Arizona State Rep Received Left-Wing Dark Money ‘Fellowship’

January 29, 2024

By Elizabeth Troutman |

Former Arizona State Sen. Kirsten Engel received campaign funding from a liberal dark money group “fellowship,” the Washington Examiner uncovered. 

Engel lists the American Mainstream Policy Leadership Institute, or AMPLI,  fellowship on her University of Arizona profile page, but she did not respond to questions about why she didn’t disclose any payments from the group.

“What is Kirsten Engel hiding? Engel’s intimate involvement with these secretive left-wing forces orchestrating this unprecedented corrupt scheme is disturbing and Arizonans deserve answers immediately,” National Republican Congressional Committee Spokesperson Ben Petersen said in a statement. 

Engel unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Arizona in 2022 against Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani. She is running to unseat Ciscomani in 2024 in a district Cook Political Report calls a “Republican toss up.” 

Engel’s financial disclosure report filed with the House clerk in August of last year did not disclose any income from the fellowship. 

New Politics Leadership Academy, a charity that trains prospective candidates and has an affiliated advocacy group called New Politics 527 previously sponsored the AMPLI fellowship. New Politics also ran a similar one in 2019 which cut large checks to failed candidates, drawing legal scrutiny from campaign experts. 

New Politics Leadership Academy has since moved on from the initiative, which was absorbed by Our American Future Foundation, or OAFF, a newly-formed charity incorporated in Washington, D.C., by an associate of Democratic superlawyer Marc Elias, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

New Politics Leadership Academy’s partnership with AMPLI only lasted for one month,  New Politics spokesman Gabe Ramos told the Washington Examiner. Ramos indicated tension between the two groups.

“The fellowship was never our thing,” Ramos said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, describing how New Politics Leadership Academy ran a one-time 2019 fellowship, though, in October 2022, began sponsoring a project called the American Mainstream Policy Leadership Institute that offers a revamped version. 

Our American Future Foundation’s involvement with the fellowship could have legal implications due to the legal scrutiny New Politics Leadership Academy faced in recent years over pushing thousands of dollars to candidates, the Examiner reported. 

Tax experts have questioned whether New Politics Leadership Academy may have violated its charity status by compensating congressional hopefuls. The Federal Election Commission received at least one formal complaint against a candidate in 2020 regarding the candidate being “paid to run for Congress by Democratic groups,” including New Politics Leadership Academy. 

In 2022, the FEC voted to dismiss the complaint. 

New Politics has claimed it’s bipartisan, though the vast majority of the candidates it has supported have been Democrats, the Washington Examiner reported.

Little information is available online about AMPLI or OAFF. 

Ramos, the New Politics spokesman, agreed it’s odd there is such little information on the internet about both AMPLI and OAFF.

“By design I suspect,” he told the Washington Examiner.

Elizabeth Troutman is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send her news tips using this link.

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