Judicial Education Project

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The Judicial Education Project (JEP) is a well-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit connected to a powerful network of dark money right-wing groups that influenced the shaping of the federal judiciary during Donald Trump's presidency. In early 2020, the Judicial Education Project was rebranded by Leonard Leo as The 85 Fund, but appears to be a legal alias of the group.[1]

News and Controversies

Sen. Whitehouse Highlights JEP's Involvement in Supreme Court Amici Briefs and Justice Nominations

During the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) made remarks concerning the dark money funding her nomination. About the Federalist Society, the Judicial Crisis Network, and the Judicial Education Project, Whitehouse said, "This more and more looks like it's not three schemes, but it's one scheme with the same funders selecting judges, funding campaigns for the judges, and then showing up in court in these orchestrated amicus flotillas to tell the judges what to do."[2]

In 2014, the grant officer of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation had met with Leonard Leo at the Federalist Society about funding two Supreme Court amicus projects.[3]

Leo connected the Bradley foundation to Neil Corkery, who led the Judicial Education Project at the time. Corkery also served as president of the since-disbanded Wellspring Committee, which gave Judicial Crisis Network $14.8 million in 2017 and $23.5 million in 2016.[3][4]

The Judicial Crisis Network received $17.9 million from a single anonymous donor to block the nomination of Merrick Garland and support the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, then a $17.1 million donation from a single anonymous donor in support of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.[5] The organization spent five figures on ads opposing Merrick Garland in 2016,[6] $1.4 million on ads in favor of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018,[7] and $3 million in favor of Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation in 2020.[8]

Honest Elections Project

Like JEP, the Honest Elections Project is a legal alias of The 85 Fund.

In August 2020, Jason Snead, HEP's executive director, discussed voter fraud messaging in a webinar with other State Policy Network members. [9]

In April 2020, HEP spent $250,000 on ads warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of planning to cheat in the November 2020 U.S. presidential election.[10][11] These ads .

The group also sent letters threatening legal action against Colorado, Florida, and Michigan, states with jurisdictions with voter rolls that it claimed were "suspiciously high, sometimes exceeding the number of voting-age adults there"[12] as well as filing briefs supporting voting restrictions in Minnesota, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.[11]

CMD Files Suit to Acquire JEP's IRS Filing

In April 2020, the Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service for refusing to release the tax records for eighteen rightwing groups, including the Judicial Education Project.[13]

Judicial Education Project and Honest Election Project Rebranded as 85 Fund

In early 2020, Leonard Leo began creating a conservative network inspired by the liberal consulting firm Arabella Advisors.[1]

As part of creating this conservative network, Leo and his business partner Greg Mueller rebranded Judicial Education Project and Honest Elections Project as The 85 Fund.[1][14][15]

Funding

Judicial Education Project is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:

DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund

Since its founding in 2011, the Judicial Education Project has received a large majority of its funding from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

Year Total Revenue DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund Grant Percentage of Funding from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund
2018 $7,837,050 $6,964,550 88.8%
2017 $9.469.500 $8,790,000 92.8%
2016 $12,375,000 $10,230,000 82.6%
2015 $11,335,700 $9,523,000 84.0%
2014 $9.077,000 $8,007,000 88.2%
2013 $2,520,110 $2,420,000 96.0%
2012 $1,525,000 $1,175,000 77.1%

Grants Distributed

2018[16]

2017[17]

2016[18]

2015[19]

2014[20]

  • Center for Rule of Law: $650,000
  • Chabad Housing Corporation: $20,000
  • Franklin News Foundation: $100,000
  • MO Forward Foundation: $100,000
  • RJ Johnson Legal Defense Fund: $690,000

2013[21]

  • Center for Rule of Law: $325,000
  • Education and Research Institute: $75,000
  • Lucy Burns Institute: $25,000

2012[22]

  • Catholic Association Fund: $50,000
  • George Mason University: $15,000
  • Legacy Foundation: $50,000
  • Pershing Center: $145,000

Core Financials

2018[16]

  • Total Revenue: $7,837,050
  • Total Expenses: $7,945,679
  • Net Assets: $62,913

2017[17]

