A conservative nonprofit group with several ties to Utah received a massive $1.6 billion gift from an electronics mogul last year. The donation, thought to be the largest single gift ever to a political organization, came from electronics mogul Barre Seid. The contribution was first reported by The New York Times on Monday.
The nonprofit, Marble Freedom Trust, is controlled by Leonard Leo, a longtime conservative activist who was one of the first paid employees of the Federalist Society. He’s now the co-chairman of the group’s board of directors.
Tax documents show Marble Freedom Trust is headquartered at an address in North Salt Lake owned by Tyler Green, who is listed as the administrative trustee of the nonprofit. An administrative trustee is typically responsible for the day-to-day operations of an organization.
Green, a native Utahn who earned his law degree from the University of Utah, is also part of the Federalist Society. He was named Utah’s solicitor general by Attorney General Sean Reyes in 2015. He served in the position until 2020, when he joined Washington, D.C., law firm Consovoy McCarthy. That firm most notably represented former President Donald Trump in his efforts to shield his financial records from congressional investigators and New York prosecutors.
Green has been involved in several high-profile and controversial cases for Utah. In 2015 he defended then-Gov. Gary Herbert’s decision to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The organization eventually triumphed in federal court. Green also headed up the state’s defense of SB54, which allows candidates to secure a spot on the primary ballot by gathering signatures. The legal tussle ended in 2019 when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Even after he officially exited the Attorney General’s office, Green has been assisting the state in a handful of legal issues. He was part of the team that sued to block a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. Most recently, Green defended Utah’s abortion trigger law, which is currently on hold. Utah’s financial transparency website states that the state has paid Green’s law firm more than $370,000 since 2020.
For his new firm, Green represented a group of cockfighting enthusiasts in Puerto Rico who filed suit, claiming Congress did not have the jurisdiction to ban the blood sport on the island territory.
Before Marble Freedom Trust was formed, Leo and Green shared a connection through Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Leo helped shepherd Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination through the Senate in 1991. Green was a clerk for Thomas in 2009.
Attempts to contact Green were unsuccessful.
The New York Times reported the donation from Mr. Seid to Marble Freedom Trust was structured to allow him and the nonprofit to avoid paying taxes on the money. Instead of a straightforward gift, Mr. Seid transferred 100 percent of the shares in his company to Mr. Leo’s organization before it was sold to an Irish conglomerate for $1.65 billion.
The tax documents show Leo was the only paid employee of Marble Freedom Trust, receiving compensation of $350,000. Green received no money from the nonprofit for his role.
The filing shows one other connection to the Beehive State. Salt Lake City law firm Kirton McConkie was paid just over $140,000 for legal services. Kirton McConkie did not respond to a request for comment.