The man who personally advises President Trump on his judicial appointments has formed a new firm designed to funnel big money to conservative causes. How will his growing influence shape the philanthropic landscape in 2020?
In early 2020, conservative influencer Leonard Leo announced that he would be stepping away from his role as executive vice president of the Federalist Society to launch a “full-service conservative public affairs powerhouse” called CRC Advisors, a consulting firm designed to raise large sums of money for conservative political causes—especially judicial appointments.
Among the first initiatives for the newly formed CRC Advisors will be a $10 million issue advocacy campaign focused on boosting President Trump’s judicial appointments in 2020.
CRC Advisors will also work to “incubate public policy projects, coalitions, and groups,” and forge strategic relational connections between “professionals, successful non-profits, and savvy philanthropists,” Leo told Bloomberg Law.
According to Axios, Leo’s new venture is designed to serve as a counterpunch to the powerful, left-leaning Arabella Advisors, which advises progressive donors and nonprofits on their philanthropic efforts. In late 2019, Politico shed light on the “unprecedented gusher of secret money” currently flowing to liberal causes.
It would be difficult to overstate Leo’s influence on American politics over the past 20 years. He has personally advised President Trump’s judicial selections, which the President (without mentioning Leo by name) touted during his 2020 State of the Union address:
“We have recommended 180 new judges to uphold our Constitution as written. This includes Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh,” President Trump celebrated before the joint session of Congress. “We have many in the pipeline.”
Indeed, most of the appeals court judges appointed by President Trump are members of the Federalist Society, which advances limited, constitutional government. The Society has grown to more than 70,000 members under Leo’s leadership.
While Leo will continue to serve as board co-chairman of the Federalist Society—which does not lobby, take policy positions, or endorse candidates—this new venture will enable him to more directly fundraise from ultra-wealthy donors for the promotion of conservative judges and causes. One can only imagine how his growing influence will shape the philanthropic and political landscape in 2020 and beyond.