A little-known Texas billionaire has given millions to organizations across the country that combat the spread of “disinformation” and “misinformation,” a records review shows.
John Arnold has donated more than $13.7 million through his LLC, Arnold Ventures, to five groups connected to the effort to stop the spread of alleged disinformation and misinformation — an undertaking that is frequently criticized by conservatives as promoting politically biased censorship.
The former Enron executive formed the ostensibly nonpartisan LLC with his wife, Laura Arnold, according to the Washington Examiner. The company manages financial giving for a number of Arnold-affiliated organizations and last year awarded more than $409 million in grants, according to its website.
Both private industry and the Biden administration have attempted to curb supposed erroneous information in recent years, with Arnold Ventures claiming on its website that “the rise of disinformation” has “threatened to undermine” journalism. The LLC gave more than $45 million for criminal justice reform in New York that Republicans say has contributed to a sharp increase in crime.
According to the Examiner, in 2018, Arnold Ventures joined other groups in financing a partnership with Facebook that analyzed democracy, elections, and the tech company’s “ability to fight the spread of misinformation and foreign interference.”
The company’s grants database shows that Arnold Ventures has doled out tens of million in journalism grants, including a $9.7 million grant given between 2019 and 2021 to the American Journalism Project (AJP).
The AJP invests in local news nonprofit groups and received $4.2 million from the Democracy Fund, a foundation set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar that has given millions to fight purported misinformation and disinformation.
“In the absence of trusted news sources, we see targeted disinformation campaigns, including efforts to spread misinformation through social networks and websites masquerading as news brands,” the AJP states on its website.
The Media Democracy Fund supports the idea of the government having more regulatory control over the internet and is an offshoot of the New Venture Fund, which is managed by Arabella Advisors, the largest liberal dark money network in the country. Arnold Ventures gave more than $13.5 million to the New Venture Fund between 2016 and 2020, according to the LLC’s grants database.
Between 2013 and 2019, Arnold Ventures shelled out more than $1.1 million to MapLight, a liberal nonprofit that tracks money and politics in elections.
The Social Science Research Council, a New York nonprofit that performs research in the social sciences, received $1.5 million from Arnold Ventures between 2018 and 2022, records show. The grants were partially to support the council’s Social Media and Democracy Initiative, which is tied to Omidyar’s Democracy Fund.
In 2020, Arnold Ventures gave $500,000 to Global Witness, a California-based nonprofit that investigates “the exploitation of natural resources” by public and private organizations, according to the LLC’s grants database.
“The Arnolds’ philanthropy began years ago with a mix of conservative and left-wing causes, but over time it has moved consistently leftward, probably from a combination of pressure from their Big Philanthropy peers and the staff they’ve hired,” Scott Walter, president of Capital Research Center, a conservative investigative think tank, told the Examiner.
“It’s especially sad to see them backing the left-wing scam of cancel culture camouflaged under the label of fighting misinformation and disinformation,” he added.
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