Liberal dark money group 1630 Fund's election wishlist boosted by Swiss billionaire

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Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss appears to have helped liberal organizations, including a powerful dark money group called the Sixteen Thirty Fund, check off their election policy wishlist with at least $208 million in donations from his nonprofit and foundation since 2016.

As of 2014, Wyss said he did not hold American citizenship, although money from his Washington, D.C.-based foundation appears to have trickled down into efforts to restore felons’ voting rights in Florida, mandate automatic voter registration in Nevada, redraw districts in Michigan and more.

The Wyss Foundation’s advocacy arm, the Berger Action Fund, gave more than $135 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund between 2016 and 2020, according to a New York Times report on Wyss. 

Closely related to Wyss and the Sixteen Thirty Fund is the Hub Project, a behind-the-scenes group helping progressives that is under the umbrella of the Sixteen Thirty Fund and New Venture Fund, another group that has received millions from the Wyss Foundation. The Wyss Foundation is one of the main donors of the Hub Project, which distributed funds from the Sixteen Thirty Fund to state-level groups ahead of the 2018 midterm elections that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives, according to the New York Times. 

Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg (left) and philanthropist Hansjorg Wyss attend Oceana’s 2015 New York City benefit at Four Seasons Restaurant on April 1, 2015, in New York City.  (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Oceana)
(Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Oceana)

One of those state-level groups was Floridians for a Fair Shake. Coordinated by the Hub Project, Floridians for a Fair Shake attacked Republicans ahead of the 2018 election. The group received at least $290,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund. Another group, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, successfully restored voting rights to more than a million felons through Amendment 4, which appeared on the ballot in 2018, thanks to $3.95 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Count MI Vote, a Michigan-focused group known by several names, including Voters Not Politicians, received funding from the Sixteen Thirty Fund to push for the creation of an independent redistricting commission to redraw Michigan’s congressional and legislative districts every 10 years. The Sixteen Thirty Fund provided $6 million of the $16.4 million the group raised through November 2018, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

In Nevada, the Sixteen Thirty Fund gave $6.25 million of the nearly $10 million raised by Nevadans for Secure Elections, which promoted Ballot Question 5 to automatically register to vote people who apply for Nevada driver licenses or identification cards.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund also poured millions of dollars into Arkansas, Missouri and Colorado to support goals, including minimum wage hikes and getting Democrats elected in 2018, according to Politico.

The Wyss Foundation’s Berger Action Fund also gave $3 million to former Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Redistricting Action Fund between 2018 and 2020. The National Redistricting Action Fund is supporting lawsuits in Louisiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania over the states’ legislative or congressional district lines, according to its website. Wyss’ group provided 40% of the National Redistricting Action Fund’s budget in 2017 and 2018 despite Holder’s stated opposition to foreign dollars in U.S. politics, the Washington Free Beacon noted.

Wyss lives in Wyoming, according to the New York Times.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund is part of a massive dark money network managed by D.C.-based consulting firm Arabella Advisors, which was founded by Eric Kesser, a former apointee of President Clinton and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2019, Arabella was paid nearly $34 million for administrative, operations and management services to manage the four funds in Arabella’s vast dark money network. In addition to Sixteen Thirty, Arabella manages the New Venture Fund, Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund.

Fox News’ inquiries to the Wyss Foundation and the Sixteen Thirty Fund were not returned at the time of publication.

Fox News’ Joe Schoffstall and Cameron Cawthorne and FOX Business’ Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.

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