‘No Labels’ Tax Forms Reveal Execs Cashing In on 2024 Hype
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This week, we look under the hood of the No Labels money machine. Plus, life after the Tim Scott campaign.
No Labels, No Worries
As the centrist group No Labels gears up to launch a 2024 third-party presidential bid—potentially spearheaded by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)—the nonprofit has declined to share virtually any information about who is supporting its ambitious challenge and how those funds are being spent.
There may be a good reason for that.
According to its most recent annual 990 tax form obtained by The Daily Beast, No Labels is flush with cash. It raised $21.2 million in 2022, a huge jump from the $11.3 million it raised in 2021, per the 990 that was reported by Politico last December. The group ended 2022 with about $20 million in the tank.
With that haul, No Labels could aim to make noise in the 2024 race, as the group insists it will. What they may prefer to keep quiet, however, are the lucrative paydays being doled out to the No Labels’ leadership team, which appear in the tax documents.
Nancy Jacobson, the group’s CEO, did not receive any salary in 2021, according to the 990 for that year. But the latest federal tax form shows Jacobson pulled in $300,000 last year.
The disgraced campaign journalist Mark Halperin—who was fired for alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault in 2017—has served as a “chief strategist” for No Labels. He got a nearly $100,000 raise, going from a salary of $240,753 in 2021 to $336,879 in 2022. (No Labels Spokesperson Maryanne Martini noted Halperin left the group earlier this year.)
Then there are the co-executive directors, with Margaret White making $315,440 for No Labels last year and Elizabeth Morrison taking home $203,975. The next highest earners were Megan Shannon at $160,833 for her work as the VP of development and McKinley Scholtz, the deputy director, at $134,723.
All told, No Labels’ top six officials pulled in $1.5 million in salary—averaging just over $240,000 per person—amounting to about half what the group spent on efforts for its candidate to qualify for the ballot next year.
“This 990 shows a striking jump in revenue for No Labels last year, and with it, substantial raises for No Labels officials,” Brendan Fischer, the deputy director of the watchdog group Documented, told The Daily Beast upon reviewing the document.
The latest No Labels tax filing is also notable for what it doesn’t include. Strategist Ryan Clancy—whose firm received $300,000 for “strategy services” according to the 2021 forms—is nowhere to be found on the No Labels tax returns from last year. But curiously, he is still prominently featured on the group’s homepage.
On top of Clancy’s firm, Capitol Advisors LLC—a Virginia-based firm led by Michael Arno, a consultant with expertise in ballot access, whose involvement with No Labels was first reported by Mother Jones—got in on the strategic consultant action, pulling in more than $2.1 million for its services compared to Clancy’s six-figure sum the previous year. Arno later stopped working with No Labels and signed a non-disclosure agreement, according to Mother Jones, describing the multi-million dollar effort as “a lot of work,” and it was “time to pass the torch” as he got older.
“In his many years with No Labels, Ryan Clancy has always operated as a paid consultant through his company Clancy Communications,” Martini of No Labels said in a statement. “He did not initially appear on the 2022 990 due to a clerical error which has already been amended and refiled with the IRS.”
Despite the structural obstacles it faces for 2024, No Labels has insisted it is committed to providing voters with an alternative to Trump and Biden.
But the group’s sizable paychecks for executives, combined with its opaque finances, do not lend themselves to an optimistic view about its mission of changing politics as usual.
Even though it is acting increasingly like a political party—fielding a candidate and attempting to qualify for the ballot in states for 2024—No Labels’ nonprofit status means it doesn’t have to disclose its donors or share detailed information on how it spends its funds, contrary to the requirements for traditional campaigns.
The press has highlighted this discrepancy and has put scrutiny on No Labels to pull back the curtain on its books just like any other party. But the group’s leadership has steadfastly refused to do so.
When pressed, Jacobson has insisted the group is “not functioning” as a political party, arguing “there’s nothing nefarious going on here,” denying the idea that “people really want to see the donors.”
Unless No Labels changes its status, its 2022 nonprofit tax form obtained by The Daily Beast will be the clearest glimpse at its finances before the 2024 election in November.
As a nonprofit, No Labels enjoys several benefits, but these are subject to federal limits on lobbying and campaign activities. Campaign finance experts said the group is going right up to the boundaries of a nonprofit compared to a traditional political party when it comes to spending on ballot access, which was around 25 percent of its spending last year.
Although No Labels has demonstrated an ability to throw money around, its actual strategy for competing in the presidential race is as murky as ever.
Despite dubbing itself as an “insurance project” for a Trump-Biden rematch and promising to represent “the commonsense majority,” No Labels faces serious challenges—many of them self-imposed—in qualifying for the ballot and running a presidential operation that would do anything beyond siphon votes from the major parties.
For one, No Labels had to move up its planned convention in Dallas from April to March in order to avoid missing the deadline to qualify for the ballot in several states. For another, it’s not planning on fielding down-ballot candidates, which is a requirement for ballot access in many places.
