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New Washington Post Communications Chief Moonlights as Board Member of Far-Left Activist Group

The Washington Post announced in October that it was welcoming a new communications chief. The paper’s official announcement lauded Kathy Baird, a veteran of Nike and the public relations giant Ogilvy, as a “key strategic partner” positioned to “realize our ambitious vision for the publication.” 

It also noted her membership in the “Rosebud Sioux Tribe” and service on the board of IllumiNative, which it described as “a nonprofit working for accurate and authentic portrayal of Native people.”

That’s one way to put it. IllumiNative is a self-described “racial justice organization” funded by a dark money behemoth that encourages elementary school students to fight for Democratic Party initiatives like universal health care. Its purpose is similar to various far-left activist groups, focusing on “breaking through systems of white supremacy” and “grassroots organizing,” according to IllumiNative’s website.

IllumiNative is funded in part by New Venture Fund, which is itself funded by the left-wing dark money behemoth Arabella Advisors. New Venture Fund recorded nearly $1 billion in donations in 2021 and was called “a leading vehicle for [dark money] on the left” by the New York Times. It is unclear how much money the New Venture Fund has given IllumiNative since its 2018 founding, and federal financial disclosure laws do not require the organization to reveal it. Other left-wing charities such as the MacArthur Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation have given IllumiNative millions of dollars over the years.

Baird’s role at IllumiNative raises questions about the place of political activism in the newsrooms—and the extent to which it undercuts a news product that is supposed to be nonpartisan. It is unclear whether Baird will recuse herself from issues surrounding the coverage of Democratic dark-money groups, including Arabella.

The Washington Post declined to comment on Baird’s affiliations. Asked whether she would recuse herself from participating in issues related to Arabella, a spokeswoman said Baird “is a member of the executive team, overseeing Communications, Events and Brand Marketing and is not a part of the editorial staff.”

The Post has almost entirely avoided coverage of Arabella Advisors, a curious editorial decision given the group’s central role as a dark money hub for the Democratic Party. The Free Beacon could only find two instances where Arabella Advisors is mentioned by the paper. Both were pieces by fact-checker Glenn Kessler targeting Republicans. In one of them, Kessler describes the dark money group as a “back-office processor.”

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