Leftist War Chest on the Verge of Collapse?
By Matthew Vadum
A serious internal schism has developed that threatens to destroy the Democracy Alliance, George Soros’s financial clearinghouse that funds groups and projects aimed at turning America into a European-style socialist state.
The preeminent funder of the Left in the United States, Soros favors American decline and has said that European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now.” The radical, anti-American philanthropist praises Red China effusively, saying the totalitarian nation has “a better-functioning government than the United States.”
The conflict within Soros’s group has created two factions.
On one side are Democracy Alliance members who believe in the original mission of the donors’ collaborative. Created after Democrats failed to reclaim power in the 2004 election, the group started out funding left-wing political infrastructure – think tanks, activist groups, leadership schools, and media outlets— to help the Left gain and keep power. The idea was to focus on long-term organizational issues as opposed to helping Democrats get elected every election cycle.
Soros doppelganger Peter B. Lewis, who helped to found the group with Soros, believes the Democracy Alliance has become far too partisan. In a crushing blow to the club-for-billionaire-radicals, the Progressive Insurance magnate who spent $25 million in 2004 in a failed attempt to defeat President George W. Bush, reportedly resigned from the Democracy Alliance in disgust weeks ago.
“Peter’s focus since 2004 has been on scaling up the progressive infrastructure, as opposed to election or political candidates,” a source told the Politico newspaper last month.
Although Lewis donated $200,000 last summer to a super PAC approved by the Democracy Alliance, a source close to him told the Politico that he probably won’t give any more cash to super PACs and is not happy with the Democracy Alliance’s newfound focus on them.
Trial lawyer Guy Saperstein said he quit the Democracy Alliance because he believed the group’s mission had shifted. “All of us were political donors going in, and the DA was sold to us as an effort to build infrastructure that was different from campaign politics. But that promise has been something that they’ve moved away from,” he said. Saperstein said he donated more than $1 million through the Democracy Alliance.
Saperstein, who regards Obama as “a failure from a progressive point of view,” said the group was now “more devoted to short term election tactics than it ever had been.”
On the other side of the divide are those Democracy Alliance members who want the group to more closely align itself with groups close to the Obama White House such as Media Matters for America and the Center for American Progress in order to help Democrats in the approaching election.
Right now this faction appears to have the upper hand. The Democracy Alliance has officially dumped several of the more ideologically oriented groups as recommended grantees. Among the dropped groups are Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), documentary filmmaker Brave New Foundation, and the Campaign for America’s Future which has repeatedly attacked Democrats for taking insufficiently left-wing stances.
Trust fund baby Rob McKay, the Taco Bell heir who chairs the Democracy Alliance’s board, is going all out to make sure President Obama wins a second term. McKay, who also sits on the board of the pro-Obama Priorities USA Action super PAC, helped organize a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser for Obama earlier this year.
McKay complains that election-focused groups have taken in just a small fraction of the “hundreds of million dollars” that the group has funneled to Democracy Alliance-approved grant recipients since it was formed in 2005.
The Democracy Alliance funds many key institutions on the Left. One of them is Catalist, formerly known as Data Warehouse. The company was created by Clinton aide Harold Ickes and Democratic operative Laura Quinn to help leftist groups get out the Democratic vote. It describes its mission as providing “progressive organizations with the data and services needed to better identify, understand, and communicate with the people they need to persuade and mobilize.” The chairman of Catalist is Democracy Alliance member Albert J. Dwoskin, a Virginia-based real estate developer.
The Democracy Alliance has also funded People for the American Way, EMILY’s List, ACORN, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Progressive States Network, Center for Community Change, Sierra Club, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, and the Secretary of State Project which has helped elect left-wingers as chief electoral officials in at least nine states.
SEIU and the AFL-CIO are institutional members of the Democracy Alliance. As I note in my book Subversion Inc., among the group’s individual members are subprime mortgage hucksters Herb and Marion Sandler, Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., Goldman Sachs banker Lawrence Linden, Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo.), former Congressman Bob Clement (D-Tenn.), and Livingston Kosberg, CEO of U.S. Physical Therapy Inc.