After a less than stellar soft launch for its third party presidential bid in New Hampshire this summer—which featured Manchin—the centrist Democrat seems to be the likeliest standard-bearer for the presidential effort. Once Manchin announced his plans last week to retire from the Senate instead of seeking re-election, he wasn’t subtle about his potential next steps.
“What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” he said in his retirement announcement.
With Biden and Trump looking poised for a rematch, No Labels is poised to be the best-funded group with the power to play spoiler—most likely at the expense of Biden instead of Trump, Democrats fear, though some polls show Republicans and conservative independents are more likely to consider a fusion ticket.
Life after Tim Scott
When Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) announced on Sunday night he was dropping out of the GOP presidential race live on Fox News to a stunned host—his friend Trey Gowdy—almost no one in his campaign knew it was coming.
Right before that weekend, the candidate received a briefing on where his campaign stood. The previous plan had been to stick it out until the Iowa caucus in January—the contest Scott’s team said they were going all-in on winning—and then decide on a path forward, Scott allies told The Daily Beast.
At some point over those next few days, however, the senator had a change of heart: the best way to proceed, he told only a couple of top officials on the campaign, would be to surprise everyone.
Scott seems to have succeeded. Now, those staffers who had spent the past year dedicating their lives to the possibility of a Tim Scott presidency have to find new work and, for some, find a way to get out of a lease in Iowa. By early November, several staffers were in the process of moving to Iowa in two waves, one before Thanksgiving and one afterwards.
Another factor, first reported by Puck News, is how billionaire Larry Ellison opting not to bankroll Scott may have hastened the decision. Ellison made an eight-figure pledge to support Scott over the summer, but when the campaign went ahead and made a $40 million ad buy, the Ellison cash had yet to materialize.
Andy Sabin, a metals magnate and top donor to the Scott campaign, thought the candidate handled his exit well, framing the decision as one to stop throwing “good money after bad.”
Sabin was coming out of a board meeting when he found out the news, and since then he’s been working with Scott staffers he’s been mentoring to help them get back on their feet.
‘Of course in this world of leaks and all this shit,” Sabin said with a chuckle, “it was an interesting way to do it.”
Still, Sabin—who said he’s moving his support to Scott’s home state frenemy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley—sees the world as Scott’s oyster despite the disappointing campaign.
“It’s understandable and really we know he has plenty of money, we know he is young, he’s got the highest favorability rating [of any other candidate in the field], and life goes on,” Sabin said.
“He called me to thank me and everything and we had a long chat yesterday and I’m going to support him going forward, whatever he decides to do in his next political endeavor,” Sabin added.
Sabin estimated “99 percent” of Scott staffers and allies will shift their support to Haley, despite any bad blood remaining between the two. With heavy staff crossover and long simmering grudges going back to their earlier days in South Carolina politics, the two campaigns were only beginning to take the gloves off late in the primary, as The Daily Beast reported in September.
For now, he’s making sure no Scott staffer is left behind, whether in Iowa or elsewhere.
“I’m going to give them references,” he said, adding that if he could pick any juncture of the campaign to redo, it would be the first debate. “To me, that put him a little behind the eight ball. And then he never got traction.”
A new CNN poll of New Hampshire primary voters shows Trump maintaining a sizable but shrinking lead and Haley surging into second place. But that’s not the poll’s most interesting finding.
This survey asked voters where they get their news, and the results offer a new way to think about how different demographics of Republicans and conservative-leaning independents view the candidates.
Although Haley put up strong numbers with independents and gained 8 points overall since the last survey from September, one of the groups she struggles with the most is a rarely polled subset of Americans: Joe Rogan’s podcast audience.
While Haley performed well among those who watch CNN and local news in New Hampshire at more than 60 percent approval, only 18 percent of Rogan listeners said they had a positive opinion of her, and 78 percent of them said they were “angry or dissatisfied” with her.
Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy, on the other hand, were the clear favorites among the Rogan crowd, earning 56 percent and 33 percent support as their first-choice candidates, respectively.
Modest means? Speaker Mike Johnson has presented his finances as relatable to the everyday American, but as Roger Sollenberger discovered, the new speaker’s money situation is from another planet.
Revenge of the Ohio backbenchers. A quartet of Ohio state lawmakers who are too far-right even for their GOP colleagues are trying to undo last week’s ballot referendum enshrining abortion rights into the state constitution, but their anti-democratic efforts aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, Columbus correspondent Morgan Trau reports for ABC News.
Biden’s young voter problem. The president faces a crucial juncture with voters 18 to 29 on the Israel-Hamas conflict, but it’s not as simple as the polls or online sentiment may indicate, Jake Lahut reports.
Congressional fight club. A bizarre week on Capitol Hill showed why lawmakers “need a vacation” as they regress toward the days of duels and caning people on the House floor, Semafor’s Kadia Goba and Joseph Zeballos-Roig report.
Begun, the Trump staffing wars have. A MAGA think tank is getting a little too excited about staffing up a future Trump administration for the former president’s liking, Zachary Petrizzo reports.
More Mike. Johnson is at the beginning of a very familiar encounter for his predecessors in the Speakership: incurring the wrath of the House Freedom Caucus, Riley Rogerson and Matt Fuller report from Capitol Hill.
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