There’s no shortage of leftist mega-donors for funding America’s “progressive” revolution. Meet the newest billionaire backing it: Reid Hoffman, whose campaign to destroy Donald Trump is matched only by the scale of his #MeToo hypocrisy.
Disinformation for Democrats
Hoffman’s role in funding the “bots” wasn’t discovered until December 2018, more than a year later. By then, AET had run a similar $400,000 Facebook bot campaign to discourage Republican turnout in the 2018 midterms under the banner “News for Democracy.”
In red states like Texas and Kansas, News for Democracy’s pages garnered 16 million impressions because they were engineered to look like the product of frustrated conservatives, rather than paid leftists. Republican voters, the ads said, should stay home in November or vote for Democrats to punish Republicans for betraying “real conservatives.”
“Better with Age,” “Women for Chivalry,” “Our Flag Our Country,” “Living Free,” and “the Holy Tribune”—each ad was replete with patriotic imagery (e.g. American flags) and left-leaning messages on the 2018 election’s top issue: Healthcare. Per the Atlantic:
A series of ads running on Tuesday showed different people describing their health challenges and how their [Obamacare-provided] health insurance was helping them. In one ad, an older woman describes her daughter’s struggles with diabetes. In another, a young father talks about his autoimmune diseases. Their message is the same: Republicans want to take away protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, and that would hurt the nice, relatable people in the videos [emphasis added].
News for Democracy itself is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit run by the Colorado LLC MotiveAI, which uses the front for its ad buys targeting numerous demographics to undercut Republican support—with investment capital from Investing in US and the Arabella Advisors “dark money” network, among others. Dmitri Mehlhorn, who sits on News for Democracy’s board, reportedly pitched donors to fund its “outreach to groups that were center [and] center-right . . . trying to reach out to them with messages.”
According to an October 2018 FEC complaint from the conservative Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, News for Democracy created Facebook pages and paid MotiveAI to create thousands of ads for them—$5.6 million’s worth from August–November 2018. By one estimate, that’s more than 56 times more money than was supposedly spent by Russia in 2016.
It’s also enough to qualify News for Democracy as an unregistered political action committee with independent expenditures. MotiveAI allegedly bragged that, thanks to the scheme, it ran “the largest digital program of the 2018 midterm elections” with 5,000 ads that flipped 28 congressional seats, winning back the House of Representatives for the Democrats.
And they did it again in 2020, this time with a campaign called “Meme 2020” meant to boost Michael Bloomberg’s chances in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary courtesy of more Hoffman bucks. This time, however, News for Democracy pulled in a new partner, the Lincoln Project, to register new voters for mail-in ballots. From the Meme 2020 CEO:
We found that memes that were intended to be explicitly anti-Trump weren’t as persuasive as those that weren’t so explicit. People have become so good at identifying when the voice of the meme feels like it’s coming from the left, and it forces the right to entrench. Memes that are cloaked in a way to slightly make fun of the left first, then lean into a hard critique of Trump, end up moving both moderates and Republicans in the intended direction [emphasis added].
Kristol-izing Fake News in 2024
Nor was that Hoffman’s only dabbling in disinformation. One of Investing in US’ first ventures was ACRONYM, which runs a network of “progressive” groups headed by Tara McGowan, a Obama 2012 campaign staffer-turned-“resistance” operative. ACRONYM spent $100 million on a digital ad campaign to defeat Trump in 2020. Among its subsidiaries is Courier Newsroom, which since 2017 has spawned a nexus of partisan state propaganda sites posing as independent news outlets such as the Virginia Dogwood and UpNorthNews in Wisconsin.
In October 2021, McGowan left ACRONYM to run the Project for Good Information to combat online “disinformation and misinformation” with funding from Hoffman and George Soros, in part by funding approved leftist “news” groups. In practice, that meant acquiring Courier Newsroom (for an undisclosed sum), debunking 2020 election “conspiracy theories,” and providing in-house local news to other outlets free of charge.
