Corporate America Gives Millions to Groups Registering New Voters in Democratic Areas

October 21, 2020 Updated: November 10, 2020

Donors representing Fortune 500 giants such as Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments joined with liberal dark money donors to swell the coffers of voter registration groups that focus on heavily Democratic neighborhoods.

Between them, Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund and Charles Schwab Charitable Fund gave nearly $3.9 million in 2018 to the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a nominally nonpartisan outfit that’s part of a group of Washington-based voter registration entities.

Along with its sister entities the Center for Voter Information (CVI) and Women’s Voices/Women Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF), VPC claims to “have generated 1,404,724 registration applications” and “over 4,800,450 Vote by Mail applications” for the 2020 elections.

The three groups share office space in downtown Washington and, according to The Washington Post, are run by two veteran Democratic campaign strategists, Page Gardner and Tom Lopach.

The groups are described by Influence Watch as “left-of-center, and the VPC’s political spending exclusively goes to supporting Democratic candidates or opposing Republicans.”

Gardner’s first national political involvement was with former Sen. Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential campaign and she went from there to become an early advocate of Democrats pushing registration efforts among America’s “Rising Electorate” of blacks, Hispanics, women, and millennials.

Lopach is a former executive director of the Committee for a Democratic Majority, national finance director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and chief of staff to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Influence Watch is a project of the Capital Research Center (CRC), a conservative think tank that has tracked funding, leadership, and other aspects of liberal advocacy groups and foundations since its founding in 1984.

While neither Gardner nor Lopach were available for interviews, a spokesman told The Epoch Times on Oct. 21 that, “as a nonprofit and nonpartisan civic engagement group, CVI is proud to have helped 5 million registered voters send in their vote-by-mail ballot applications this cycle.”

As 501(c)(4) foundations, CVI and WVWVAF are able to spend a portion of their funds on partisan candidates and campaigns, with CVI, for example, reporting on its most recently available IRS Form 990 partisan spending of more than $6.3 million in 2018. As a 501(c)(3), VPC is not allowed to spend directly on partisan campaigns and candidates.
The Fidelity and Schwab contributions were part of a surge in contributions during 2018 that provided the foundation for the three groups’ massive 2020 mailing campaigns of mail-in voting applications to Democratic areas in multiple states. It should be noted that the Schwab contributions reflected the wishes of donors, not the Schwab firm.

Researchers and analysts at CRC were able to trace some of the donors who increased CVI’s annual revenues from $1.1 million in 2017 to $19 million in 2018 and VPC’s from $4.5 million in 2017 to $26.3 million in 2018.

Besides Fidelity and Schwab, other VPC donors identified by CRC included:

  • $2.5 million from the Voter Registration Project Education Fund
  • $1 million from the Hopewell Fund
  • $900,000 from the Proteus Fund
  • $403,000 from the Majority Forward
  • $185,000 from the Schwab Charitable Fund
  • $125,000 from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation
  • $125,000 from the Human Rights Campaign
  • $100,000 from the NEO Philanthropy
  • $76,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  • $50,000 from the Jewish Community Foundation of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles
  • $40,000 from Pennsylvania Voice
  • $25,000 from the Crosscurrents Foundation
  • $19,000 from Wellspring Philanthropic Fund
  • $10,000 from the Jewish Communal Fund

And among the CVI/WVWVAF donors CRC found were these:

  • $756,000 from the Green Advocacy Project
  • $500,000 from the League of Conservation Voters
  • $112,000 from the Human Rights Campaign
  • $50,000 from the Tides Foundation
  • $50,000 from the Sierra Club
  • $30,000 from the California Community Foundation

The Tides Foundation contributions are particularly significant because that group pioneered in the political realm the use of one tax-exempt foundation beginning in 1976 as a vehicle for anonymous liberal donors to support possibly unpopular causes. Donor Trust, a similar but conservative group, wasn’t established until 1999.

Critics argue that the massive mailing of mail-in voting applications by liberal groups such as the Gardner/Lopach complex are an open invitation to increased voter fraud, especially when combined with lax policing of voter rolls by state and local authorities.

“Third-party registration drives by these foundations are cranking error into the voter rolls,” Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) founder and President J. Christian Adams told The Epoch Times on Oct. 21.

Adams, a former Department of Justice Voting Section attorney and whistleblower, was recently appointed by President Donald Trump to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

He cited the case of an individual “who was registered to vote seven times in Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh metropolitan area” in 2016 and 2018 that Adams’ group found while analyzing the jurisdiction’s voter rolls. The seven signed and dated registration applications were reviewed by The Epoch Times.

Scott Walter, CRC’s president, told The Epoch Times “these folks oppose every measure that would in any way make voter fraud harder, and they support every measure that would in any way make voter fraud easier.”

Walter was referring to the Gardner/Lopach groups and other similar nominally nonpartisan organizations doing similar registration drives that target neighborhoods likely to be populated mainly with residents sympathetic to liberal Democratic candidates and causes.

Robert Popper, who manages Judicial Watch’s Campaign for Clean Elections, told The Epoch Times on Oct. 21 that at a minimum, the millions of mailed registration and voting documents by private groups creates voter confusion, as well as encourages more voter fraud.

“You’re asking people to register to vote and God knows where you got your mailing lists,” Popper said. “What I would want to know is what are your controls, are you asking people to register where they live as opposed to where they don’t?

“You create a risk that you’re inviting people to register to vote in a place where they don’t live. That can lead to unintentional problems and to intentional problems.”

Popper added that “we’re finding people are being inundated with ballots from places all over the country where they used to live. They’re being inundated even when they’ve lived in one place for a long time.”

Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc