AMERICA COMING TOGETHER (ACT) BACKGROUNDER

 

March 2005

 

General Information

 

ACT Is “Mother Of All 527s.” (Emily Pierce, “527s Cast Shadow Over Convention,” Roll Call, 7/27/04)

 

“ACT Was Founded In August 2003 When [George] Soros Announced He Was Giving $10 Million To The Organization To Ensure That Mr. Bush Was Not Re-Elected.” (Jerry Seper, “Soros-Supported Voter-Registration Drive Probed,” The Washington Times, 10/20/04)

 

In 2004, ACT Was Led By Emily’s List President Ellen Malcolm, Former AFL-CIO Organizer Steve Rosenthal And Former Clinton Deputy Chief Of Staff Harold Ickes. “This was the year of the old-fashioned ground-war political campaign, the kind fought door to door. And the most important battalion on the Democratic side was America Coming Together (ACT). A massive get-out-the-vote project focused on 17 battleground states, ACT was the co-creation of Steve Rosenthal, a former head of the AFL-CIO political operation, who founded it last year with, among others, Harold Ickes, Bill Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, and Ellen Malcolm, head of the pro-choice advocacy group Emily’s List. At $120 million, the money they raised was six times greater than the Democratic Party has traditionally taken in for turnout efforts.” (Richard Lacayo and Joel Stein, “The Outside Players,” Time, 11/15/04)

 

Ickes Was Recently Named ACT’s President, Having Served As Group’s Chief Of Staff In 2004. (ACT Email, “My Friend, Harold Ickes,” 3/1/05; John F. Harris and Brian Faler, “Talking Iraq: Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid,” The Washington Post, 6/20/04)

 

ü      Ickes, A Member Of DNC’s Executive Committee, Was A Candidate To Succeed Terry McAuliffe As DNC Chairman. (Jim Drinkard, “‘Outside’ Political Groups Full Of Party Insiders,” USA Today, 6/28/04; Liz Marlantes, “Race For Democratic Chair: A Proxy Fight Over Party Identity,” Christian Science Monitor, 12/13/04)

 

ACT Concentrated Its Activities In 17 States: Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio And West Virginia. (Thomas B. Edsall, “Liberals Form Fund To Defeat President,” The Washington Post, 8/8/03)

 

ACT Plans To “Lead The Fight Against George Bush’s Radical Right-Wing Agenda By Continuing Our Work In 7-9 Battleground States With Key Elections In 2005, 2006 And 2008.”In 2005, we will continue to lead the fight against George Bush’s radical right-wing agenda by continuing our work in 7-9 battleground states with key elections in 2005, 2006 and 2008. … For years, Democrats have neglected to support local organizing efforts in off-years. This fleeting commitment to organizing on the ground hobbles progressive’s ability to frame debate and limits the personal and targeted voter contacts that have been proven – by both sides – to lead to victory on Election Day. In 2005, ACT is undertaking a long-term strategy shaped by the lessons and realities of 2004. We are targeting key electoral precincts, working with candidates at all levels, and tapping the grassroots with a mix of old-school organizing tactics and leading-edge technologies. … In every election cycle, dozens of progressive interest groups work on behalf of Democrats up and down the ticket. Focused on the environment, abortion rights, gay rights and other issues, these passionate but disparate efforts are never able to match the highly organized state parties, church groups, and gun clubs that are at work year-round on behalf of Republican candidates. … Going forward, ACT will deepen its partnerships with progressive allies, elected officials and community organizers to support a unified grassroots response to the GOP and its allies.”  (ACT Website, http://acthere.com/plan, Accessed 3/11/05)

 

“ACT’s Self-Stated Goal Is ‘The Defeat Of George W. Bush And His Republican Allies.’” (John Nichols, “The Beat-Bush Brigades,” The Nation, 4/26/04)

 

ACT’s Expectations For Its Canvassers: “Knocking On Doors And Speaking The Truth, ACT Canvassers Are Laying The Groundwork To Defeat George W. Bush And Elect Democrats In Federal, State, And Local Elections In 2004.” (America Coming Together Website, www.act4victory.com, Accessed 6/22/04)

