Who’s Paying For The Ads Attacking James Comey?

A group called the Great America Alliance is getting a lot of attention today after it announced that it will run an ad attacking former FBI director James Comey during Comey’s testimony before a Senate committee tomorrow on his interactions with President Trump.

Open Secrets reported last month that Great America Alliance is a “refurbished” version of the American Dream Initiative (ADI), a nonprofit that doesn’t seem to have done much beyond running an ad against a Texas attorney general candidate in 2014. In January, the group relaunched as Great America Alliance, with Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani as its co-chairs, billed as an outgrowth of the pro-Trump super-PAC Great America PAC.

While Great America Alliance isn’t required to disclose the source of its funding, tax filings reveal that its previous iteration, ADI, appears to have funded its major previous project, the ad in the Texas attorney general race, through contributions from two groups tied to the Corkery family, wealthy donors to conservative causes.

The Corkerys are influential donors to a web of conservative groups, most notably the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), which was formed under the name the Judicial Confirmation Network to advocate for George W. Bush’s judicial nominees before changing its name and leading the charge against Barack Obama’s. Ann Corkery, who helped to launch JCN, is the president of its major funder, the Wellspring Committee. Her husband, Neil Corkery, is the treasurer of JCN and of several other groups.

In 2014, ADI received $350,000—more than half of its funding for the year—from the Corkery-run Wellspring Committee and another $250,000 from JCN.

Since then, several Corkery-linked groups have lined up behind Trump. In 2015, Wellspring gave $750,000 to 45 Committee, a group that spent millions supporting Trump’s campaign. 45 Committee has continued to boost Trump into his administration, creating an ad promoting the nomination of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and directing viewers to a website run by JCN.

The Corkerys also appear to be behind the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a self-proclaimed “ethics” and “transparency” group, which has been going to bat for Trump in the Comey scandal.

Open Secrets reported that Great America PAC and ADI have become embroiled in “several controversies”:

The super PAC mistakenly published emails and cell phone numbers of hundreds of donors, became caught up in a fundraising scandal for attempting to funnel money from a foreign donor into the U.S. presidential election, and parted ways with a political operative convicted of falsifying campaign records in a prior election. Blasted as a “big-league scam,” Great America PAC was accused by many of being a scam PAC. Nevertheless, the group raised over $28 million during the 2016 cycle and spent over $26 million. Great America PAC paid more than $4 million to Beach’s firm, Frontline Strategies and Media, making the PAC the firm’s top-paying client that cycle.

In 2014, ADI reported raising $600,000 from a fundraising campaign using in-person solicitation conducted by Frontline. The same year, ADI received $250,000 from Judicial Crisis Network and $350,000 from Wellspring. Frontline Strategy’s $600,000 fundraising push—which matches the total amount donated by the Wellspring and Judicial Crisis Network—accounts for more than 90% of ADI’s revenue of $652,829 in 2014.