SOURCE: Wikipedia, 2020-10-15
This page last modified: 2020-10-15 22:35:11 -0700 (PST)
Leonard A. Leo (born 1965) is an American lawyer and conservative activist.
Leonard Leo has led campaigns to support the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. In 2017 (before Justice Kavanaugh's appointment and confirmation), legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote that Leonard Leo was "responsible, to a considerable extent, for one third of the justices on the Supreme Court." Leonard Leo described himself in 2019 as "a leader of the conservative legal movement."
Leonard Leo was born on Long Island, New York in 1965, and raised in suburban New Jersey to a family of practicing Catholics. Leonard Leo's grandfather, an Italian immigrant, was a Vice-President of Brooks Brothers. Leonard Leo attended Cornell University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1986, and working as an intern in the office of Senator Orrin Hatch. Leonard Leo completed a J.D. [Juris Doctor] degree at Cornell Law School in 1989, then clerked for federal judge A. Raymond Randolph of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
While studying law at Cornell, Leonard Leo founded a student chapter of the Federalist Society in 1989, and subsequently went to work for the Federalist Society in 1991 in Washington, D.C. In 2019, The Washington Post reported that the Federalist Society had paid Leo an annual wage of more than $400,000 for a number of years.
Leonard Leo served as National Co-Chairman of Catholic Outreach for the Republican National Committee, and as the 2004 George W. Bush presidential campaign's Catholic Strategist. Leonard Leo was appointed by President George W. Bush and the United States Senate to three terms on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Leonard Leo has been a U.S. Delegate to the UN Council and UN Commission on Human Rights as well as the Organization of Security and Cooperation and World Health Assembly. Leonard Leo has served as an observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization and as a member of the U.S. National Commission to UNESCO.
Leonard Leo organized efforts in support of the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leonard Leo received the 2009 Bradley Prize from the extremely conservative Bradley Foundation.
Leonard Leo has been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Huffington Post. Leonard Leo is a board member of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Leonard Leo met Clarence Thomas while clerking in the Appeals Court and the two became close friends. Leonard Leo delayed his start at the Federalist Society to assist Thomas in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
In 2003, when George W. Bush intended to criticize the practice of affirmative action in a speech but praise racial diversity, Leonard Leo called White House officials to complain. Leonard Leo said that the praise for racial diversity would "disgust any conservative who thinks that this is a matter of principle." Leonard Leo told the Washington Post, he "was conveying the widely shared belief among conservatives that discriminating on the basis of race is always wrong and inconsistent with the dignity and worth of every person." Leonard Leo helped to push the Bush administration's nomination of Miguel Estrada to the judiciary.
In 2012, Leonard Leo was on the boards of the Catholic Association and its affiliate Catholic Association Foundation. These two organizations ran campaigns opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In 2016, after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Leonard Leo helped arrange funding to rename George Mason University's Law School the Antonin Scalia Law School. Leonard Leo was also identified by 2017 Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch as the person who first contacted Gorsuch about the possibility of President Donald Trump appointing Gorsuch to the seat vacated by Scalia's death.
In 2019, The Washington Post wrote of Leonard Leo, "few people outside government have more influence over judicial appointments now than Leo." Between 2014 and 2017, Leonard Leo raised more than $250 million in "dark money" donations (donations where donors do not have to disclose their identity), which was in part used to support conservative policies and judges. Leonard Leo has said of Mitch McConnell, who has broken records in seating Republican judicial nominees, that he was "the most consequential majority leader, certainly, in modern history."
In January 2020, Leonard Leo announced that he would be leaving his position as Executive Vice President at the Federalist Society to start a new group, CRC Advisors [Creative Response Concepts (CRC)].
CRC Advisors is a conservative public affairs consulting firm modeled off of the liberal advisory group Arabella Advisors. CRC Advisors has lobbied against climate change mitigation policies. Leonard Leo remained in his role as co-Chairman of the Federalist Society's Board of Directors.
Creative Response Concepts is closely associated with the conservative activist Leonard A. Leo.
Leonard Leo is Roman Catholic. Leonard Leo has seven children with his wife, Sally. Their daughter Margaret died in 2007 at the age of 14 from spina bifida. Leonard Leo has spoken about the profound impact her life had on him.
In 2019, The Washington Post reported that the Federalist Society had paid Leonard Leo an annual wage of more than $400,000 for a number of years. In 2016, Leonard Leo received $120,000 for his work for the Catholic Association.
Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House (Simon & Schuster, 2004), co-Editor
[PRWatch.org, 2020-10-10] Snapshot of Secret Funding of Amicus Briefs Tied to Leonard Leo -- Federalist Society Leader, Promoter of Amy Barrett. A new review of grant documents, first published on the dark web, provides a snapshot of how groups tied to Leonard Leo -- the man who put Amy Barrett on President Trump's list for the Supreme Court-have been secretly funded to file briefs with the Supreme Court to overturn U.S. laws, including the Affordable Care Act.
[OpenSecrets.org, 2020-05-27] Honest Elections Project: Conservative "dark money" network rebranded to push voting restrictions before 2020 election.
... The Judicial Education Project is also closely linked to Leonard A. Leo, one of the most powerful people in Washington who has shaped Trump's unprecedented effort to remake the federal judiciary with conservative judges.
The organization has deftly hidden the changes to its name from public view. In December 2019, the Judicial Education Project formally changed its legal name to The 85 Fund, a group Leonard Leo backed to funnel "tens of millions" of dollars into conservative causes, according to Axios. The Honest Elections Project is merely a fictitious name -- an alias -- the fund legally adopted in February 2020. The change was nearly indiscernible because The 85 Fund registered two other legal aliases on the same day, including the Judicial Education Project, its old name. The legal maneuver allows it to operate under four different names with little public disclosure that it is the same group.
