Nevada Senate race: Anti-Laxalt funding traces back to DC dark money network, foreign billionaire's group

Nevada Senate race: Anti-Laxalt funding traces back to DC dark money network, foreign billionaire's group

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A Democratic group gearing up to spend millions against Republican Nevada Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt receives substantial funding from sources that trace back to a dark money network in Washington, D.C., and an entity started by a foreign billionaire, Fox News Digital has discovered.

The Somos PAC, a left-wing committee that targets Latino voters, is in the middle of a $4 million attack ad spending spree against Laxalt, the Republican front-runner to challenge Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto this November. The PAC began its seven-figure campaign, which it first revealed to Politico, in mid-May by pouring $1.25 million into media buys and website expenses, an independent expenditure report from the committee reviewed by Fox News shows. 

Though Democrats have taken Nevada the past four presidential elections, the Silver State is shaping up as a competitive Senate battleground in this fall’s midterm elections. The Somos PAC appears to be one of the first Democratic groups attacking Laxalt as he’s still locked in a Republican primary where he holds a double-digit lead over challenger Sam Brown.

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt campaigns for the 2022 GOP Senate nomination in the key Western battleground state.

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt campaigns for the 2022 GOP Senate nomination in the key Western battleground state. (Adam Laxalt Senate campaign)

The Somos PAC’s operations, meanwhile, are awash in anonymous donor cash. The money has entered the committee through groups financially backed or tied to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a D.C.-based nonprofit connected to a $1.6 billion dark money network managed by the Arabella Advisors consulting firm. Some of the wealthiest liberal donors use the network as a conduit to finance Democratic initiatives, ultimately masking where the money ends up. 

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Somos PAC’s most substantial donor for the midterm elections is the Family Friendly Action Fund, a New Hampshire-based nonprofit, federal records show. The nonprofit has given $447,150 to the Somos PAC up to the end of April, or nearly 60% of its cash haul.

Records filed to New Hampshire’s secretary of state show the Family Friendly Action Fund registered the trade name Somos Votantes, which is an advocacy group that aims to “increase voter participation and provide Latinos with tactical ways they can participate in shaping the future of American politics.” Somos Votantes is the sister organization of the Somos PAC.

The Family Friendly Action Fund’s donors are unknown, as the group conceals its financial backers in its tax documents. However, the Sixteen Thirty Fund transferred $1.2 million to the nonprofit in 2020, according to their most recent tax forms. Before 2020, the Family Friendly Action Fund had never taken in more than $442,000 annually since its launch in 2018.

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The Somos PAC’s second-largest contributor for the 2022 elections has more direct ties to the Sixteen Thirty Fund and also appears to have connections to an entity established by a foreign billionaire’s foundation.

Hansjorg Wyss attends Oceana's New York City benefit at Four Seasons Restaurant on April 1, 2015.

Hansjorg Wyss attends Oceana’s New York City benefit at Four Seasons Restaurant on April 1, 2015. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Oceana)

Change Now cut a $175,000 check to the Somos PAC on April 25, filings show. The money went to the committee just days after the Sixteen Thirty Fund had transferred $200,000 into its coffers. Change Now is entirely bankrolled by the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund has also provided $75,000 worth of in-kind administrative support and polling services to Change Now, Federal Election Commission records show. Change Now, meanwhile, has provided $51,000 of in-kind polling services to the Somos PAC. 

Change Now appears to be linked to a covert political operation tied to Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who has quietly emerged as a significant funder of Democratic causes. 

In 2015, the Wyss Foundation, one of two nonprofits established by the Swiss financier, created an operation at the Sixteen Thirty Fund and New Venture Fund, another Arabella-managed nonprofit, called the Hub Project, the New York Times reported. Years before Wyss had been linked to the operation, the Times reported that the Hub Project controlled the Change Now PAC.

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Following the revelation of Wyss’ involvement with Democratic advocacy groups, his citizenship has come under the spotlight. There is no indication that he is a United States citizen, and he has previously said that he is not. A 2021 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission lists Wyss as a “citizen of Switzerland.” 

Wyss has also bragged to foreign reporters about his influence in the United States, saying his connections reach as high as the White House. Foreigners can contribute to nonprofits in the United States but cannot donate directly or indirectly to election activity. 

Wyss has pushed money into the Sixteen Thirty Fund from the Berger Action Fund, his second nonprofit, which shares staff with the Wyss Foundation. Between 2016 and 2020, the Berger Action Fund transferred $135 million into the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears at a campaign event with Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt on April 27, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ronda Churchill/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears at a campaign event with Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt on April 27, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ronda Churchill/Getty Images)

“The Wyss Foundation and Berger Action Fund support causes such as conservation of public lands, access to health care, and a strong economy,” Marneé Banks, a consultant for the Wyss Foundation and Berger Action Fund, told Fox News Digital following publication.

“Both organizations expressly prohibit their grantees from using grant funds for electoral activities, including to support or oppose political candidates or parties,” Banks said. “The Wyss Foundation and Berger Action Fund follow all laws, regulations, and disclosure requirements.”

The Somos PAC and Sixteen Thirty Fund did not respond to inquiries. 

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The Somos PAC reported $781,000 in contributions at the end of April, meaning the group received an influx of money between early and mid-May to cover the first seven-figure expenditure against Laxalt. Those donors are not yet public.

The Somos PAC previously received millions from the likes of America Votes, Michael Bloomberg and George Soros during the 2020 elections.