DeSmog

Judicial Education Project

The 85 Fund (Formerly Judicial Education Project)

Background

The 85 Fund, formerly known as the Judicial Education Project (JEP)Jonathan Swan and Alayna treene. 1Leonard Leo to shape new conservative network,” Axios, January 7, 2020. Archived March 25, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vioWQ is a United States-based nonprofit organization. It is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) “sister ‘charity” to the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), or Concord Fund, which is incorporated as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.

Under U.S. tax rules, donations to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization are tax-deductible, and donations to a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization are not.

Together, the 85 Fund and the Judicial Crisis Network/Concord Fund have spent millions of dollars advocating for the appointment of conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse summarized the groups’ name changes in an August 2021 speech: “Judicial Education Project changed its name, and it became the 85 Fund. The Concord Fund then registered its old name, Judicial Crisis Network, as what is called a fictitious name, a kind of corporate alias under Virginia law, and continued to operate as the Judicial Crisis Network.”2THE SCHEME SPEECH 6: JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK,” Sheldon Whitehouse, August 5, 2021. Archived March 25, 2024. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dYk8F

Publicly available federal tax forms show that both organizations are tied to the Corkery family.3Anna Massoglia. “An influential ‘dark money’ group turns off the lights for the last time,” OpenSecrets.org, May 23, 2019. Archived January 16, 2020. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/wip/fD6KT

Neil Corkery was an early director of the Judicial Education Project, and treasurer of the group until 2014. Neil’s wife Anne Corkery founded and initially headed the now-defunct Wellspring Committee in 2005.4Stephanie Mencimer. “These Right-Wing Groups Are Gearing Up for an Onslaught on Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee,” Mother Jones, March 19, 2016. Archived January 16, 2020. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/wip/JKOhn

The Wellspring Committee was the primary funder behind JCN, and also a large contributor to the Judicial Education Project. Wellspring fed over $54 million dollars into JCN between 2010 and 2017, before dissolving in 2018.5Stephanie Mencimer. “These Right-Wing Groups Are Gearing Up for an Onslaught on Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee,” Mother Jones, March 19, 2016. Archived January 16, 2020. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/wip/JKOhn

In 2020, JEP’s total revenue was $65,777,856, and its net income after expenses was $6,024,774. according to the group’s federal tax filing.6Judicial Education Project,” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Archived October 5, 2022. Archive URL: http://archive.today/DR3Pn

Stance on Climate Change

The Judicial Education Project has provided funding to groups such as the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a conservative media organization that has promoted viewpoints questioning the scientific consensus on the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change. JEP has also funded the American Conservative Union, which has advocated legislation that would prevent the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

JEP has also supported the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF).7Carrie L. Lukas. “Inconvenient Facts About Inconvenient Youth,” Independent Women’s Forum, May 11, 2010. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NHLIx In a 2010 post on the IWF’s website, IWF president Carrie Lukas disparaged a youth climate action project: 8Carrie L. Lukas. “Inconvenient Facts About Inconvenient Youth,” Independent Women’s Forum, May 11, 2010. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NHLIx

“Most parents whose child has signed up for Al Gore’s new initiative, Inconvenient Youth, are likely pleased that junior has taken an interest in an important policy issue. Far better to ruminate about ways to improve the environment than to waste time playing video games or watching Jersey Shore reruns on MTV.

“Yet parents might want to pay a bit of extra attention to their child’s new hobby: blogging about environmentalism may be harmless, but your child deserves to know that a lot of what they are being told about climate change has no more basis in reality than The Hills.” (Emphasis added.) 9Carrie L. Lukas. “Inconvenient Facts About Inconvenient Youth,” Independent Women’s Forum, May 11, 2010. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/NHLIx

Funding

The following is based on data collected by the Conservative Transparency project, combined with original research by DeSmog.10Judicial Education Project,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed January 16, 2020.

See the attached spreadsheet for additional details on Judicial Education Project funding by year (.xlsx).

