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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A dark-money nonprofit that spent millions in the 2020 election also funneled money to Democratic-aligned groups in Colorado, new documents show.

The budget for North Fund, a D.C. advocacy group that refused to reveal its contributors, shot up from $9.3 million in 2019 to nearly $50 million in 2020, according to previously unreported records filed with state regulators in Montana, Axios' Lachlan Markey scooped this week.

  • In 2019, North Fund gave at least $500,000 to Coloradans for Prosperity, the lead supporter of the failed Proposition CC ballot measure.
  • In 2020, North Fund spent $6.8 million to support Colorado ballot measures, mostly to get a paid leave measure approved.

What's new: In addition to the ballot spending, the new documents reveal that a handful of other progressive political organizations with ties to Colorado received money from the North Fund last year, John found.

  • The New Venture Fund received $500,000.
  • Colorado Black Women Empowerment Fund received $5,000.
  • The States Newsroom, which operates the progressive media outlet Colorado Newsline, received $85,000.

Why it matters: The North Fund is the latest progressive nonprofit to operate in ways that obscure key financial information from the public, even as it pushes for legislation to limit the role of so-called dark money in politics.

Of note: The new filings from Montana offer a preview of the organization's 2020 public tax documents, which are expected in November.

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Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
Jul 15, 2021 - Axios Denver

Federal aid flowed to big restaurants in Colorado, analysis shows

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The majority of federal relief dollars for Colorado restaurants went to only a fraction of the state's applicants, a new Axios Denver analysis finds.

Why it matters: The $28.6 billion program administered by the Biden administration — and championed by Colorado U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper — ran out of money and left thousands of businesses without access to the aid.

Legal complaint targets bipartisan front groups

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Both parties have surreptitiously funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into local-sounding front groups designed to keep voters in the dark about the money's D.C. origins, a watchdog group alleged in a legal complaint on Thursday.

Why it matters: "Pop-up" super PACs are widely used by both Democrats and Republicans to steer cash from deep-pocketed national groups aligned with congressional leaders into key battleground contests. The practice has proliferated in recent years, and such groups are already popping up in competitive contests this year.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Updated Jul 14, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa restaurants get payout from federal relief fund

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Iowa restaurant owners got $122 million from a federal relief fund, but many are still waiting for their payday.

Driving the news: The U.S. Small Business Administration released numbers Monday showing how much funding its Restaurant Revitalization Fund doled out to individual businesses.

Why it matters: The fund — which launched in May as part of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 — is more flexible than the Paycheck Protection Program loans that were initially offered to restaurants and bars during the pandemic.

  • Grant funds can cover everything from wage increases to remodeling.

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