Rule of Law Trust

The Rule of Law Trust is a 501(c)(4) group founded in 2018.

About Rule of Law Trust

Rule of Law Trust Appears to Be Used Primarily as a Pass-Through to Hide the Identities of Wealthy Donors Seeking to Influence Supreme Court Nominations, and for Other Conservative Causes

Leonard Leo, Trustee  

Leonard Leo is the sole employee listed on RLT’s tax forms. Leo was “widely known as a confidant to Trump” and served as Trump’s Supreme Court advisor during the nominations of Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch.

Leo has been called “arguably the most powerful figure in the federal justice system” with his “network of interlocking nonprofits” that aggressively support conservative judges. 

  • One of these nonprofits is the Federalist Society, which cultivates judicial nominees in support of the conservative movement’s fight to take over the courts.
  • Leo operates a series of nonprofits that can move money without public scrutiny, such as the 85 Fund, the BH Fund, America Engaged, and the Freedom and Opportunity Fund.


Leo has personal and professional ties to Justice Clarence Thomas, who is an original faculty member of the Federalist Society and a frequent speaker at the organization’s events. 

  • Thomas has hired Leo’s PR firm CRC Advisors to promote his memoir and a biographical documentary.


Neil Corkery, Founder

Neil Corkery founded RLT in 2018. He and his wife Ann Corkery are influential right-wing operatives closely involved in Leonard Leo’s network of nonprofits seeking to advance religious right-wing agendas. Salon reported that the Corkerys have used the network they built alongside Leonard Leo “to prop up conservative judicial nominees


Right-Wing Religious Activism

  • Ann Corkery served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Commission on Women under President George W. Bush. She fought to institute a ban on human cloning at the UN.
  • Ann Corkery was also a board member at The Becket Fund and The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.


Media Ties

  • Neil and Ann Corkery were involved in efforts to promote conservative entertainment media. Ann worked with Friends of Abe, a group of Hollywood conservatives who aim to push back on the industry’s perceived liberal bias and was an associate producer on a movie mocking Michael Moore. Neil is the former CEO of Wedgewood Circle, a group that aims to fund “redemptive cultural content.”


Connections to the Leonard Leo Network

  • The Corkerys helped launch Leonard Leo’s Judicial Crisis Network. Leonard Leo and Neil Corkery conceived the Judicial Crisis Network at a dinner party attended by conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Leo and Corkery wanted to create an organization to help confirm conservative nominees in anticipation of Supreme Court vacancies that George W. Bush ultimately filled with Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.


Leonard Leo’s Marble Freedom Trust identifies Neil Corkery as the organization’s bookkeeper, according to their 2020 990.

RLT drew in $80 million in 2018. The group kept its expenditures relatively low for its first two years in operation, though it ramped up its spending in 2020. Over its lifetime, RLT has given out $36.9 million to various groups – most of them right-wing, Leonard Leo-linked groups. Of that lifetime $36.9 million, $21.5 million was a one-time payment to the Judicial Crisis Network in 2020, just prior to JCN’s multi-million dollar campaign to support Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. See the appendix for a full list of payments.


Judicial Crisis Network: $21,500,000

Judicial Crisis Network is the lynchpin of hard-right activist Leonard Leo’s efforts to capture the court system and has led campaigns that resulted in the confirmation of five Supreme Court justices.  

In 2020, RLT gave $21.5 million to the Judicial Crisis Network. In September 2020, eight days after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judicial Crisis Network announced its plans to spend $10 million on an ad blitz supporting the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. This $21.5 million donation from RLT to JCN makes up nearly 59 percent of all payments to other groups made by RLT.


Donors Trust: $5,793,800

Donors Trust and its affiliate organization, Donors Capital Fund, are two of the most influential conservative organizations in contemporary American politics. In 2013, Mother Jones dubbed Donors Trust the “dark-money ATM of the right.” Donors Trust was founded by a pair of libertarian activists who wanted to give wealthy donors the ability to anonymously donate to conservative causes without any of the potential inter-generational conflicts of family foundations. By giving their money to Donors Trust, donors could influence the course of American politics long after their death and without the possibility that their heirs might decide to support liberal causes instead. In 2020 alone, Donors Trust distributed over $185 million in grants.

