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US charity law loophole sees millions funnelled to far-right groups

This news post is 11 months old
 

Some of the groups included in the investigation operate in the UK.

An investigation from a renowned journalism collective has uncovered huge levels of “secret” donations given to far-right groups using charity law loopholes overseas.

Work carried out over a months-long period by openDemocracy has found that there is an “opaque flow of cash” from the United States to groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) - who operate in the United Kingdom. 

The work by openDemocracy found that organisations - some designated as hate groups -  opposing LGBTQ+ rights and access to abortion received $272million between 2017 and 2020. 

The money travelled through special accounts called donor advised funds (DAFs) in the four tax years from 2017 to 2020, which make it impossible to track the origins of the funding due to anonymity protections. 

openDemocracy analysed data on nearly 2,000 US funders to look at money flows to 36 far-right groups, including four that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labelled hate groups. 

The ADF is a well-known group which campaigns against a number of progressive causes, and is one of those designated a hate group by the SPLC. They received $99,581,378 alone between 2017 and 2020 from donors using DAFs. 

Between 2017 and 2020, the ADF obtained 43% of its revenue through DAFs. 

ADF UK, who are a registered charity, are the British branch of ADF International, who have defended the state-enforced sterilisations of transgender Europeans, worked to outlaw abortion,and curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

TFN has previously reported the links between the ADF and campaigns in Scotland opposing protections for women seeking abortions

The ADF’s UK branch has received hundreds of thousands of pounds in unrestricted funds from its American counterparts in recent years. 

The American group is recognised as one of the most influential extremist groups in the country, having reportedly strong links with Mike Pence, former Vice President in the Donald Trump administration, and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. 

Another group, Advocate Europe - who style themselves as a legal aid organisation but have been accused of “collaborating with hate groups” - have been active in the UK since 2001 and received more than $165,000 using the anonymous DAFs. 

Registered UK Charity the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association also received significant funding through DAFs. The group was awarded more than $12.5m between 2017 and 2020 using the shady accounts.Other groups who have also operated, or previously operated in the UK have also been included in openDemocracy’s work.