 

ACT’s Funding

 

ACT Raised And Spent $135 Million On “Largest Get-Out-The-Vote Program” In American History. (Thomas B. Edsall and James V. Grimaldi, “On Nov. 2, GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion, Analysis Shows,” The Washington Post, 12/30/04)

 

Billionaire Financier George Soros Gave $14.5 Million To ACT.Since then, the Hungarian-born Mr. Soros said, he has become so worried that Mr. Bush will win the election that he increased his giving, to $18.2 million, and has scrapped a trip in October to Russia to work against the president’s re-election. … Mr. Soros, whose $7.2 billion fortune makes him the 24th richest person in the United States, has become the biggest donor to the 527 advocacy groups, a category named for the section of the tax code that covers them. He pledged $10 million to America Coming Together for a registration and get-out-the-vote drive, but gave a total of $14.5 million. His other contributions to Democratic 527’s are $2.5 million to MoveOn.org Voter Fund; $325,000 to Young Voter Alliance; $325,000 to 21st Century Democrats; $300,000 to the Real Economy Group; and $250,000 to Democracy for America.” (Katharine Q. Seelye, “Anti-Bush Billionaire Plans To Give More,” The New York Times, 9/29/04)

 

ü      Soros Compared Bush Administration To Nazis. “Soros believes that a ‘supremacist ideology’ guides this White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary. ‘When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans.’ It conjures up memories, he said, of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (‘The enemy is listening’). ‘My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me,’ he said in a soft Hungarian accent.” (Laura Blumenfeld, “Soros’s Deep Pockets Vs. Bush,” The Washington Post, 11/11/03)

 

ü      For Soros, Defeating Bush Was “The Central Focus” Of His Life And “A Matter Of Life And Death.” (Laura Blumenfeld, “Soros’s Deep Pockets Vs. Bush,” The Washington Post, 11/11/03)

 

Insurance Billionaire Peter Lewis Pledged To Give $10 Million To ACT. “Among ACT’s largest contributors is Peter B. Lewis, the Cleveland-based insurance billionaire and philanthropist. He gave the group nearly $3 million in 2003, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Lewis has pledged to give ACT $10 million.” (Mark Naymik, “ACT Seeks Voters, Gets Controversy,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 3/28/04)

 

ü      Lewis And Billionaire Philanthropists George Soros And John Sperling Have “Bankrolled The Pro-Pot Movement.” (Joel Stein, “The New Politics Of Pot; Can It Go Legit?” Time, 11/4/02)    

 

ü      Lewis “Has Been Referred To By Colleagues As A ‘Functional Pothead’” (Joel Stein, “The New Politics Of Pot; Can It Go Legit?” Time, 11/4/02)   

 

Former President Bill Clinton Reportedly Made Appearance At ACT Pitch Session At George Soros’ Home In New York. “Political activists say, though, that the aura of Clinton is hovering over ACT and the Media Fund. At a similar pitch session in New York, held at the home of billionaire financier George Soros, who has pledged $10 million to the effort, Clinton himself made an appearance, a source said.” (Gabriel Snyder, “Targeting The New Key Demos,” Daily Variety, 12/4/03)

 

ACT Had Active Presence At Democratic Convention In Boston, Meeting Donors In Private Meetings And Promoting Organization. “The mother of all 527s – America Coming Together, headed by Democratic Party heavyweights Ellen Malcolm, Harold Ickes and Steve Rosenthal – has declared its presence openly, even brazenly. On Saturday night, as thousands of reporters and media executives in taxis and buses streamed toward the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for the media welcoming party, dozens of volunteers wearing ACT T-shirts held up 6-foot-tall cardboard letters that spelled out such motivational messages as ‘VICTORY’ and ‘ACT.’ But strategists say the important work is being done behind the scenes. ‘We’re meeting with our donors in small, private conversations,’ said Sarah Leonard, spokeswoman for ACT. Leonard noted that ACT is ‘taking advantage of the proximity’ of both established and potentially new donors.” (Emily Pierce, “527s Cast Shadow Over Convention,” Roll Call, 7/27/04)

