Swiss billionaire’s fund helped push against ‘dark money’
A fund controlled by a Swiss billionaire who has steered tens of millions of dollars to liberal causes also donated as much as $50,000 to the nonpartisan group Common Cause to advocate for a federal ban on donations like his.
David Vance, a spokesman for Common Cause, which advocates for limiting big money in politics, confirmed that the group received a donation from the Berger Action Fund, founded by Hansjörg Wyss. The fund has enabled Wyss, who lives in Wyoming but remains a Swiss citizen, to donate enormous amounts of money to liberal causes without running afoul of the United States’ ban on foreign citizens contributing to political campaigns.
Vance said the donation last year was between $25,000 and $50,000, adding that Common Cause normally reports the range of donations rather than precise dollar amounts. That’s a small fraction of the nearly $28 million in grants Common Cause reported receiving in 2022.
The grant also pales in comparison to Berger’s overall contributions, which amounted to about $72 million in 2021, cementing Wyss’ status as a Democratic megadonor.
The Berger Action Fund says on its website that the Common Cause donation was to support the DISCLOSE Act. The federal legislation would place new regulations on “dark money” to political nonprofit groups, which are not required to disclose their donors and do not have to reveal much about how they spend the donations they receive.
The bill, which has stalled in a closely-divided Congress, also would crack down on contributions from foreign-controlled entities.
The existence of the Common Cause grant was first reported by the conservative publication The Washington Free Beacon.
Associated Press writer Brian Slodysko contributed to this report.