Funders of the Judicial Education Project

Most of the Judicial Education Project’s funding has come through sources that obscure funding sources such as DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, two groups that have been described as the “Dark-Money ATM of the conservative movement.11Andy Kroll. “Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived January 21, 2020. Archive.ph URL:https://archive.ph/wip/cNiyF

The JEP has also received funding from the Wellspring Committee, the primary funder of the Judicial Crisis Network. Wellspring reportedly serves as a ”conduit” for funding conservative groups.12Viveca Novak, Robert Maguire and Peter Overby. “Wellspring’s Flow: Dark Money Outfit Helped Fuel Groups on Political Front Lines,” OpenSecrets.org, November 5, 2013.

Organization201020112012201320142015201620172018Grand Total
DonorsTrust $50,000$645,000$1,470,000$7,277,000$7,684,000$9,880,000$8,790,000$6,964,550$42,760,550
Donors Capital Fund $300,000$530,000$950,000$730,000$2,000,000$350,000  $4,860,000
National Philanthropic Trust   $100,000$310,000$200,000$475,000 $800,000$1,885,000
Wellspring Committee$50,000$136,000       $186,000
Considine Family Foundation     $20,000$10,000  $30,000
Encounter for Culture and Education     $30,000   $30,000
The TWS Foundation     $25,000   $25,000
Hickory Foundation     $20,000   $20,000
Center for Independent Thought     $10,000   $10,000
The Rodney Fund     $2,000   $2,000
Grand Total$50,000$486,000$1,175,000$2,520,000$8,317,000$9,991,000$10,715,000$8,790,000$7,764,550$49,808,550

Judicial Education Project as Donor

Organization2012201320142015201620172018Grand Total
Center for the Rule of Law $325,000$650,000$355,000$760,000  $2,090,000
George Mason University Foundation    $350,000$800,000$800,000$1,950,000
RJ Johnson Legal Defense Fund  $690,000$795,000$445,000  $1,930,000
Speech First     $250,000$750,000$1,000,000
Citizens for Self Governance    $950,000  $950,000
Private Citizen     $502,036$400,000$902,036
NRA Freedom Action Foundation     $750,000 $750,000
Judicial Evaluation Institute    $150,000$150,000 $300,000
Independent Women’s Forum      $300,000$300,000
Orrin Hatch Foundation     $250,000 $250,000
Center for Security Policy    $128,000 $25,000$153,000
Pershing Center$145,000      $145,000
Concerned Women for America     $125,000 $125,000
Ethics and Public Policy Center   $5,000 $100,000 $105,000
Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity  $100,000    $100,000
Missouri Forward Foundation  $100,000    $100,000
Susan B Anthony List Education Fund     $100,000 $100,000
Frontier Lab   $75,000   $75,000
Education & Research Institute $75,000     $75,000
Legacy Foundation$50,000    $20,000 $70,000
Catholic Association Foundation$50,000      $50,000
Unconstrained Analytics      $50,000$50,000
American Conservative Union Foundation     $50,000 $50,000
Equal Voting Rights Institute    $50,000  $50,000
NFIB Small Business Legal Center    $32,000  $32,000
Center for Individual Rights      $25,000$25,000
Lucy Burnes Institute $25,000     $25,000
Chabad Housing Corporation  $20,000    $20,000
George Mason University$15,000      $15,000
Grand Total$260,000$425,000$1,560,000$1,230,000$2,865,000$3,097,036$2,350,000$11,787,036

Third-Party Contractors

The Judicial Education Project has hired the following companies for consulting, legal, public relations, or management services:

Contractor201220142015201620172018Grand Total
Baker Hostetler $3,301,988$2,915,004   $6,216,992
Creative Response Concepts  $734,000$1,187,500$720,778$978,000$3,620,278
Graves Garrett $850,000$2,252,642   $3,102,642
BH Group LLC    $1,352,340$675,000$2,027,340
Cooper & Kirk, PLLC   $1,439,711 $500,000$1,939,711
Center for Rule of Law    $995,000$915,000$1,910,000
Jones Day $249,499$913,449   $1,162,948
Bancroft PLLC  $444,291$373,911  $818,202
Kirkland & Ellis LLP    $771,178 $771,178
Sidley Austin LLP    $660,000 $660,000
Consovoy McCarthy   $525,000  $525,000
Holzma Vogel $441,223    $441,223
Stein Mitchell   $365,695  $365,695
Steptoe Johnson $360,847    $360,847
Gibson Dunn     $358,854$358,854
Carrie Severino$291,481     $291,481
Grand Total$291,481$5,203,557$7,259,386$3,891,817$4,499,296$3,426,854$24,572,391