One suggested grantee is the Bulwark, the rabidly NeverTrump site led by Sarah Longwell, Charlie Sykes, and Bill Kristol, widely considered a haven for bitter liberal ex-Republicans also supported by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. In August 2020, Dmitri Melhorn used the Bulwark to accuse Trump of “steal[ing]” the 2020 election—three months before Election Day—and “far-right militia groups in camo” of suppressing voters in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Hoffman went all in on defeating Trump in the 2020 election, shelling out $4.5 million in independent expenditures (TV ads) in coordination with the Lincoln Project to unseat the President and elect Joe Biden. (FEC documents show that he filed the expenditures using the address of Olson Remcho, a top Sacramento political law firm headed by the counsel for the California Democratic Party and Gavin Newsom’s 2022 gubernatorial campaign.)
He gave $1.5 million to the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country and $3.2 million into congressional races and leftist groups, including Stacey Abrams’ get-out-the-vote group Fair Fight. In 2022, he contributed another $3.2 million to federal races, most of it through the Democratic National Committee and its affiliates.
In all, Forbes ranked Hoffman as the 17th-biggest billionaire spender in the 2020 cycle at over $15 million.
Hoffman was a key donor to Janet Protasiewicz’s campaign in the April 2023 Wisconsin Supreme Court race, which flipped the high court to “progressive” control for the first time in decades. Now the Protasiewicz court is weighing lawsuits that would gerrymander the state’s Republican-drawn legislative maps to boost Democrats, return drop boxes next year, and abolish the signature witness requirement for absentee ballots (with Marc Elias’ help).
The Hoffman Network
Besides funding politics directly, Hoffman funds and chairs the boards of a handful of nonprofits: the San Francisco-based 501(c)(3) Aphorism Foundation, Patriotic Republic, and American Future Republic, the latter of which are Chicago-based 501(c)(4) advocacy groups. The groups have virtually no online presence.
The Aphorism Foundation paid out $200 million in grants between 2015 and 2021 (its latest annual disclosure). At $24.5 million, its top recipient is the Schwab Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund provider that passes grants from donors to third-party recipients, washing their identities in the process.
But the Aphorism Foundation gifted $25 million to establish the Barack Obama Foundation and $12 million more to the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a research organization whose board includes Hoffman. Other recipients include the “green” groups EcoAmerica and Dream Corps; Integrity First, an anti-Trump litigation group; and the New Venture Fund, part of the $1.6 billion “dark money” network run by Arabella Advisors.
American Future Republic infamously bankrolled E. Jean Carroll’s April 2023 lawsuit alleging Trump had raped the former New York Magazine writer—who previously claimed that no one was paying her legal fees. A New York judge forced Trump to pay $5 million in damages for “sexual abuse” and defamation (for colorfully denying the allegations on social media).
Between them, Hoffman’s (c)(4) groups have pumped tens of millions of dollars into lobbying groups, including:
- Arabella Advisors’ Sixteen Thirty Fund and North Fund, which support D.C. statehood and abolishing the Electoral College;
- Tides Advocacy, the advocacy arm of the Tides Foundation;
- Piedmont Rising, a Philadelphia group that spent millions of dollars trying to defeat Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in North Carolina in 2022 with 6-figure political ads made to look like a news publication;
- The get-out-the-vote group Latino Victory Project;
- Center for American Progress Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the Left’s Heritage Foundation knock-off; and
- Bill Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together (beautifully acronym-ed “DDT”)
Hoffman’s influence also won him a seat on the board of New America. Like Third Way, New America is a faux-centrist think tank created by ex-Obama officials to peel off moderate voters from the Republican Party. One of its campaigns is “Spreading the Gospel of Climate Change,” which quietly advises activists on using pseudo-biblical talking points to form a “solid beachhead” within Evangelical churches on global warming. It’s cynical environmentalism with a soothing Christian veneer—one New America boasted in 2015 that they were propping up pastors in “a sort of ‘rent-an-Evangelical’” scam to fool conservative Christians.
Until 2019, Hoffman was on the board of Forward U.S. (styled FWD.US), Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration expansion advocacy group. Forward US is one of the group behind the push to abolish cash bail in New York and other states, one of the reasons behind the recent explosion in crime rates in America’s biggest cities.
