Politics

Swiss Billionaire Previously Accused Of Sexual Assault Donated To Firm With Ties To Lincoln Project

REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
Font Size:

A 501(c)4 controlled by a Swiss billionaire and leading Democratic donor who was previously accused of sexual assault gave $135 million to a firm with ties to the Lincoln Project.

The Berger Action Fund, controlled by Hansjörg Wyss, an associate of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, donated $135 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund from 2016-2020, a New York Times investigation found. The Sixteen Thirty Fund donated $300,000 to the scandal-riddled Lincoln Project during the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets.

The Berger Action Fund is a federally-registered 501(c)4 organization, which means that it can lobby on certain political issues as long as it does not support or oppose a particular candidate. It shares an office and staff, including the same president, treasurer, and a director, with the Wyss Foundation, according to tax forms obtained by the New York Times. The Wyss Foundation is a federally-registered 501(c)3 organization, meaning that it can engage in charitable activities but can not engage in lobbying.

Many 501(c)3 organizations establish a 501(c)4 so that they can lobby on the political issues associated with their charitable activities, according to the Nonprofit Law Blog.

The Berger Action Fund also “entered into a reimbursement agreement with another organization, which charges the Berger Action Fund for its proportionate share of office space, employee services, and administrative expenses and files all required federal employment tax returns,” according to its tax return for 2017.

The Berger Action Fund and Wyss Foundation operate out of the same office in Washington, D.C., according to the New York Times report.

Between 2016 and 2020, the Berger Action Fund donated $135 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a leading donor organization to liberal- and Democrat-aligned groups. Sixteen Thirty ranked tenth among all donor organizations tracked by Open Secrets during the 2020 election cycle. It donated $300,000 to the Lincoln Project, the pro-Democrat group led by former Republican political operatives whose leadership resigned en masse following the allegations that co-founder John Weaver sexually harassed young men. (RELATED: MSNBC Did Not Ask Lincoln Project Founders About John Weaver Despite Booking Them 17 Times After The Story First Broke)

Wyss has also been accused of sexual misconduct. A former employee of the HJW Foundation accused Wyss of sexually assaulting her in a New Jersey hotel in 2011, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. The HJW Foundation merged with the Wyss Foundation in 2013. Wyss entered into a $1.5 million settlement with the employee in 2013 but later sued her for violating a confidentiality agreement.

New Jersey police re-examined the sexual assault case against Wyss in 2017 but did not ultimately file charges against him.