Irish-based firm named ‘dark money’ in US fundraising controversy

An Ireland-based company has unknowingly found itself at the center of a major political controversy in the US following a takeover made last year.

Ublin-headquartered Eaton Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange-listed energy management company with annual sales of around €20 billion, bought Chicago-based electronics manufacturer Tripp Lite for $1.65 billion in March 2021.

But that money didn’t go to Tripp Lite’s founder and sole shareholder, Barre Seid.

That’s because, prior to the deal closing, Mr. Seid donated 100 percent of the company’s stock to the Marble Freedom Trust, a low profile but very influential conservative foundation, according to tax records uncovered by The New York Times.

According to a report in the newspaper, the series of transactions appear to have avoided tax liabilities.

Now, Marble Freedom has an even bigger war chest to spend on conservative causes, like anti-abortion activism, funding right-wing think tanks and promoting the careers of influential Republican judges.

According to the report, the $1.65 billion exceeds the combined spending of the 15 most active Democratic nonprofit political organizations during the 2020 US presidential year.

It’s also nearly double the $900 million that Republican-linked groups spent this year, meaning the party that nominated Donald Trump now has a significant “dark money” advantage, not reported funds used to influence the American political system.

Marble Freedom is run by Republican agent Leonard Leo, who has used money and influence through a network of political nonprofits like the Federalist Society to, among other things, confirm conservative judges, make abortion less accessible and restrict elections.

Eaton was founded in New Jersey in 1911 but became an Irish company in 2012 when it bought Cooper Industries in a so-called tax inversion.

Cooper, an industrial company with roots dating back to 1833, was incorporated in Ireland at the time of the transaction.

Eaton’s 2021 financial statements show the company employs 86 people in Ireland out of a global workforce of 86,000.

Eaton did not respond to a request for comment. Irish-based firm named ‘dark money’ in US fundraising controversy

Fry Electronics Team

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