He’s also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the foreign policy think tank for globalism which publishes Foreign Affairs magazine, as well as the U.S. Defense Innovation Board (chaired by Michael Bloomberg), Silicon Valley’s advisory body for the U.S. military.
Sabotaging the 2024 Election
In June 2023, the Washington Post reported a secret gathering of ex-Republicans and top Democratic operatives to discuss strategies to defeat the No Labels Party, a new committee looking to run an as-yet undeclared spoiler candidate in the 2024 election.
Democratic operatives believe that “most of the attrition” from a No Labels Party presidential nominee would come from Biden’s “fragile coalition.” One contender is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D), who announced he was “thinking seriously” about leaving the Democratic Party in August.
Dmitri Mehlhorn was among the secret conference’s attendees, which also included Biden chief of staff Ron Klain and DNC senior advisor Cedric L. Richmond; Bill Kristol and Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen; ex-Obama political director Patrick Dillon, whose wife is Biden’s deputy chief of staff; and former Sens. Doug Jones (AL), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Claire McCaskill (MO).
So far, stopping No Labels has meant pumping $1 million from Hoffman into the think tank Third Way to brief leftist groups and unions “about the dangers of their members’ supporting third-party candidates instead of [President] Biden.”
It’s worth noting that Third Way positions itself as a centrist alternative to the far Left, which is undoubtedly why Hoffman & Co. picked it to win back moderate Democrats. In reality, the group’s run by Clinton-era Democrats and supports virtually every policy on the Left. Its anti-No Labels Party campaign is also run in coordination with MoveOn—a Soros-funded “progressive” group founded by activists wishing to “move on” from Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky sex scandal and subsequent impeachment—and aided by Democrat super-lawyer Marc Elias, who aims to keep No Labels candidates off the 2024 ballot in Arizona and other key states.
We also know that in early 2023 Hoffman and Mehlhorn were having “closed-door discussions” about ways to influence the 2024 Republican primary by boosting Ron DeSantis’ campaign to undermine Trump—two months before the Florida governor officially announced his bid for president. “I will spend as much as I possibly can and it takes and is effective [to beat Trump],” Hoffman announced in a podcast interview, adding that unlike Trump, DeSantis doesn’t pose an “existential threat to democracy.” (Nevertheless, this writer has not found any money from Hoffman or Mehlhorn in the Republican primary as of writing.)
Whether these plots to influence the coming election succeed remains unclear. But they reveal just how vital Hoffman’s become for the Left’s political strategy in 2024 and beyond.
Conservatives were rightly outraged by the smear campaign against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh perpetrated by Christine Blasey Ford during his 2018 confirmation process. Ford, a Palo Alto psychology professor, accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her at a high school party decades before—though she couldn’t remember any particulars and there was no evidence the pair had even met.
Less known was Hoffman’s role in l’affaire Blasey:The billionaire lent his private plane and hired a flight attendant for Ford’s travel from California to Washington, D.C. “We believed then, as we do now, that it’s important to take seriously accusations of violence against women,” Hoffman said.
Then the world learned about Hoffman’s relationship to the notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Living in a Pervert’s Paradise
The story is complicated. Hoffman’s involvement is closely connected to another left-wing luminary, Joi Ito, a Japanese venture capitalist who ran the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab from 2011 to September 2019, when outcry over the millions of dollars he received from Epstein—and later tried to conceal—forced him to resign in disgrace.
That was just the first blow: Ito was next unceremoniously ousted from a visiting professorship at Harvard, and the boards of the New York Times Company and MacArthur and Knight Foundations, two of the Left’s biggest mega-funders.
We know that Hoffman visited Epstein’s “pedophile island,” Little St. James, at least once in 2014 with Ito as part of a MIT Media Lab fundraising trip. The pair planned to return later that year and then fly with Epstein to his Manhattan townhouse in December, then attend a “breakfast party” the following morning with Epstein and Bill Gates. Hoffman claims that his last interaction with the pedophile was in 2015, when he invited Epstein to a private dinner in Palo Alto with Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk.
When the scandal broke four years later, Thiel and Musk distanced themselves from Epstein; Hoffman reportedly did not.
