Do Lobbying & Ethics Rules Apply to Arabella Advisors?

Matthew Foldi writes in a Washington Examiner opinion article:

Recent revelations show that the head of Arabella Advisors, the leftist dark money group pulling the strings of the Democratic Party, is directly communicating with the secretary of the Department of Agriculture. These reports raise troubling questions about the Democratic Party’s willingness to outsource policymaking to an unaccountable dark money juggernaut — questions that Democrats in Congress are unwilling to answer.

The founder of Arabella Advisors is Eric Kessler (in photo). His actions are coming under scrutiny after Agriculture Department emails were revealed showing an unusually close relationship with Secretary Tom Vilsack. From the article:

Through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust exposed how this relationship works. APT uncovered that Vilsack has at times completely outsourced the decision-making of his sprawling federal agency to Arabella’s Kessler. Kessler is not some disinterested third party. The company he helms, Arabella Advisors, runs its own for-profit “Good Food” initiative that is poised to benefit from Kessler’s wide-open access to USDA.

From the article:

Paul Kamenar, the counsel at the National Legal and Policy Center, told the Washington Examiner that Kessler’s arrangements with USDA “definitely raises eyebrows in terms of whether Eric Kessler should be registered as a lobbyist,” which Kessler is not. Kamenar also floated the possibility that Kessler may be exploiting a “loophole in getting around the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires private individuals to have their advice and recommendations put on the public record in public meetings.” Arabella itself is not registered to lobby either, which may in turn violate the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

When it comes to left-wing groups and activists, there are very few who are not supported through nonprofits managed by Arabella Advisors. According to Hayden Ludwig of the Capital Research Center:

Arabella’s nonprofits act as the left’s premier pass-through funders for professional activists. Big foundations—including the Gates, Buffett, and Ford Foundations—have laundered billions of dollars through this network, washing their identities from the dollars that go to push radical policies on America.

What’s different about Kessler’s involvement in agricultural issues is that Arabella runs its own “Good Food” project, in which it appears he has a strong personal interest. In a 2016 video, Kessler advocates “stemming the flow of investment capital” to companies he doesn’t like and steering capital to those he does. This mix of private interests, nonprofit activism, and influence seeking risks running afoul of lobbying and ethics regulations.




Tags: Arabella Advisors, dark money, Department of Agriculture, Eric Kessler, ethics