Frontpage Magazine Follows Foreign Election Money to West Virginia.
Hansjörg Wyss has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Harvard, owns a 2,700 acre vineyard in California, and was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee in Morristown, New Jersey. But the real legacy of the foreigner whose medical device company was accused of killing three people may be his corrosive influence on American politics.
Critics have connected Wyss to the river of money that flowed into political groups like, Arizonans United for Health Care, North Carolinians for a Fair Economy and Floridians for a Fair Shake, all over the country. An FEC complaint accused organizations funded by Wyss, a “foreign national”, of allowing him to make “unlawful contributions through a network of nonprofit organizations, thereby concealing their source” for “the purpose of influencing federal elections.”
Despite FEC complaints, federal authorities have failed to act even when the evidence indicated that Wyss, who has been named as a Swiss citizen, had made federal campaign contributions. The IRS, as we exposed in our investigative series, Internal Radical Service, has also allowed radical nonprofits, including those linked to Wyss cash to freely operate with no audits.
Wyss is listed as the 523rd richest man in the world, some have described him as Switzerland’s Soros, and wields a great deal of power and influence, but we’re holding him accountable.
Front Page Magazine has been tracking the political activities and impact of Wyss for some time and while the impact of the dark money hubs that have benefited from his massive cash infusions has been obvious in battleground states, we decided to follow the trail of cash to see how even a state that isn’t a battleground has been altered by the politics of a foreign billionaire.
Unfortunately not all states have bothered to put laws on the books banning foreign political spending. Many states trusted the federal government to enforce laws against such activities, but the FEC has demonstrated that it will not act to prevent foreign money from tainting our politics. Some states however wisely moved to pass bills that protected them from foreign cash.
West Virginia was one of them.
That’s why Front Page worked to hold Wyss accountable by pursuing the money associated with the dark money machines funded by his operations to a state with both principled laws and officeholders who could do what the federal government would not. Wyss may have never visited West Virginia, but we set out to find out if any of his money had infiltrated it.
West Virginia isn’t a swing state and with a smaller population, it has election spending that is a fraction of that of many battleground states. That also means that outside money gets more bang for the buck. Still the flood of “dark money” into the Mountain State has become a matter of growing concern to locals worried that their elections are being bought by wealthy outsiders.
And wealthy outsiders don’t get more ‘outside’ than foreign citizens.
In the 2018 election cycle, ReSet West Virginia totaled over $2 million in election contributions. Over $700,000 of that money came from an organization called For West Virginia’s Future. In 2022, West Virginia Strong emerged as the third highest spender with over $152,000.
In 2020, ReSet WV was accused of using “dark political cash” to “elect their hand chosen candidates to the West Virginia Supreme Court” after spending over $600,000. The PAC claimed that it was fighting for “a Supreme Court free from the undue influence of out-of-state corporate money” and was “not beholden to out-of-state special interests.” Was that true?
While critics have accused the PAC of being a tool of personal injury lawyers, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office shows that Reset West Virginia had been merged with For West Virginia’s Future. And that West Virginia Strong’s name had been changed to For West Virginia’s Future. ReSet West Virginia, West Virginia Strong and For West Virginia’s Future appear to be the same entity with a funding source that is far from the “country roads” of home.
West Virginia Strong has received money from the Fund for a Better Future. For West Virginia’s Future has also received additional funding from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Windward Fund, the Hopewell Fund, the North Fund and the Open Society Policy Center. (The Windward Fund, the Hopewell Fund and the North Fund are managed by Arabella Advisers which also manages the Sixteen Thirty Fund.) The Sixteen Thirty Fund got $31 million from the Berger Action Fund.
The New York Times reported that, “The Fund for a Better Future has received the majority of its funding — nearly $45.2 million between the spring of 2016 and the spring of 2020 — from the Berger Action Fund.” And the Berger Action Fund is the vehicle for Wyss’ political spending.
The Berger Action Fund claims to be a 501(c)(4) that “does not support or oppose political candidates or political parties” and “works with the Wyss Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit” and prohibits “grant recipients from using funds to support activities connected with federal, state, or local elections.”
However as Politico reported, the Berger Action Fund, the “nonprofit organization founded by billionaire megadonor Hansjörg Wyss” dispatched “eight figures in contributions to one of liberals’ biggest hubs of ‘dark money.’” The New York Times found that, “The Fund for a Better Future has received the majority of its funding — nearly $45.2 million between the spring of 2016 and the spring of 2020 — from the Berger Action Fund.”
And that may be a big problem.
West Virginia state law bars a foreign national from directly or indirectly making a contribution or donation to a political party or committee and bars anyone from accepting such contributions. By moving cash through foundations, dark money hubs and PACs, it becomes all too easy to lose track of which money is going where. But every organization that sends out an “electioneering communication” is obligated to ensure that its funds are not coming from foreign money even when that money has passed through several other groups along the way.
Has the Fund for a Better Future and the various West Virginia groups benefiting from its cash flow done this? That is something that West Virginia officials have the tools to discover.
Ever since 2016, Democrats have told us that foreign money poses a grave threat to our political system. Yet even the New York Times and Politico have covered how they have benefited enormously from the money flowing out of the Wyss coffers.
Now it’s time for a reckoning.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center led the way in exposing George Soros and we continue to expose the other funders of the radical machine that is destroying our country and our culture. From Soros to Omidyar to Wyss to the foundations and dark money machines, we are taking them on, bringing them into the light of day and fighting to hold them accountable.