PARKER THAYER: Meet The Dark Money Network Quietly Transforming America

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Parker Thayer Contributor
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To the outside observer, Arabella Advisors is nothing more than an accounting and human resources firm that helps charities get things done, not a billion-dollar political influence operation helping leftists remain in power.

But, in fact, it is the latter–although you’d never know it from the website. The organization certainly does not publicly hint that they run the largest political influence operation in America. Those who visit their site will be met with a simple slogan: “We help changemakers create a better world.” And who would impugn a noble goal like that?

A motivated researcher with a little grit might be able to find scattered stories about the multi-million dollar political operations Arabella has been tangled up in across the country for years, but there has never been one place to learn the full story. (RELATED: A Dem-Linked Dark Money Network Is Quietly Funding The ‘Misinformation’ Research Industry)

That changed this year with the publication of “Arabella: The Dark Money Network of Leftist Billionaires Secretly Transforming America,” written by Scott Walter, President of Capital Research Center and my boss. I will be offering my thoughts on the effort below. (Disclosure: It’s quite a thing to review a book published by your boss, but his biggest complaint has always been that he does not have enough critics. I intend to become one.)

As mentioned above, the average person, before reading “Arabella,” would have no idea that the company is one of the most powerful political forces in America. Today, when confronted by reporters, Arabella still maintains the pretense that it is nothing more than a back-office support team. This book takes that pretense, shreds it and scatters the pieces to the wind.

The first chapter of the book introduces readers to Arabella Advisors the same way Walter and the Capital Research Center (CRC) first encountered it: a citizen tip-off from out of the Montana wilderness. Walter’s experience leading an investigative team shines through immediately, immersing the reader in the details and excitement of good-old fashioned investigative journalism. It gives the dull subject of nonprofit political activism the feeling of a compelling mystery novel; one so compelling that, even knowing how it ends, I found myself pleasantly frustrated by the informative flashbacks and foreshadowing that took me away from the tantalizing main storyline.

By the end of the first two chapters, the book has fully explained the structure and origins of “The $1.6 Billion Pound Gorilla.” That is quite a feat when you consider that the whole network was designed to obfuscate and confuse.

After that, the story becomes more anecdotal, diverging from a central narrative and presenting Arabella’s greatest hits (or worst, depending on your point of view) in the form of several in-depth case studies. These rapid-fire accounts show how the Arabella network was a leading advocate for retaining Obamacare in 2018; how it created pop-up groups to advocate for elections policies in 2020; how it spent hundreds of millions on abortion advocacy; and how it has quietly influenced the Biden Administration’s regulatory policies since 2021.

These case studies don’t come with the same thrill of the early chapters, but they’re easy to understand and almost entirely self-contained, allowing for buffet-style reading of chapters that interest the reader the most. I would recommend reading them all, though, as they convey the incredible scope of Arabella’s operations better than anything I have read before.

Towards the end, the feeling of detective work returns as the chapters dig into the fallout from Arabella’s unwilling exposure to sunlight; first at the hands of the Capital Research Center, and then at the hand of an ever-lengthening roster of mainstream reporters. The later chapters are filled with Walter’s witty remarks and sarcasm, but they end on a more somber note. “Can the Arabella Problem be Solved?” reads the penultimate chapter title. In answer, Walter runs through a list of well-researched policy fixes that would patch the loopholes that the reader just learned the Arabella network is exploiting, giving a convincing and nuanced argument in favor of each.

It is not the satisfying end of a mystery novel where the perpetrator is unmasked and hauled away, but investigations in the real world usually are not like that. The mystery told in “Arabella” is a disturbing fact, not fiction, but the conclusion makes clear that real-world solutions exist and the fairytale ending is possible.

Walter ends with a compelling call to action: “The choice America faces is between these two visions: Arabella’s style of Big Philanthropy ganging up with Big Government to force the rest of us to live as our betters think we should, or the original American vision, where government is decentralized and limited so that citizens can govern themselves and help each other through their families, neighborhoods and local groups.”

“Arabella” is truly Arabella’s worst nightmare.

Parker Thayer is an Investigative Research at the Capital Research Center. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College and writes about nonprofit involvement in elections, the Arabella Advisors network, the Open Society Network, left-wing criminal justice reform, and many other topics.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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