Project 2025 April 3rd Update



Project 2025 is a 920-page plan, spearheaded by the powerful and extreme far-right Heritage Foundation. This blueprint for autocracy is supported by more than 100 organizations. Their stated goal is to create an “ideal” America that would see women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, people of color, and others deprived of their hard-won constitutional rights and the erosion of environmental and education protections. It also advocates for a frightening centralization of power in the executive branch. Rooted in hate and Christian Nationalism, the plan promises to “rescue the country.” Read GPAHE’s full analysis of Project 2025 and the groups behind it.

GPAHE tracks the activities of those behind Project 2025, and their plans for an authoritarian and Christian Nationalist America, no matter who is president, and the groups in this extremist movement are relentlessly implementing initiatives at local, state, and federal levels. 

This week we look at Leonard Leo’s massive funding of Project 2025 advisors, a Christian Nationalist version of social studies called American Birthright, and how Project 2025 member America First Legal is attacking corporate DEI programs. 

New Documents Show Leonard Leo Funnelled More Than $216 Million to Far-Right Groups in 2022, Including Project 2025 Members

Newly filed tax documents show that the power wielded by a little-known conservative moneyman is growing exponentially, as are the donations he funnels to Project 2025 members. 

Leonard Leo, a 58-year-old attorney-cum-political-operative from New Jersey who has never tried a case or held public office, is not a household name. However, his influence is everywhere, permeating Christian Nationalist organizations and the judicial branch, where Leo’s donations have funded multi-million dollar campaigns to stack federal judgeships across the country including the  Supreme Court with his ideological allies. 

The co-chair of the Federalist Society and former White House judicial adviser known as Trump’s “Supreme Court Whisperer,” Leo is a shadowy but uncannily effective conservative activist.

Leo, who eschews the limelight, made a rare appearance as keynote speaker at Benedictine College’s 2023 commencement ceremony. The College’s president Stephen Minnis introduced him enthusiastically, touching on a small portion of Leo’s political achievements.

“It is those justices — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett — who he helped to get into place that were able last year to accomplish what the pro-life movement had been working and praying for nearly 50 years: to finally, unequivocally overturn Roe v. Wade,” Minnis said. 

When the staunchly Catholic Leo took the stage, he warned graduates in no uncertain terms about “modern-day barbarians, secularists and bigots” who are “determined to threaten and delegitimize individuals and institutions who refuse to pledge fealty to the woke idols of our age.”

Leo is also a highly skilled fundraiser. Between 2014 and 2020, ProPublica reports, “groups in his orbit raised more than $600 million.” He chairs the Marble Freedom Trust which controls tech mogul Barre Seid’s massive $1.6 billion donation. The 2021 windfall is one of the single largest donations to a political group ever made. 

Marble’s recently released tax documents show that in fiscal year 2022, Leo oversaw donations to far-right organizations totaling $216 million, up $34.1 million from the previous year. Leo has directed $50.7 million to Heritage and other Project 2025 groups since 2021, NBC News reported.

Leo’s financial network is convoluted; groups are often intertwined and he keeps his circle tight by relying on close allies. Non-profit organizations such as Rule of Law Trust, Wellspring Committee, The Concord Fund, The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, the Freedom and Opportunity Fund and the 85 Fund are just some of the groups Leo controls. 

The Federalist Society’s Judicial Crisis Network and the Concord Fund are headed by Carrie Severino, who is also secretary of the 85 Fund. She is a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas and the wife of Heritage Foundation vice president of domestic policy, Roger Severino. 

Leo’s financial network is drawing media scrutiny. For-profit companies run by Leo, such as political consultants CRC Advisors, feed off his non-profit organizations in a circular payment structure, The New York Times noted in an April 3, 2024 article. “Since 2020, groups with immediate ties to Leo’s network have made payments totaling at least $69.77 million to CRC Advisors,” Accountable.US reports.