 

ACT Controversies

 

ACT Hired Felons For Door-To-Door Canvassing

 

ACT Hired Dozens Of Felons As Voter Canvassers In Missouri, Ohio And Florida, Including People Convicted Of “Crimes Such As Burglary, Forgery, Drug Dealing, Assault And Sex Offenses.” “A Democratic group crucial to John Kerry’s presidential campaign has paid felons – some convicted of sex offenses, assault and burglary – to conduct door-to-door voter registration drives in at least three election swing states. America Coming Together, contending that convicted criminals deserve a second chance in society, employs felons as voter canvassers in major metropolitan areas in Missouri, Florida, Ohio and perhaps in other states among the 17 it is targeting in its drive. Some lived in halfway houses, and at least four returned to prison. ... A review of federal campaign finance and state criminal records by The Associated Press revealed that the names and hometowns of dozens of ACT employees in Missouri, Florida and Ohio matched those of people convicted of crimes such as burglary, forgery, drug dealing, assault and sex offenses. ... ACT canvassers ask residents which issues are important to them and, if they are not registered, sign them up as voters. They gather telephone numbers and other personal information, such as driver’s license numbers or partial Social Security numbers, depending on what a state requires for voter registration. ... [ACT Spokesman Mo] Elleithee confirmed that felons have been hired in Missouri, Florida and Ohio and said it is possible they have been hired in the other 14 states in which it’s conducting its drive: Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.” (David A. Lieb, “Political Group Paid Felons For Door-To-Door Voter Registration Drive,” The Associated Press, 6/23/04)

 

Seven ACT Employees Lived At Missouri Halfway Houses And At Least Four Returned To Prison. “Some of the felons lived in halfway houses, and at least four returned to prison. ... Five ACT employees lived at the Kansas City Community Release Center and two others at the St. Louis Community Release Center earlier this year. ... Four of ACT’s former employees living at a Missouri halfway house have since been returned to prison - two for drug violations, one for endangering the welfare of a child and another for walking away from the facility.” (David A. Lieb, “Political Group Paid Felons For Door-To-Door Drive,” The Associated Press, 6/23/04)

 

Missouri Department Of Corrections “Banished ACT From Its Pool Of Potential Employers For Parolees,” Saying They Did Not Was Offenders Handing Sensitive Personal Information. “Citing security concerns for the public and for the felons, the Missouri Department of Corrections in April banished ACT from its pool of potential employers for parolees in its halfway houses in Kansas City and St. Louis, department spokesman John Fougere said. Five ACT employees lived at the Kansas City Community Release Center and two others at the St. Louis Community Release Center earlier this year. ‘From a public safety standpoint, we didn’t want offenders to be in a situation where they would be handling that information,’ Fougere said.” (David A. Lieb, “Political Group Paid Felons For Door-To-Door Drive,” The Associated Press, 6/23/04)

 

Names Of Two ACT Employees Matched Those Of People Convicted Of Murder And Rape, Though ACT Refused Associated Press Request To Verify Criminal Backgrounds Of Those Individuals. “The names of two ACT employees in Ohio matched the names of people convicted of murder and rape, but the AP was unable verify that they lived at the addresses listed by ACT in filings with the federal Election Commission. ACT has declined to verify the criminal backgrounds of any specific employees.” (David A. Lieb, “Political Group To Run Background Checks On Employees,” The Associated Press, 6/24/04)

 

ACT’s Faulty Voter Registrations

 

ACT Submitted Faulty Registrations In St. Louis.  “Sleuths at the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners are trashing hundreds of faulty voter registrations, most of them collected by voter drive groups like Pro-Vote and America Coming Together. …  KMOV presented [Commissioner David] Welch with a list of names of voters who apparently registered twice, using variations of their names - registrations that had not yet been flagged.”  (KMOV Website, http://www.kmov.com/topstories/stories/100604ccktKMOVVote.7e36f2b.html, Accessed 10/7/04)

