- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Trump judicial adviser Leonard Leo is forming a new conservative advocacy group and taking a new role at the Federalist Society, The Washington Times has learned.

Mr. Leo’s new role as chairman of CRC Advisors puts him atop a new full-service public affairs firm. He is transitioning away from the daily leadership of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservatives and libertarians that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the Constitution.

Mr. Leo will stay on at the society as the co-chairman of its board of directors.

“I’m very comfortable with where the institution is at this point; I can’t think of a better time to make this kind of a transition,” Mr. Leo told The Times. “The senior management of the society is as good as it’s ever been, its membership is as large as its ever been, [and] it’s an organization now that boasts a budget of $22 million a year, so while one can always use more resources, it has the resources it needs to get its job done well.”

Mr. Leo will maintain his office at the Federalist Society and said in an interview he will be an “active, engaged board chairman.” But the day-to-day control of the Federalist Society’s operations will belong to Eugene Meyer, the Federalist Society president with more than 30 years experience in the group’s leadership, and the organizations’ vice presidents.

At CRC Advisors, Mr. Leo is partnering with Greg Mueller, former head of CRC Strategies, a government affairs and public relations firm. The Alexandria, Virginia-based CRC began with three employees in 1989 and now includes 45 employees that have done publicity work for New York Times bestselling authors and presidential candidates.

They plan to build public policy projects, coalitions, and groups that connect nonprofits, philanthropists, and prominent lawyers in pursuit of common goals that will advance the conservative movement’s agenda. They have recently worked together in support of the Senate confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch, who were nominated by President Trump in 2018 and 2017 respectively.

Mr. Leo and Mr. Mueller, who have known each other since the 2004 election cycle, began discussing the creation of a new advocacy entity last year. One of their first projects at CRC Advisors will be a 2020 election-focused issue-advocacy campaign about the importance of the federal judiciary that will be backed by an investment of at least $10 million.

The model for CRC Advisors is Arabella Advisors, a left-leaning public affairs operation founded by Eric Kessler, a former official in President Clinton’s administration, and funded by liberal financier George Soros’ network of groups. Having studied Arabella Advisors’ organization and success, Mr. Leo and Mr. Mueller think there is an opportunity for a similar venture on the right.

As the Federalist Society and Mr. Leo are undergoing a period of transition, its main rival on the left, the American Constitution Society, is doing likewise. Caroline Frederickson stepped away from ACS’ president position last fall and was succeeded by interim president Zinelle October. ACS’ board of directors has undertaken a nationwide search for a new president and set a target date of this month for when a new leader would be installed.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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