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Brian Schwalb began investigating Leo in August 2023 for possible violations of non-profit tax laws. “There are questions as to whether the Leo-affiliated nonprofits have diverted substantial portions of their income and assets, directly or indirectly, to the personal benefit of Leonard Leo,” a complaint filed by the Campaign for Accountability in April 2023 states, also noting Leo’s newfound lavish lifestyle.

Consequently, Leo’s conservative allies have gone after Schwalb, Politico’s Heidi Przylba recently reported. Members of the Republican Attorneys General Association, to which Leo has directed $20 million since 2014, have challenged the probe, claiming the investigation is politically motivated.

This kind of murky fundraising using front organizations is not uncommon. An investigation by watchdog group Accountable.US found that the Koch network’s Stand Together trust gave $4.4 million to Project 2025 members in 2022. 

“Leonard Leo uses Marble Freedom Trust as a right-wing slush fund to bankroll his extreme agenda and line his own pockets. From waging his out-of-touch anti-abortion crusade to his network funding of the radical Project 2025 initiative,” Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone stated in a March 29, 2024 report, “Leo remains laser-focused on remaking American society in line with his right-wing vision.”

Project 2025’s War on Education: American Birthright

Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute is a Project 2025 member and right-wing “think tank” whose annual Western Conservative Summit has become the largest such event in the country outside the Beltway. 

Centennial is affiliated with several organizations backing American Birthright, a set of Christian Nationalist social studies standards being promoted nationwide. Logan M. Davis of the Colorado Times Reporter calls Centennial “the hub of Colorado’s conservative culture wars,” in a March 28, 2024 story detailing Project 2025’s Colorado connections. 

“Though distinct organizations with distinct tax filings and boards of directors, the Centennial Institute, Project 2025, and American Birthright are not distinct efforts: they all exist at different nexuses in the same tangled web of well-funded conservative mega-foundations,” Davis writes.

In Colorado, conservatives have worked particularly hard to become the first state where Birthright has made inroads. Woodland Park Public School District adopted Birthright curriculum standards in 2023 and more than 2,000 students are now being taught a perspective of American history and values decidedly skewed to the right, aligning with Project 2025’s plan to rid public schools of “noxious tenets of ‘critical race theory’ and gender ideology,’” which “poison” our children.

American Birthright is a project of the Civics Alliance (CA), a coalition convened by Project 2025-member National Association of Scholars, which includes Project 2025 organizations such as the Heartland Institute, the Claremont Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Hillsdale College, the American Family Association, Moms for Liberty, the American Principles Project, the Eagle Forum and the Public Interest Legal Foundation. 

Not only do they share goals, but they also share funders. Davis reports that CA is bankrolled by the same donors fueling Project 2025, including Leonard Leo, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Koch brothers, and Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz.

Project 2025’s Mandate for America devotes an entire chapter to educational reform. Their agenda advocates for razing the Department of Education and promoting publicly funded, often religious, private schooling rather than the current “woke” curriculum which injects “racist, anti-American, ahistorical propaganda into America’s classrooms.” 

CA’s American Birthright rephrases those same goals and fears in equally dramatic language, acting as a de facto educational arm of Project 2025 in targeting DEI efforts, critical race theory, and social justice as destructive to American culture.

“The warping of American social studies instruction has created a corps of activists dedicated to the overthrow of America and its freedoms, larger numbers of Americans indifferent to the steady whittling away of American liberty, and many more who are so ignorant of the past they cannot use our heritage of freedom to judge contemporary debates,” the Civics Alliance explains in its introduction to American Birthright’s standards. 

“We judge that a great many pedagogies actively inhibit student learning, including action civics, so-called ‘anti-racism,’ civic engagement, critical race theory, current events learning, inquiry-based learning, media literacy, project-based learning, social-emotional learning, and virtually any pedagogy that claims to promote ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ or ‘social justice.’” 

Those on the front lines of education strongly disagree. The 102-year-old National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), representing 10,000 educators, has denounced American Birthright, describing its proposed standards as politically motivated, and presenting “a single narrative of U.S. and Western history that glorified selected aspects of history while minimizing the experiences, contributions, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, people of color, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, the working class, and countless others,” NCSS said in a statement. 