 

Lake County Officials Investigating ACT “For Hundreds Of Suspicious Registration Forms And Absentee Ballot Requests.” “Elections officials in Lake County, just east of Cleveland, last month began investigating the group and an anti-Bush group called Americans Coming Together, or ACT Ohio, for hundreds of suspicious registration forms and absentee ballot requests.” (Joe Mahr, “Voter Fraud Case Traced To Volunteer,” Toledo Blade, 10/19/04)

 

ACT Submitted Fraudulent Registration For Ohio Nursing Home Resident. “At least one Lake County voter would have made quite a comeback to cast a ballot Nov. 2. He has been dead for more than two decades, elections officials said. In a seemingly lesser miracle of wayward democracy, an elderly nursing home resident who only scrawls a shaky ‘X’ when signing official documents suddenly regained a firm, crisp cursive signature when she registered. Both the dead man and the elderly woman were signed up by voter registration advocacy groups, Lake County elections officials said. ‘Those were not their signatures,’ Lake elections board Director Jan Clair said Wednesday. ‘Now, we’re talking about election fraud here, and we’re going to take some of these cases to the prosecutor.’ … [Clair] said that the registration of the deceased man was filed by the National Voter Fund, the registration arm of the NAACP, and the woman in the nursing home was registered by the group Americans Coming Together, known in this state as ACT Ohio.” (Michael Scott, “Dead Man On Voter Rolls Sparks Inquiry,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 9/23/04)

 

ü      “[Clair] Said ACT Ohio Had Been To Two Lake County Nursing Homes And A Number Of Registrations Were Now In Question.” (Michael Scott, “Dead Man On Voter Rolls Sparks Inquiry,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 9/23/04)

 

ü      ACT Spokesman Dismissed Voter Registration Fraud Concern. “Jess Goode, state communications director for ACT Ohio, said the Lake County allegations would turn out to be nothing. ‘We honestly believe that there is nothing to this and that it was based on confusion and miscommunication,’ Goode said. ‘We have tough, professional standards and . . . a well-trained staff. Our goal is to make sure more Ohioans are able to vote legitimately.’” (Michael Scott, “Dead Man On Voter Rolls Sparks Inquiry,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 9/23/04)

 

Trumbull County, OH, Investigating Possible ACT Voter Fraud. “The Trumbull County Board of Elections asked the county prosecutor Tuesday to investigate possible fraud involving a voter registration card. The card was in by a group called America Coming Together, an interest group working to defeat president Bush. Elections board Director Norma J. Williams said card in question was for Justin Murphy of Hyde Avenue in Niles. Williams said his mother said her son did not fill out a voter registration card, the address, birth date and telephone number on the card were wrong and the signature was not his.” (Steven Oravecz, “Elections Board Questions Cards,” Tribune Chronicle, 5/6/04)

 

ACT Flier Condemned By GOP And Democrats

 

ACT Flier Showed Firefighter Hosing A Black Man. “Missouri’s Republican Party and a former Democratic national chairman have called for a Democratic-aligned group to mothball a get-out-the-vote flier showing a 1960s snapshot of a firefighter hosing a black man and headlined: ‘This is what they used to do to keep us from voting.’ The America Coming Together handout, circulated in the past couple of weeks in St. Louis and Kansas City, accuses Republicans of conspiring to intimidate blacks to suppress their votes, engaging in such things as putting ‘phony cops at polling places - but only in African-American neighborhoods.’  ‘They make African-American voters stand in line for hours, then turn them away from the polls, like they did in St. Louis’ in 2000, the flier reads. ‘Now (Attorney General) John Ashcroft is trying to prevent African-Americans from registering to vote at all.’ ‘Don’t let them do it again,’ the flier insists.” (Jim Suhr, “Republicans Question Group’s Get-Out-The-Vote Fliers,” The Associated Press, 10/17/04)

 

