Exposing No Labels

No Labels announced yesterday it was standing down from its plans to run a third-party presidential ticket after it could not find candidates to carry its banner.

Since the start of last year, Sludge has focused on digging into the group’s paperwork. In a series of stories, we exposed the extensive corporate ties of No Labels’ D.C. leaders, named more of its billionaire funders, and revealed the companies that have given it donations.

We do this work as a two-person muckraking newsroom. We page through far-flung filings, research the people and organizations affiliated with Big Money interests, and send out what we find to newsreaders like you.

If you value this money-in-politics information coming to light, subscribe to Sludge for $5 a month and keep us digging.

When No Labels claimed it did not accept corporate funding, Sludge showed they had, in fact, for over a decade, with donors including utility companies PG&E and Sempra, Fortune 500 companies Coca-Cola and Qualcomm, and oil & gas exploration company Pioneer Natural Resources. We discovered these records by scouring years of disclosures for individual companies. 

Sludge was also first to report that No Labels quietly transferred $2.4 million in 2021 to a new organization that would house its presidential plan. In subsequent stories, we surfaced new information about the secretive No Labels:

  • Almost all of a slice of disclosed donors were corporate executives or their spouses.
  • Two longtime board members quietly dropped off the board, along with one louder departure.
  • One of the group’s “Problem Solvers” PACs funneled six-figure sums to U.S. House members, much of it from private equity and finance executives. Donors included billionaire hedge fund investor Howard Marks.
  • Harlan Crow, Republican megadonor and billionaire benefactor of Clarence Thomas, donated to No Labels’ super PAC.

It’s hard to get a response for news stories from the transparency-averse No Labels, but our work succeeded. After our story on its corporate donors came out, No Labels broke its silence and emailed us to say it had stopped taking corporate donations in January 2023, the first time it publicly acknowledged having taken corporate money and when it decided to stop. 

There are many more political groups backed by large corporations, dark money nonprofits, and wealthy individuals that are spending tens of millions of dollars to influence the outcomes of the upcoming elections. By joining as a subscriber at just $5 a month, or $50 for a year, you can help us keep doing our corruption-focused reporting. You’ll receive access to our full investigative stories as the 2024 election year heats up and billionaires move money to sway voters.

Thank you,

—David and Donald, Sludge

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