  • Grants from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund accounted for approximately 87% of funding for another Leonard Leo funding group, the 85 Fund. While Donors Trust primarily acts as a funding group for the 85 Fund, the organizations will sometimes transfer funds to one another in both directions.


Barton Group LLC: $2,590,000

The Barton Group was incorporated in 2019 in Virginia by Jason Torchinsky, of the Leonard Leo-connected law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky. That same year, RLT paid the Barton Group $2.59 million for “consulting.” The Barton Group does not have a public presence or website. In 2021, Torchinsky incorporated Barton Group II LLC – which similarly has no public presence.

Holtzman Vogel has a history of setting up entities with no public presence to further Leo’s network which allows him to shuffle money around to further his political goals. In 2016, the firm set up three Leo-controlled nonprofits: America Engaged, BH Fund, and Freedom and Opportunity Fund. These three entities have since been used to funnel millions to organizations that boosted the Supreme Court nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Leonard Leo became the president of all three organizations at the time of their formation, and within the first two years of incorporation, these three groups raised about $33 million. However, Leo’s involvement with these groups was not known to the public for three years.


Jonathan Bunch: $1,540,000

Jonathan Bunch is a former senior vice president at the Federalist Society who has been described as Leonard Leo’s “right-hand man.” Bunch has been involved in several Leo-linked entities and is currently the president of CRC Advisors, a public relations consulting firm Leo founded in 2020. CRC Advisors grew out of CRC Strategies, a consulting firm that played a key role in supporting Leo’s efforts to influence the Supreme Court and federal judiciary.

From 2007 to 2008, Jonathan Bunch was the executive director of “Better Courts for Missouri,” a nonprofit organization that aimed to fundamentally alter the state’s merit-based judicial nomination process

  • Better Courts sought to replace Missouri’s selection method for state appeals court judges — called the Missouri Plan — where the governor appointed a nominee from a list curated by special judicial nominating committees. JCN proposed an inherently partisan system that would give the governor power to nominate any individual to the commission, subject to Senate confirmation. The group also spearheaded a ballot measure to allow the governor to appoint a majority of the commission’s members.
  • The Missouri Bar Association and the judiciary overwhelmingly supported keeping the state’s existing judicial selection system, contending that “the process diminishes the politics behind selections.”
  • Critics of Bunch’s group called their proposal “a GOP power grab” to give the governor more power as “the state is getting redder and redder.” The president of the Missouri Bar said Better Courts’ proposal would “make partisan politics the heart and soul” of selecting judges.


Better Courts’ strategy reflects the Leo network’s typical playbook at the state level. In Iowa, Judicial Crisis Network financed a 2018 campaign that advocated for giving partisan legislators the power to select members of judicial nomination commissions, “meaning politicians will choose every member.” 

  • Iowa’s existing system — where half of the commissioners were selected by the governor and half were elected by licensed lawyers — was meant to “emphasize legal experience while keeping politics at arm’s length.” 


This campaign led to a more conservative Iowa Supreme Court that struck down abortion rights and upheld a policy that allows police officers to charge drivers with crimes other than what they were stopped for, which was criticized for being racially discriminatory.


America Engaged: $895,000

America Engaged is a non-profit within the Leo network formed by Leo with no public presence. In 2017, American Engaged gave $1 million to the National Rifle Association (NRA); that same year, the NRA announced a $1 million ad campaign supporting Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination. 


YAS LLC, $775,000

YAS LLC is a consulting firm incorporated by CRC Advisors Senior Vice President Maria Marshall. CRC Advisors was launched in 2020 with Leonard Leo as its founder and is a spin-off of CRC Strategies, a consulting firm that played a key role in supporting Leo’s efforts to influence the Supreme Court and federal judiciary.