ü      “Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell Of Pennsylvania On Sunday Agreed, Calling The Fliers ‘Clearly Over The Top And Part Of What’s Really Been A Horrible Election Process On Both Sides.’”  (Jim Suhr, “Republicans Question Group’s Get-Out-The-Vote Fliers,” The Associated Press, 10/17/04)

 

ACT Flier “Bore The Face Of A Young African-American Man In Fatigues And Read: ‘They Want Us To Fight Their War In Iraq. But They Don’t Want Us To Vote.’” (Alissa Quart, Op-Ed, “They’re Not Buying It,” The New York Times, 11/6/04)

 

Misleading Phone Messages

 

Ohio Republicans Sued Democrats And ACT For Targeting Republicans With Taped Phone Messages Directing Them To Improper Polling Locations Or Providing Misleading Information. “The Ohio Republican Party sued in Marion County just before its county courthouse doors closed at 4:30 p.m., asking for a restraining order against state and county Democrats and the political group America Coming Together. The suit claimed they were peppering the Republican strongholds of Marion and Greene counties with misleading taped phone messages. Republican attorney Mark Weaver said several dozen GOP voters complained to party headquarters that the messages directed them to an improper polling place or told them, incorrectly, that they needed to bring identification or a utility bill to the polls.” (Bill Sloat, “Republicans, Democrats File Last-Minute Election Appeals In State,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 11/2/04)

 

ACT’s Controversial Spokesman Jeff Link

 

The Anti-Bush Group America Coming Together Is Moving Into The Street With Its 70 Canvassers In What Spokesman Jeff Link Indelicately Describes As ‘Carpet Bombing.’” (Mike Glover, “On The Phone, In The Mail, At The Door: An Intense Effort To Get Voters To Get Out And Vote,” The Associated Press, 10/18/04)

 

During 2002 Senate Race, Harkin Campaign Manager Jeff Link Was Forced To Resign For Unethical Taping Incident.  “Link resigned Friday after revelations that a campaign research worker recruited a Des Moines businessman to record the Sept. 3 meeting between Ganske and some of his supporters, and then gave the tape to a reporter.  Des Moines businessman Brian Conley is believed to have attended the meeting at the Hotel Savery, along with Ganske, his campaign’s finance director and about two dozen previous Ganske financial backers. White House political director Ken Mehlman participated by telephone in the meeting, at which Ganske discussed his media strategy for the fall campaign.”  (Thomas Beaumont, “New Manager Vows Strong Ethics In Race,” Des Moines Register, 10/2/02)

 

ü      New Campaign Manager Characterized Incident As “Ethical Breach” And “Wrong, Absolutely Wrong;” Preliminary Investigation Launched.  “John Frew, who ran the three-term Democrat’s first U.S. Senate campaign in 1984, vowed to avoid what he referred to as an ethical breach that led to the resignations of former manager Jeff Link and a junior campaign worker last week.  ‘What occurred was wrong, absolutely wrong,’ said Frew, who took leave from his Denver law practice to run Harkin’s campaign for the next five weeks. ‘It will not be repeated. I won’t tolerate it.’  County Attorney John Sarcone said he hopes to decide by the end of the week whether to launch a full investigation into the taping incident.”  (Thomas Beaumont, “New Manager Vows Strong Ethics In Race,” Des Moines Register, 10/2/02)

 

o         October 2002:  “That’s Why Jeff’s [Link] Gone.”  “‘It wasn’t the same set of rules I would operate under. It’s not Tom Harkin’s, either,’ he [New Campaign Manager John Frew] said. ‘Those are not his standards, and I think that’s why Jeff’s gone.’”  (Thomas Beaumont, “New Manager Vows Strong Ethics In Race,” Des Moines Register, 10/2/02)

 

ACT’s GOTV Activities Around The Country

 

