POLITICO Reports Right-Wing Activist Leonard Leo Used His Nonprofit Network To Get Rich While Advising Trump on Court Nominations
Leonard Leo is running millions of dollars through his enterprise of nonprofits to enrich himself and his buddies.
Washington, D.C. – POLITICO’s Heidi Przybyla published an investigative story today showing how Leonard Leo leveraged his nonprofit network to increase his wealth and broker power. As he gained influence in the Trump administration, Leo-connected nonprofits paid millions to his for-profit firms, resulting in a newfound lavish lifestyle.
POLITICO’s reporting details how Leo maintains a financial interest in a group of conservative nonprofits, which in turn pay consulting firms he owns, creating a potentially illegal circular payment structure. Over the past five years, these nonprofits paid $58 million to Leo-owned firms, CRC Advisors and BH Group.
“That’s a classic type of situation the IRS looks into if it appears you [via a nonprofit] are shoveling money to yourself in a for-profit context,” said Philip Hackney, an expert on tax law and charities who worked in the Office of the Chief Counsel at the IRS. Hackney also noted IRS investigations are typically triggered when an individual creates a nonprofit that then pays a for-profit that “makes them very wealthy,” he said.
According to the story, since 2016, his recent wealth accumulation has included two new mansions in Maine, four new cars, private school tuition for his children, hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Catholic causes and a wine buyer and locker at Morton’s Steakhouse.
POLITICO notes Leo’s non-profits made a second set of payments totaling $15 million to a separate Leo for-profit firm, BH Group. This started in 2016 and occurred over the four years Trump was nominating justices to the Supreme Court.
Leonard Leo used his proximity to the former President to handpick judges and push MAGA policies through the courts, enriching himself and his buddies along the way. His lifestyle upgrade was made possible by using his network of nonprofits to pour money into his for-profit consulting firm. This raises serious ethical and legal questions about how he uses nonprofits and how he will spend the $1.6 billion from a rightwing billionaire.”