Marshall was the director of operations at the Federalist Society from 2012 to 2020. She is also a board member of the Orthodox Christian Network, which produces Orthodox Christian content on behalf of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. 


Holtzman Vogel: $688,015

Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky is a boutique law firm that represents “some of the nation’s largest super PACs and their related nonprofits on the conservative side, including American Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity, the Honest Elections Project, the BH Fund, the Freedom and Opportunity Fund, and American Engaged among others. According to McClatchy, Holtzman Vogel “specializ[es] in creative legal maneuvers that allow donors to conservative causes to remain anonymous.” 

  • Holtzman Vogel employs many longtime Republican operatives. Founder, partner, and namesake of the firm Jill Holtzman Vogel is a Republican state senator in Virginia currently serving her fourth term. Vogel has been described as a “dark-money superlawyer” by the Washington Post


People United For Privacy: $500,000

People United for Privacy is an advocacy group that opposes political financial disclosure regulations, claiming “disclosure rules are being abused to silence opponents.” The group attempts to build local coalitions and distribute model legislation that aims to restrict donor disclosure regulations. According to watchdog The Center For Media And Democracy, People United for Privacy is a “front group” launched by State Policy Network in 2016. SPN is an alliance of think tanks pushing conservative and libertarian policy at the state level connected to the Koch Brothers political network and other national conservative think tanks.

People United For Privacy has also received notable funding from Wellspring Committee; another Leonard Leo-connected funding group.


Regnery Publishing: $230,000

Regnery Publishing is a leading publisher of books by conservative and right-wing thinkers. The New York Times called its founder, Henry Regnery, the “godfather of modern conservatism” due to his elevation of influential conservative thinkers such as William F. Buckley.

In 2018, RLT paid Regnery Publishing $230,000 for “research.” In 2019, Regnery published Justice On Trial by Judicial Crisis Watch president Carrie Severino. Justice On Trial chronicled Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process. The book aimed to debunk the allegations against Kavanaugh and paint him as a victim of a liberal press junket. A Politico review of the book said that it “was so one-sided that it read more like a legal brief written by two very competent and fiercely committed advocates.”

BH Group LLC

The BH Group was formed in Virginia in 2016, and the company’s Virginia business records do not list any staff. However, Leonard Leo is identified as an “authorized person” in a 2022 filing update with the Virginia State Corporation Commission regarding the organization’s registered agent. Leo listed the BH Group as his employer in a campaign finance filing.

In 2018, RLT reimbursed BH Group to the tune of $4,345,000 — more than RLT spent in that year. It reimbursed BH Group another $2,100,000 in 2019. Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW), a watchdog group, summarized the organization’s relationship, stating: “it appears that a firm partly owned by the sole trustee of RLT paid all of RLT’s expenses, including $1.8 million in consulting payments to two former Federalist Society associates who now work at a consulting firm founded by the trustee, and then RLT reimbursed that firm for the expenses.”


Marble Freedom Trust

Rule of Law Trust received a substantial $153 million grant from Leonard Leo’s Marble Freedom Trust in 2021. In Marble Freedom Trust’s inaugural tax filing, RLT was listed as a related entity. MFT is a nonprofit headed by Leonard Leo formed in 2020 that received an unprecedented $1.6 billion contribution in 2021 from electronics manufacturing mogul and conservative mega-donor Barre Seid. The single-gift contribution was likely the largest donation of its kind to a politically oriented nonprofit in American history.

Recipient Lifetime Total
Judicial Crisis Network $21,500,000
Donors Trust $5,793,800
Barton Group LLC $2,590,000
Jonathan Bunch $1,540,000
Baker Botts LLP $1,000,000
Fidelity Charitable $900,000
America Engaged $895,000
YAS LLC $775,000
Holtzman Vogel $688,015
People United For Privacy $500,000
Library Of Congress $250,000
Regnery Publishing $230,000
Merrill Lynch $209,750
Semmes Associates LLC $125,000


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