equal.org/resources ^
  6. “Team.” Co-Equal. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://www.co-equal.org/team ^
  7. “Phil Barnett.” Co-Equal. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://www.co-equal.org/team-members/phil-barnett ^
  8. “Phil Schiliro.” Co-Equal. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://www.co-equal.org/team-members/phil-schiliro ^
  9. Hayden Ludwig. “New Ethics Complaint: Soros-Funded Arabella Front Helped Democrats Break Congressional Ethics Rules.” Capital Research Center. January 25, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/new-ethics-complaint-soros-funded-arabella-front-helped-democrats-break-congressional-ethics-rules/ ^
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Co-Equal

1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036