“If implemented in schools, these suggested standards would have damaging and lasting effects on the civic knowledge of students and their capacity to engage in civic reasoning and deliberation. NCSS does not endorse nor support the use of these standards.”

The American History Association (AHA) has also denounced American Birthright standards in no uncertain terms and testified against legislation that would adopt its guidelines in states like Ohio. AHA’s president Edward Muir has called American Birthright’s set of standards “​​a transparent entreaty for ‘political recruitment’ to the radical right.”

America First Legal Attacks DEI, Disney, and The Muppet Babies 

The Disney Corporation is the latest target in a long list of civil rights complaints regarding alleged discriminatory hiring practices filed by former Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller’s America First Legal, (AFL) a Project 2025 member.

AFL founder and President Miller, who has a long track record of interacting with white nationalists, describes the extremely litigious AFL as the “long-awaited answer to the ACLU.” 

Their battle against Disney comes amid a recent flurry of similar legal filings against “woke” corporations it deems guilty of discrimination against white people and other sins that go against Christian Nationalist values championed by Project 2025.

AFL’s March 27 letter to Disney’s Board of Directors entitled “Notice of Mismanagement, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and Waste” claims that its decision “to enlist Disney’s brand and properties into the culture wars“ harms shareholders and has instigated diversity policies that unlawfully “deprive whites, men, heterosexuals, Jews, and American citizens of European ancestry of employment opportunities because of their race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.”

The Disney complaint is the latest in AFL’s blitz of EEOC civil rights filings. Miller’s organization went after CBS Studios and Paramount Global on February 29, 2024, alleging that plaintiff Brian Beneker, a script coordinator on CBS’s SEAL Team series, was passed over for a writing job because he is a straight white male.

AFL’s legal filing alleges that “heterosexual, white men need ‘extra’ qualifications” to be hired. AFL argues that Beneker should be awarded more than $500,000 in damages and promoted to full-time producer on the series. 

AFL used similar DEI-bashing language in its January 11, 2024 complaint against Nike for depriving “white, male, or heterosexual individuals of employment, training, or promotions because of their race, color, sex, or national origin.”

AFL filed EEOC federal civil rights complaints against American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines in November 2023 for hiring practices that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. 

While alleging discriminatory hiring practices is something AFL does regularly, the recent complaint against Disney additionally rails against a perceived bias beyond the company’s alleged repression of white, straight men.

AFL says Disney’s wokeness extends to the degradation of the baby version of Jim Henson’s Muppets as depicted in Disney’s reboot of The Muppet Babies series. This new, progressive version of the beloved characters breaches Disney’s “duties of care, loyalty, and disclosure” by wasting the company’s assets and damaging Disney’s shareholders. 

The complaint alleges Disney has infused “woke political and social beliefs into the Company’s products and programming” which has caused financial harm and “triggered multiple boycotts. Shareholders have suffered a bloodbath.”

In its federal complaint, AFL cites an episode of The Muppet Babies where Muppet Baby Gonzo “ultimately rejects societal norms and his biology by cross-dressing as the princess named ‘Gonzo-rella.’”

AFL also has grave concerns about the fate of the Star Wars franchise given Disney’s progressive agenda. 

“Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a Pakistani-Canadian director with minimal feature-length directing experience, to direct an upcoming theatrically released Star Wars film. She will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film,” the EEOC complaint warns. “Star Wars fans are worried.”

Also damaging to Disney shareholders, AFL claims, is the National Geographic-produced, TV-14-rated Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, which offers “no warning about the radicalizing nature of the documentary’s gender viewpoints or false portrayals of untested, dangerous, and unapproved ‘gender-affirming’ drugs,” AFL tells the government.

AFL’s professed concern for Disney shareholders’ bottom line is incidental to their battle against values that reflect diversity, equity and inclusion. 

This cultural battle runs through the entirety of Project 2025’s Mandate for Leadership, which unabashedly advocates for “deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity, diversity, equity, and inclusion, gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights” from American culture.

2000 1333 Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
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