The Judicial Education Project is closely aligned with the Judicial Crisis Network, a group with unmatched influence in recent years in shaping the federal judiciary. The Judicial Crisis Network spearheaded the campaigns to get Gorsuch and Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court, spending millions of dollars in each instance. It has also spent significantly on critical state supreme court races across the country.
There is a lot of overlap between the Honest Elections Project and the Judicial Crisis Network. Both groups share personnel, including Carrie Severino, the influential president of the Judicial Crisis Network. Both groups have been funded by The Wellspring Committee, a group Leonard Leo raised money for until it shut down in 2018. Both have also paid money to BH Group, an LLC Leonard Leo once disclosed as his employer, that made a $1 million mystery donation to Trump's inauguration.
The Judicial Crisis Network also rebranded in recent months, changing its name in December 2019 to The Concord Fund. The Concord Fund then registered Judicial Crisis Network, its old name, as an alias.
"This is a small community that is really trying to push forward these more suppressive tactics that will be challenged in court and having those judges on the bench, they're really hoping it's going to continue to rig the system in their favor," said Lena Zwarensteyn, who closely follows judicial nominations at the Leadership conference. "By changing the rules of the game and who the referees are, they're trying to change the landscape." ...
[OpenSecrets.org, 2019-05-23] Wellspring Committee: An influential 'dark money' group turns off the lights for the last time
[2018-07-06]: The anti-abortion conservative quietly guiding Trump's supreme court pick, Leonard Leo -- who is advising Trump on his nominee -- is a mild-mannered Republican who has become one of the Washington's most influential people.
As the owlish Executive Vice-President of the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo has quietly become one of the Washington's most influential people. Carrie Severino, a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, said Leo knows the conservative legal movement "perhaps better than anyone in the country." Leonard Leo is on leave from the Federalist Society to advise Trump.
Kennedy's retirement has imperiled Roe v Wade, the court's landmark 1973 ruling that legalised abortion nationwide, which Leo and his conservative allies have long been committed to overturning. A ruling by the new court could allow states to outlaw abortion within their borders. Amid liberal outcry and polls indicating that Americans support Roe v Wade by more than two to one, Leo has appeared keen to contain his excitement. "I don't think people should be worried about Roe v Wade or any other particular case," he told CBS last week.
But such protestations do not persuade his critics. "It's nonsense," said Michael Avery, professor emeritus at Boston's Suffolk Law School and the author of a book on the Federalist Society's rise. "These people have been pursuing a strategy for decades of chipping away at women's rights."
Leonard Leo, a 53-year-old father of six, appears in the media as the mild-mannered public face of a strident campaign to reshape the American judiciary. It is a mission that has spanned several administrations, driven by Leo and fellow devout Catholics, and bankrolled with tens of millions of dollars from unidentified conservative donors. More than a decade ago, it helped secure George W Bush's confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. ...
... Working more behind the scenes is Ann Corkery, a Washington lawyer and fundraiser, who in the 1990s said she was a member of Opus Dei, the hardline Catholic order. Ann Corkery defended the group's practice of self-flagellation. "People don't understand sacrifice, the whole idea of why anyone would inflict pain, because the modern notion is to avoid suffering," she said. Corkery did not respond to emailed questions. ...
... Ann Corkery and her husband, Neil Corkery, have taken turns as president of the Wellspring Committee, a Virginia-based non-profit that channels funds to the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), which provides the campaign's sharp edge. JCN spent $17 million on television advertising and other advocacy in support of Gorsuch and, earlier, against Barack Obama's proposed centrist replacement of Scalia, Merrick Garland.
Gary Marx, JCN's secretary and treasurer, wrote in 2012: "Should abortion be illegal? Absolutely." Ann Corkery helped form JCN and Neil formerly served as its treasurer. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, they got started with funding from Robin Arkley, a conservative property developer from Eureka, California, who was friendly with Scalia.
Robin Arkley these days makes appearances as a pundit on a local radio talkshow, where he has complained of African Americans having children out of wedlock and called for homeless people to be expelled from Eureka [California]. Robin Arkley referred to the 2005 hurricane in Louisiana as "Saint Katrina" because it provided an "unbelievable stimulus" to the construction industry. Robin Arkley also said that, given the strength of support for Obama among minorities, the notion that white people should vote for white candidates is "something we really need to explore." Arkley did not respond to emailed questions.
Wellspring, the Corkery-led non-profit that funds JCN, is not required to name its donors. It disclosed late last year that it received $28.5 million from a single contributor. The Center for Responsive Politics has said Leonard Leo plays a leading role in raising money for Wellspring. The Center also found Wellspring sent $750,000 to an obscure company that gave $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund. Leo named that company as his employer on a public filing.
Dan Goldberg, the legal director of the liberal-leaning Alliance for Justice, said this "dark money" was allowing a wealthy elite to "turn back the clock" in American society without accountability. "They are spending an enormous amount of money to erode the progress we've made in ensuring rights for women, healthcare for millions of Americans and rights for workers, LGBTQ people and people of colour," said Goldberg.
The likely confirmation of Trump's second nominee will mark the pinnacle of Leo's endeavours for the Federalist Society, which he [Leonard Leo] joined soon after graduating from Cornell law school in 1989. But Michael Avery, the professor and author, does not expect Leo or his allies to admit it. "They will continue complaining that they are outsiders even after achieving the most complete takeover of the courts that we have ever seen," said Avery. "They will never be satisfied."
Return to BuriedTruth.com