Person

Barre Seid

Occupation:

Businessman

Role:

Republican Political Donor

Born:

1932

Barre Seid is a Chicago industrialist and former owner of Tripp Lite, which makes surge protectors. In 2021, Tripp Lite was acquired by Eaton for $1.65 billion in a transaction that involved transferring control of Tripp Lite to the Marble Freedom Trust, a social welfare organization which then sold the company to Eaton, in a deal which left Marble Freedom Trust with $1.6 billion, making it the largest center-right social welfare organization.

Backgound

Barre Seid was the owner of Tripp Lite, a surge protector company that was originally named Trippe Manufacturing. He has contributed publicly for over 30 years through the Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation. In 2019, the largest donation this foundation made was a $1.1 million grant to the Concert Opera of Chicago. [1]

Political Donations

Barre Seid’s first known political activity involved donations to the United Republican Fund, an Illinois-based organization that raised $1.1 million in 1989-90, of which Seid contributed $488,830. The Chicago Tribune reported that the goal of this organization was “to weigh in as a national force” in politics and that Seid had “largely underwritten” the organization. The Tribune noted that the group had spent more money on Texas campaigns than in Illinois. [2]

In 1990, Steven Baer resigned from the United Republican Fund ran in the Republican primary for governor of Illinois. The New York Times reported his campaign had “more than $700,000,” a including a  $497,000 loan from Barre Seid. [3] Then-Illinois Secretary of State Jim Edgar (R) beat Baer by a 63-33 margin. [4]

In 2010, Seid donated $700,000 to the campaign of Pennsylvania state Senator Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Philadelphia), a school choice advocate running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Other donors to Williams’s campaign included Susquehanna International executives Joel Greenberg, Arthur Dantchik, and Jeff Yass, who gave $1.5 million to the campaign and $1.1 million to a political action committee supporting Williams. [5] Williams came in third with 19 percent of the vote, losing to then-Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato (D). [6]

Clarion Fund

In 2008, the Clarion Fund sent out 28 million copies of the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War with The West, as part of the $19 million the group spent in 2008. Left-wing website Salon said that it obtained “a document submitted to the IRS” that stated that a “Barry Seid” (spelled in that manner) had contributed $17 million for the distribution campaign. Both the Clarion Fund and a spokesman for Barre Seid denied that Seid was a Clarion Fund donor. [7]

Marble Freedom Trust

In March 2021, Eaton Corporation acquired Tripp Lite for $1.65 billion. [8] In August 2022, the New York Times reported that the sale involved transferring control of the privately held company to the Marble Freedom Trust, a Utah-based 501(c)(4) organization, which then sold the company to Eaton. The Times report asserted that “the transaction appears to have been structured to allow the nonprofit group and Mr. Seid to avoid paying taxes on the proceeds.” [9]

The Marble Freedom Trust is headed by Leonard Leo, who resigned as executive vice president of the Federalist Society in 2020 to head CRC Advisors, a political consulting firm. When asked about Seid’s contribution to Marble Freedom Trust, Leo told the Times: “It’s high time for the conservative movement to be among the ranks of George Soros, Hansjorg Wyss, Arabella Advisors, going toe-to-toe in the fight to defend our Constitution and its ideas.” [10]

Documents obtained by the Times said that in 2021, the Marble Freedom Trust donated $153 million to the Rule of Law Trust, a combined $59.1 million to Donors Trust and Schwab Charitable Fund, and $16.5 million to the Concord Fund. [11]

Washington Examiner political correspondent Byron York noted that the Marble Freedom Trust was likely to keep some of its $1.6 billion in an endowment, while Arabella Advisors spent $1.2 billion in 2020 and Hansjorg Wyss spent $250 million. “Conservatives are playing catch-up with the Democratic spending machine,” York argued. [12]

References

  1. 2019 Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation Form 990. ^
  2. Thomas Hardy, “Gadfly GOP Group Gets Its Money in Illinois, But Doles It Out Elsewhere,” Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1989. ^
  3. William E. Schmidt, “New Faces in Primary for Governor of Illinois.” New York Times, March 12, 1990. ^
  4. Kathleen Best, “Voters’ Message Clear: Anti-Tax Passions Stirred Primary,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 22, 1990. ^
  5. Tom Infield, “Williams Gets New Infusion of Cash,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 13, 2010. ^
  6. Tom Infield, Miriam Hill, and Robert Moradi, “Favorite for Top Pa. Post Win Easily,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 19, 2010. ^
  7. Justin Elliott,” Mystery Of Who Funded Right-Wing ‘Radical Islam’ Campaign Deepens,” Salon, November 16, 2010, https://www.salon.com/2010/11/16/clarion_fund_obsession_dvds/ (accessed August 29, 2022) ^
  8. “Eaton Completes The Acquisition of Tripp Lite, Expanding Eaton’s Power Quality Business in the Americas,” press release from Eaton, March 17, 2021, https://www.eaton.com/us/en-us/company/news-insights/news-releases/2021/eaton-completes-the-acquisition-of-tripp-lite–expanding-eaton-s.html (accessed August 26, 2022) ^
  9. Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher, “Complex $1.6 Billion Donation Enriches Conservative War Chest,” New York Times, August 23, 2022. ^
  10. Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher, “Complex $1.6 Million Donation Enriches Conservative War Chest.” New York Times, August 23, 2022. ^
  11. Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher, “Complex $1.6 Billion Donation Enriches Conservative War Chest,” New York Times, August 23, 2022. ^
  12. Byron York, “With $1.6 Billion, Conservatives Play Catch-Up,” Washington Examiner, August 23, 2022, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/with-1-6-billion-conservatives-play-catch-up (accessed August 26, 2022). ^
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