Incorporation records reveal new details about a ‘dark money’ group pouring millions into 2022 midterms • OpenSecrets
Documents obtained by OpenSecrets shed new light on the mysterious “dark money” group Defending America Together, which has poured millions of dollars from undisclosed donors into recent midterm elections in Pennsylvania and Alabama.
According to a certificate of incorporation obtained by OpenSecrets, Erick Todd used a personal mailbox address in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to incorporate Defending America Together, Inc. in Lewes, Del.
Defending America Together was incorporated on Jan. 10, 2022, as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization formed and operated exclusively for “the promotion of social welfare.” These groups are generally not required to disclose their donors, and their “primary” purpose is not supposed to be political activities.
Defending America Together has not publicized any social welfare activities, but a corporation with the same name contributed $5 million to super PACs that spent big in the Alabama and Pennsylvania primaries. Three itemized receipts filed with the FEC list Defending America Together’s address as a post office box address at a UPS store in Phoenix, Ariz.
According to the certificate of incorporation, Defending America Together has no members, capital stock or stockholders, but it does have a board of directors that wields “[t]he entire voting power for all purposes.” In Delaware, individuals can incorporate a company without disclosing the names of members, managers or in this case, the board of directors.
Todd listed an address in Miramar Plaza in San Juan to incorporate Defending America Together. The document states Todd “may work remotely from his residence in Puerto Rico,” but the nature of his work or position within the group is unclear.
After Todd incorporated Defending America Together, Harvard Business Services Inc. became the registered agent for the new company. Harvard Business Services has been “forming Delaware companies for more than 40 years,” according to their website. They also tout the lowest registered agency fee in the industry, just $50.
Harvard Business Services President Michael Bell confirmed the company is the registered agent for Defending America Together, but told OpenSecrets he is “not aware of any of this company’s business activities and we have no other affiliation with it other than we’re just the registered agent in Delaware.”
Dark money spending in Alabama and Pennsylvania
Defending America Together has made three contributions totaling $5 million since January.
On Jan. 20, 10 days after Todd incorporated the group, Defending America Together made its first contribution. The group gave $1 million to America’s Promise, and it gave another $1 million to the super PAC on March 9. America’s Promise contributed over $3.1 million to the Alabama Patriots PAC, a different super PAC supporting Michael Durant in Tuesday’s Alabama Senate GOP primary.
Defending America Together is the top contributor to America’s Promise, which also used a UPS post office box, this one in Arlington, Va., to register with the FEC and make contributions. The treasurer for America’s Promise, Jacob Harriman, is also the founder and CEO of More Perfect Union, a group that aims to elect moderate Senators from both parties. More Perfect Union also listed the Arlington UPS Store as its principal office address, according to the Virginia State Corporation Commission entity registration.
Three-quarters of the total $4.2 million disbursed by America’s Promise so far during the 2022 election cycle went to the Alabama Patriots PAC.
Durant lost the primary, but not until the Alabama Patriots PAC poured almost $4.3 million into media production and placement supporting him and an additional $363,000 against Republican primary opponents Rep. Mo Brooks (R–Ala.) and Katie Britt. Brooks and Britt will compete in a runoff on June 21.
On March 15, Defending America Together contributed $3 million to the Pennsylvania Conservative Fund, which spent $3 million opposing celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the contentious Pennsylvania Senate GOP primary.
Pennsylvania Conservative Fund raised $3.5 million ahead of the primary. The other $500,000 came from billionaire investor Thomas Tull.
The Senate primary race in Pennsylvania went to an automatic recount on Wednesday, with less than 1,000 votes separating Oz and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick, a slim margin that a few extra million dollars in media and direct mail financed by the outside spending group may have impacted.
Defending America Together provided a post office box address at a UPS store in Phoenix, Ariz. when it made these contributions in Alabama and Pennsylvania. “If you’re a business owner,” explains the UPS Store website, “having a real street address as your mailbox can provide you with a professional image for your business.”
A representative of the UPS store listed was unable to provide the name of the person who registered the Arizona mailbox citing U.S. Postal regulations.
“About half or more of our box holders are business, we just sort their mail,” the store representative told OpenSecrets.
Editorial and Investigations Manager Anna Massoglia contributed to this report.