Center for Political Awareness

What Ginni Thomas and Leonard Leo Wrought: How a Justice’s Wife and a Key Activist Started a Movement

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, a trove of so-called “dark money” was about to be unleashed. Two activists prepared to seize the moment. (Click image for article.)

Leonard Leo’s role as the central figure in the conservative legal movement has long been known, culminating in his acquisition last year of what many believe to be the largest political donation in history. | POLITICO illustration/Photos by AP Photo, Getty Images

 

The Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case transformed the world of politics. It loosened restrictions on campaign spending and unleashed a flow of anonymous donor money to nonprofit groups run by political activists.

In the months before the ruling dropped in January of that year, a group of conservative activists came together to create just such an organization. Its mission would be to, at the time, block then-President Barack Obama’s pet initiatives.

The activists included Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo and his ideological soulmate, a hard-edged activist named Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

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