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Photo: Federalist Society/Matt Wood

Conservative powerhouse Leonard Leo tells Axios that he'll step aside from the daily running of the Federalist Society to focus on a new venture — inspired by Arabella Advisers on the left — that will funnel big money and expertise across the conservative movement.

Why it matters: Leo is considered one of the most powerful conservatives in the country, playing a key role in shaping President Trump's selections for the Supreme Court and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to fill the nation’s courts with conservative judges.

  • One of the first projects will be a "minimum of $10 million issue advocacy campaign focusing on judges in the 2020 cycle," Leo told Axios.
  • The new venture will be called CRC Advisors. Leo will remain co-chair of the Federalist Society's board.

Behind the scenes: Leo told Axios that he and his business partner, conservative communications executive Greg Mueller, studied tax filings that led them to Arabella, a little-known yet powerful consulting firm that advises liberal donors and nonprofits about where to spend their money.

  • Politico recently detailed its stunning reach and influence as part of "an unprecedented gusher of secret money" that "boosted Democrats and liberal causes in 2018."
  • The liberal network involves an organization called "the Hub Project," first covered in depth by the New York Times, and a non-profit called the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which Politico reported "spent $141 million on more than 100 left-leaning causes" in the 2018 midterms. That spending was fueled by "massive anonymous donations, including one gift totaling $51.7 million."
  • The network was tied to at least four dozen different trade names in 2018, "many of which have benign-sounding local titles like Arizonans United for Health Care and Floridians for a Fair Shake," per Politico.

Leo and Mueller told Axios that after studying Arabella's structure they were impressed — and saw the opportunity to build a replica on the right.

  • A spokesperson for Arabella Advisors took issue with Leo’s comments characterizing Arabella as a partisan organization aligned only with causes on the left, telling Axios: "Arabella Advisors is a consulting business that supports philanthropy. It provides advice and implementation support to clients with very different ideological and political viewpoints and many clients for whom politics and policy are not areas of interest."

Between the lines: The new venture will go beyond the anonymous money networks they've already built and weaponized in the conservative legal movement movement.

  • CRC Advisors will evolve out of Mueller’s existing conservative communications firm, CRC Strategies.
  • Mueller and Leo say they plan to work with two existing non-profit groups, which will be rebranded as the Concord Fund and the 85 Fund, to funnel tens of millions of dollars into conservative fights around the country.
  • The two men and their teams have plenty of experience raising and spending millions for judicial battles — including the recent fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — but they want to expand this to other issues like deregulation at the state and federal level.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Life for the unvaccinated could get more difficult as bosses increasingly move to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

The big picture: The federal Government in May said that it is legal for companies to require employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

White House: Over 500,000 new shots recorded Friday, highest since July 1

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The United States recorded more than half a million new COVID-19 vaccine shots on Friday, the highest number since July 1, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Why it matters: The Delta variant is continuing to spread across the United States and it now comprises over 80% of the coronavirus cases in the country, Jean-Pierre said. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that "vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death."

Biden to announce sanctions, other efforts to address crisis in Cuba amid protests

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will announce sanctions against one entity and two Cuban individuals this afternoon and provide details on his administration's efforts to improve internet connectivity in Cuba, a senior administration official said Friday.

Why it matters: After initially hoping to place the issue on the back burner, the White House has recently ramped up its focus on Cuba amid protests on the island and in the United States, congressional backlash and political pressure from the South Florida Cuban community.

  • The president is also expected to make announcements on remittances and plans for U.S. embassy augmentation, the official said.
  • The official noted that the administration is in talks with private sector providers about the possibility of providing wireless LTE communications to the Cuban people.
  • "Given the protest of July 11, it is important for U.S. diplomats to engage directly with the Cuban people and if we can do that in a way that ensures the safety of U.S. personnel, that is something that we will undertake," he said, noting that the president would announce more details later this afternoon.

The details: The president will meet today with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a Cuban-American, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), among other political and community leaders and artists.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an outspoken voice on Cuban issues, is not expected to attend the meeting.
  • The meeting follows a series of engagements by Cedric Richmond and the Office of Public Engagement with the Cuban-American community, the official said.

What they're saying: "We're gonna do everything we can to keep Cuba on the front burner, so we can keep the conversation on the rights of the Cuban people and their rights to manifest peacefully," the official said on the call with reporters.

Be smart: Cuba is a tricky political issue for Democrats, who are split on the matter. The president was defeated by Donald Trump in South Florida during the 2020 election, and Democrats fear similar results, particularly in the upcoming midterms, if they mishandle the situation.

Go deeper: The newly announced sanctions today will follow already imposed sanctions against Cuban officials and entities allegedly responsible for human rights abuses during the government's crackdown on island-wide protests earlier this month.