IRS Form 990

Key Documents

Key People

The JEP has listed the following people on its federal Form 990 tax forms:

Name2012201320142015201620172018Description
Carrie Severino YYYYYYDirector/President
Daniel CaseyYYYYYY Director/President
Gary MarxY      Director
Neil CorkeryYYY    Director, Treasurer

Actions

2014 – 2016

According to tax records, the Judicial Education Project gave $1,930,000 to the R.J. Johnson Legal Defense Fund. R.J. Johnson was the longtime political advisor to former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and also the spokesman for the Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Leaked documents released by The Guardian in 201613Because Scott Walker Asked,” The Guardian, September 14, 2016. Archived May 13, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/wip/ATEdx outlined how Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign, in what prosecutors alleged was a “criminal scheme,” used the Wisconsin Club for Growth as a funding conduit to sidestep campaign finance laws.14James Hohmann. “Walker allegedly in ‘criminal scheme’,Politico, June 19, 2014. Archived March 13, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/wip/1gUze

February 12, 2014

The Judicial Education Project filed an amicus brief 15“JOHN M. DRAKE, ET AL., Petitioners, v. EDWARD A. JEREJIAN, ET AL., Respondents” (PDF), retrieved from Judicial Crisis Network. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. in the Supreme Court case Drake v. Jerejian, “an important case about the constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Carrie Severino wrote in the National Review.16Carrie Severino. “Judicial Education Project Files Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court Review of Drake v. Jerejian,” National Review, February 13, 2014. Archived March 12, 2020. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.vn/4ArPZ

February 6, 2014

Alongside the Center for Individual Rights and Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, the Judicial Education Project filed an amicus brief in Halbig v. Sebelius, a case seeking to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. JEP submitted the brief on behalf of Republican Senators John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, as well as Representatives Dave Camp and Darrell Issa. Several other conservative groups also filed amicus briefs in the case, including the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumers’ Research, the Galen Institute, and the Pacific Research Institute.17Carrie Campbell Severino. “Judicial Education Project Files Amicus Brief in Halbig v. Sebelius,” National Review, February 7, 2014. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/wip/nEJyY

October 3, 2014

The Judicial Education Project, represented by Carrie Severino, filed an amicus brief in Halbig v. Sebelius, a case arguing against an IRS rule applied under the Affordable Care Act. The Center for Individual Rights, represented by Michael E. Rosman, also filed an amicus brief in the case. 18IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT JACQUELINE HALBIG, et al.,  Appellants, v. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, et al.,  Appellees” (PDF), October 3, 2014. USCA Case #14-5018.

January 28, 2014

The Judicial Education Project filed an amicus brief in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. 19Carrie Campbell Severino. “JEP Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood,” National Review, January 28, 2014. Archived March 12, 2020. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.vn/wip/uj811 The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in the case was the first time that it recognized a for-profit company’s claim of religious belief. The decision exempts privately held for-profit corporations from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate – the requirement to cover the full cost of contraceptives for female employees – if the corporation’s owners assert a religious objection to providing this coverage.20Jaime Fuller. “Here’s what you need to know about the Hobby Lobby case,” The Washington Post, March 24, 2014. Archived March 12, 2020. Archive.ph URL:https://archive.vn/wip/2iLwV

“This is a very significant case for the United States,” Carrie Severino wrote in the National Review. “At stake are conscience rights, not only for these plaintiffs, but for all people of faith whose religious beliefs govern the way they do business or earn a living. Our brief argues that the reasons given by the government for forcing these objectors to provide free contraceptives to employees are insufficiently important to require overriding the objectors’ conscience rights.”21Carrie Campbell Severino. “JEP Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood,” National Review, January 28, 2014. Archived March 12, 2020. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.vn/wip/uj811

Contact & Address

According to the Judicial Education Project’s 2018 IRS Form 990, the group’s address is:

Suite 268, 3220 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
(561) 563-3547

Social Media

Other Resources

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Resources

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