  • Total Revenue: $9,469,500
  • Total Expenses: $11,525,413
  • Net Assets: $171,542

2016[18]

  • Total Revenue: $12,375,000
  • Total Expenses: $10,208,605
  • Net Assets: $2,227,455

2015[19]

  • Total Revenue: $11,335,700
  • Total Expenses: $11,491,063
  • Net Assets: $61,060

2014[20]

  • Total Revenue: $9,077,000
  • Total Expenses: $9,352,378
  • Net Assets: $216,423

2013[21]

  • Total Revenue: $2,520,110
  • Total Expenses: $2,247,325
  • Net Assets: $491,801

2012[22]

  • Total Revenue: $1,525,000
  • Total Expenses: $1,306,239
  • Net Assets: $219,015

Personnel

Board of Directors

As of 2018:[16]

  • Carie Severino, President

Former Personnel

  • Neil Corkery, Treasurer (2013-2014)
  • Daniel Casey, President (2013-2017)

Contact

Judicial Education Project
3220 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20007

EIN: 20-2466871
Phone: (561) 563-3547

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

Related SourceWatch

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jonathan Swan and Alyson Treene, "Leonard Leo to shape new conservative network", Axios, January 7, 2020, accessed December 7, 2020.
  2. PRWatch Editors, "Senator Whitehouse Calls Out Dark-Money Networks Behind Amy Coney Barrett’s SCOTUS Nomination", PRWatch", October 13, 2020, accessed December 11, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lisa Graves, "Snapshot of Secret Funding of Amicus Briefs Tied to Leonard Leo–Federalist Society Leader, Promoter of Amy Barrett", PRWatch, October 10, 2020, accessed December 14, 2020/
  4. Anna Massoglia and Andrew Perez, "Secretive conservative legal group funded by $17 million mystery donor before Kavanaugh fight", OpenSecrets, May 17, 2019, accessed December 14, 2020.
  5. John Kruzel, "It’s true: millions in dark money has been spent to tilt courts right", Politifact, September 11, 2019, accessed December 14, 2020.
  6. Judicial Crisis Network, "Judicial Crisis Network Launches Digital Ad Campaign Exposing Merrick Garland’s Record as a Liberal", organizational website, March 23, 2016, accessed December 14, 2020
  7. Judicial Crisis Network, "Judicial Crisis Network Launches Confirm Brett Kavanaugh, a $1.4 Million Ad Buy (National, AL, IN, ND, WV)", organizational website, July 10, 2018, accessed December 14, 2020.
  8. Marianne Levine, "Judicial Crisis Network launches $3 million ad campaign for Barrett", Politico, September 26, 2020, accessed December 14, 2020.
  9. David Armiak, "Right-Wing Groups Push Fraud Narrative to Undermine COVID-19 Vote-by-Mail Measures", PRWatch, September 3, 2020, accessed December 14, 2020.
  10. Alex Kotch, "An All-Out Assault: GOP-Aligned Groups Attack Voting Rights From All Angles", PRWatch, September 16, 2020, accessed December 14, 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Sam Levine and Anna Massoglia, "Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network", Guardian, May 27, 2020, accessed December 6, 2020.
  12. James Varney, "Watchdog demands purge of 'suspiciously' bloated voter rolls in 3 battleground states", Washington Times, February 27, 2020, accessed December 6, 2020.
  13. PRWatch Editors, "CMD Files Lawsuit Against IRS for Refusing to Release Tax Records for 18 Right-Wing Groups", PRWatch, April 20, 2020, accessed December 14, 2020.
  14. The 85 Fund, Fictitious Name Certificate: Judicial Education Project, Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission, filed February 7, 2020, accessed December 7, 2020.
  15. The 85 Fund, Fictitious Name Certificate: Honest Elections Project, Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission, filed February 7, 2020, accessed December 7, 2020.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Judicial Education Project, 2018 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 11, 2019.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Judicial Education Project, 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 6, 2018.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Judicial Education Project, 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 5, 2017.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Judicial Education Project, 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2016.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Judicial Education Project, 2014 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2015.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Judicial Education Project, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2014.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Judicial Education Project, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2013.