It’s worth pointing out that when the #MeToo movement launched in 2017, Hoffman quickly positioned himself as a “moral authority” on rape and sexual harassment, calling for a “decency pledge” (complete with its own Twitter hashtag) to expose “bad behavior” among venture capitalists. “This behavior occurs in our industry not just because some believe it’s no big deal, but also because those who do find it unacceptable don’t do enough to actively discourage it,” he blasted on LinkedIn.
A few months prior in 2016, he provided funding for the MIT Media Lab’s new Disobedience Award given to “individuals and groups who engage in responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging norms, rules, or laws that sustain society’s injustices.” In 2017, the lab gave one of its award replicas to Epstein.
A year later, the $250,000 award went to the #MeToo movement’s founders, one of whom, it was later discovered, had fabricated her Twitter account to “falsely pose as a Native American scientist.”
When the scandal erupted in September 2019, one of the award’s jurors, ex-New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, demanded that Ito’s correspondence with Epstein be made public. Hoffman allegedly accused him of making it “all about you” and Giridharadas resigned in protest, calling Hoffman one of Epstein’s “plutocratic backers” who “found time . . . to attack me before you’ve said one word critical of those who abetted a predatory felon of the worst variety by selling him reflected prestige.” The Disobedience Award was quickly canceled.
“It gnaws at me that, by lending my association, I helped his [Epstein’s] reputation, and thus delayed justice for his survivors,” Hoffman says in his defense. Elsewhere he’s blamed Ito for lying to him about Epstein’s character.
Gnawing, indeed. Hoffman’s remarks came in May 2023—nearly four years after the first Epstein revelations—in a new Wall Street Journal report detailing the predator’s relationships with America’s richest elites.
The Epstein scandal sent those elites scurrying for cover like so many cockroaches. Their activities on “pedophile island” still remain a mystery. The reader will form his own conclusions, but if you ask Reid Hoffman’s AI chatbot, he’ll deny almost everything.
In May 2023, the Free Beacon quizzed the chatbot Pi—created by the firm Inflection AI with venture capital from Hoffman—about Jeffrey Epstein’s connections, the program details his criminal history and relationship with Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and other prominent figures. But not Hoffman. The chatbot seemed “incredulous” that he would have dealings with someone “known for his criminal activities and his involvement in human trafficking.”
‘I haven’t heard of any such relationship. Is that a real thing?’ Pi told the Free Beacon in a chat Wednesday night. ‘It seems like a pretty unlikely pairing. Epstein was a wealthy financier with a bad reputation, and Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur and investor.’ According to Pi, the pairing is unlikely because Hoffman is known ‘for his philanthropy and his commitment to social justice.’
All reports to the contrary, Pi insists, are “based on false information.” Inflection AI didn’t comment.
And who’s surprised? America is awash in ungrateful, pretentious, “progressive” ideologues who’ve used capitalism to build unimaginably vast fortunes, then used those fortunes to tear the country apart. Our tech sector was once the envy of the world; today it’s a monument to secular materialism with all its license, carnality, and cynicism.
That’s the inevitable fruit of the Left’s ideology—call it Marxism or globalism—which demands people be morally upright (see #MeToo) while denying the objective truth that morality is founded upon. Put another way, leftists must steal authority from the Christian worldview to seem “pure” because they cannot live consistently with their own worldview. What is a progressive “progressing” toward?
A century ago, Christian virtue inspired genuine charity from wealthy Americans who wanted to express their gratitude to the country and God. Their philanthropy, the Christ-centered love of one’s fellow Man, spoke volumes about our nation’s righteousness. Now it’s a sign of national decline.
Nothing better captures that hypocrisy than mega-donors like Reid Hoffman, the Soros of Silicon Valley, who style themselves great philanthropists in the vein of Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller Sr., or Andrew Carnegie. Those men built libraries, universities, and entire cities for the public good. Hoffman and his fellow plutocrats want praise for funding grubby political activism.
It’s time for Americans to relearn an important lesson from Scripture: If you want to be great, first be good.
Hayden Ludwig is director of research for Restoration of America