In 2004, ACT Had 93 Field Offices And An Army Of Over 100,000 Staff And Volunteers Who Reached Over 4.2 Million Targeted Voters on Election Day. “In 2004, 93 ACT field offices, staff and tools were open to over 40 partner organizations. This unprecedented commitment to building core political infrastructure culminated in an army of over 100,000 staff and volunteers working on Election Day with common plans and voter targets. ACT volunteers reached over 4.2 million targeted voters on Election Day 2004.” (ACT Website, http://acthere.com/plan, Accessed 3/10/05)

 

ACT Employed Over 5,000 Canvassers And Trained More Than 80,000 Volunteers. (ACT Website, http://acthere.com/plan, Accessed 3/10/05) 

 

ACT Claims To Have “Best Voter File Available With More Than 65 Million Targeted Democratic Voters In 17 States.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

 

In Last Three Weeks Of Election, ACT Made “16 Million Phone Calls, Sent 23 Million Pieces Of Mail And Delivered 11 Million Fliers Door To Door.” (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)

 

ACT Registered About 500,000 Potential Voters In 2004. (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)

 

ACT Registered At Least 102,000 Voters In Missouri, 79,000 In Ohio, 126,000 In Pennsylvania. “Back at ACT’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., spokesman Jim Jordan reels off the statistics. The group has already registered 102,000 voters in Missouri, 79,000 in Ohio, 126,000 in Pennsylvania and 40,000 in Florida. On Election Day, ‘we will have tens of thousands of people on the streets,’ he says.” (Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff and Holly Bailey, “The Secret Money War,” Newsweek, 9/20/04)

 

ACT Concentrated Its Activities In 17 States: Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio And West Virginia. (Thomas B. Edsall, “Liberals Form Fund To Defeat President,” The Washington Post, 8/8/03)

 

“‘In My View, Ohio And Florida Are The Epicenters Of This Campaign,’ Steve Rosenthal, Chief Executive Officer Of America Coming Together, Said While Surveying Florida Operations This Week.” (Mark Silva, “Edwards Plays Key Role On Kitchen-Table Issues,” Orlando Sentinel, 7/9/04)

 

ACT’s Top Priority States Were Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio And Pennsylvania. “Steve Rosenthal, the former AFL-CIO political director who directs America Coming Together nationally, noted in an interview last week that Missouri will be among his group’s top five priorities along with Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.” (Bill Lambrecht, “Ohio Is Most Contested Of All Battlegrounds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/19/04)

 

In 2004, ACT Worked Extensively With 34-Member America Votes Coalition. “In 2004, ACT worked closely with the 34 members of the America Votes Coalition and many other grassroots organizations. We provided a stable and permanent infrastructure to support these combined efforts which made all of us more efficient and effective. ACT had the plan – the vote goals, targets, data and professional organizers – to harness this incredible grassroots energy and apply it where it was most effective.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

 

Hundreds Of Questionable Voter-Registration Applications Submitted By America Votes Coalition Members Were Challenged By Law Enforcement And Election Authorities In Key Swing States. “America Votes, which represents a collection of labor unions, trial lawyers, environmental groups and community organizations representing 20 million Americans, describes itself as a ‘nonpartisan political organization’ that seeks to use the strategic abilities and large membership base of its coalition members to ‘break new ground in electoral politics.’ Its goal is to ‘register, educate and mobilize’ voters for this year’s elections, but some of those efforts are now being challenged. Hundreds of questionable voter-registration applications, such as duplicates, and accusations of workers shredding registrations in favor of one party are under review by local, state and federal law-enforcement and election authorities in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oregon, Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida. The coalition spent more than $100 million on its voter-registration campaign, according to financial records and several people familiar with the member organizations. Despite its nonpartisan claim, its membership includes 32 groups committed to Mr. Bush’s defeat.” (Jerry Seper, “Soros-Supported Voter-Registration Drive Probed,” The Washington Times, 10/20/04)

 

America Votes Coalition Members:

 


ACORN

AFL-CIO

AFSCME

America Coming Together (ACT)

