March 30, 2017

Whitehouse, Feinstein, Durbin, Franken, Blumenthal, Hirono Call on Gorsuch and Dark Money Group to Disclose Secretive Backers

In letters sent to SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch and the Judicial Crisis Network today, the Senators ask who has supplied $17 million to boost the Republican appointee

Washington, DC – Today, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) wrote to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the dark money group backing his nomination, the Judicial Crisis Network, calling on them to reveal who has spent $17 million on Gorsuch’s nomination fight.  The Senators want answers before Gorsuch’s confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

“Because the organization is not required to disclose the identities of its donors, the American people have no idea who is so aggressively advocating for your confirmation, or why,” the Senators write in their letter to Gorsuch.  “When asked why you thought JCN was willing to spend $17 million ensuring your confirmation over that of exceptionally qualified Judge Garland, you responded that we should ask them.  We have now done so.”

Copies of the letters are available here and here.

During Gorsuch’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing last week, Senator Whitehouse pressed Gorsuch for his position on the effect unlimited, secret political spending—or “dark money”—has had on our political system since the 2010 Citizens United decision, and whether Gorsuch knew why a dark money group was spending on his behalf.  Whitehouse noted that the Judicial Crisis Network led a campaign to defeat President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016, Merrick Garland, and has committed $10 million to support Gorsuch’s bid for the Court. 

“What’s interesting is that this group sees a huge difference between you that I don’t understand,” Whitehouse said during the hearing. “The dark money group that is spending money on your [nomination] spent at least $7 million against him getting a hearing and a confirmation here, and indeed produced that result by spending that money.  And then now we have $10 million going the other way.  That’s a $17 million delta.  And for the life of me, I’m trying to figure out what they see in you that makes that $17 million delta worth their spending.  Do you have any answer to that?”

“You’d have to ask them,” Gorsuch replied.

“I can’t,” said Whitehouse. “Because I don’t know who they are.”

Video of the exchange is available here.


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