These types of spending – which are usually handled through nonprofit groups that don’t need to disclose much information about their finances, including their donors – have been welcomed by conservatives after regulatory changes and court rulings, particularly those of the Supreme Court, eased campaign spending restrictions were made in 2010 in the Citizens United case.
While progressives and election guards denounced the developments as too powerful for wealthy interests, democratic donors and activists increasingly used dark money. During the 2020 election cycle, Democratic-affiliated groups spent more than $ 514 million on such funds, compared to approximately $ 200 million spent by Republican-affiliated groups, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Some of the groups funded by Mr Wyss’ organizations played a key role in this shift, although the relatively limited disclosure requirements for these types of groups make it impossible to definitively conclude how they have spent funds from the Wyss companies.
Mr. Wyss and his advisors have developed a “strategic, evidence-based, metric-driven and results-oriented approach to building a political infrastructure,” said Rob Stein, a democratic strategist.
Mr. Stein, who founded the influential Democracy Alliance Club of Big Liberal Donors in 2005 and recruited Mr. Wyss to join, added that “unlike most affluent political donors right and left,” Mr. Wyss and his team “know how is going to achieve measurable, sustainable effects. “
85-year-old Wyss was born in Bern, visited the USA for the first time in 1958 as an exchange student and was enthusiastic about the American national parks and public areas. After getting rich and running Swiss-based medical device manufacturer Synthes, he began donating his fortune through a network of nonprofit organizations to promote nature conservation, environmental protection, and other issues.
The organizations gradually increased their donations for other Democrat-backed causes, including abortion rights and minimum wage increases, and eventually for groups more directly involved in partisan debates, especially after the election of Mr Trump.