An elderly, ultra-secretive Chicago businessman has given the largest known donation to a political advocacy group in U.S. history — worth $1.6 billion — and the recipient is one of the prime architects of conservatives’ efforts to reshape the American judicial system, including the Supreme Court.
Through a series of opaque transactions over the past two years, Barre Seid, a 90-year-old manufacturing magnate, gave the massive sum to a nonprofit run by Leonard Leo, who co-chairs the conservative legal group the Federalist Society.
The donation was first reported by The New York Times on Monday. The Lever and ProPublica confirmed the information from documents received independently by the news organizations.
Our reporting sheds additional light on how the two men, one a judicial kingmaker and the other a mysterious but prolific donor to conservative causes, came together to create a political war chest that will likely supercharge efforts to further shift American politics to the right.
As President Donald Trump’s adviser on judicial nominations, Leo helped build the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority, which recently eliminated constitutional protections for abortion rights and has made a series of sweeping pro-business decisions. Leo, a conservative Catholic, has both helped select judges to nominate to the Supreme Court and directed multimillion dollar media campaigns to confirm them. [Continue reading…]