American Federation of Teachers

Association of Trial Lawyers of America

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

United With the Million Mom March

Clean Water Action

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

Democracy for America

EMILY’s List

Environment2004

The Human Rights Campaign

League of Conservation Voters

The Media Fund

MoveOn.org Voter Fund

Moving America Forward

Music for America

NAACP National Voter Fund

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Education Association

National Jewish Democratic Council

National Treasury Employees Union

Partnership for America’s Families

Planned Parenthood Action Fund

SEIU

Sierra Club

USAction

Voices for Working Families

Young Voter Alliance

21st Century Democrats


 

(America Votes Website, www.americavotes.org, Accessed 3/11/05)

 

ACT’s Activities State By State

 

ACT In Florida

 

ACT Spent $10 Million In Florida. (Adam C. Smith, “Party People: 20 Hours Of Sketches And Observations From Election Day 2004,” St. Petersburg Times, 11/7/04)

 

ACT Canvassers Visited Over 272,000 Florida Homes, Talked To More Than 125,000 People And Registered Over 31,000 In State. “America Coming Together representatives, for instance, lean toward the Democratic Party and have been to 272,845 homes, talked to 125,577 voters and registered 31,791 new voters, according to Florida Communications Director Tait Sye. He said the Bush effort doesn’t worry him. ‘We’ve been doing this for a couple of months now,’ Sye said. ‘They’re playing catch up to us, not the other way around.’” (Ted Byrd, “Candidates Lay Groundwork,” Tampa Tribune, 6/20/04)

 

ACT Expected To Have 120 Paid Canvassers In Florida By June With Offices In Tampa And Orlando. “ACT has paid Florida’s Democratic Party $60,000 for a list of active voters and has hired 80 paid canvassers in Florida, at $8 an hour, to register voters as well as query known independents and Democrats about their concerns in the presidential election. These forces, growing to 120 next month, carry personal digital assistants directing them to homes of voters in swing precincts and record the readings they take from voters. They are building a database of potential Kerry supporters and are targeting Central Florida. ‘We take today’s list in this precinct and pump it into the Palm [Tungsten PDA], so canvassers have a list of homes,’ said Tait Sye of Tampa-based ACT in Florida, which will open an Orlando office soon. ‘They ask two questions: One, what is the most important issue? And two, who is your choice? They click on forms, and it’s all downloaded.’ Twenty ACT canvassers will start a weeklong drive in Orlando today, focusing on the Eola Heights and Colonialtown South neighborhoods.” (Mark Silva, “Outsiders Fund Kerry’s Push To Win Florida,” Orlando Sentinel, 5/23/04)

 

ACT Sending Field Workers To Florida Universities This Summer. “Hoping to reverse that are groups such as America Coming Together, the group passing out pamphlets door-to-door in Orlando. The group sent out ‘86 Project’ field workers to seven university campuses this summer, including the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University, said spokesman Tait Sye. The 86 refers to the year students need to be born by in order to vote this year.” (David Damron, “College Students Plug Into Politics,” Orlando Sentinel, 6/20/04)

 

ACT In Iowa

 

ACT Working With State Democratic Party To “Replicate One Of The Nation’s Most Successful Get-Out-The-Vote Operations.” “In Iowa, the state party and ACT hope to replicate one of the nation’s most successful get-out-the-vote operations. A test case for deploying Palm Pilots, state Democrats dramatically increased absentee balloting in 2000 and swelled the margins of victory for Sen. Tom Harkin and Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2002.” (Ron Fornier, “Heartland Voters: Memories Of 2000 Energize Democratic Voters, Organizers,” The Associated Press, 4/26/04)

 

ACT Working In Old Iowa Kerry Headquarters.  “ACT is working out of the old Kerry headquarters in downtown Des Moines. They’ve got about a dozen paid staff and all these volunteers - from twenty - somethings to retirees - coming in for training, getting a real sense of what it’ll mean to go door-to-door around the city and state.” (“Activist Group Picks Up Where Candidates Left Off,” Des Moines Register, 4/5/04)

 

ACT In Minnesota

 

“In Minneapolis, Democratic Organizers Plan To Knock On 500,000 Doors. The Typical Voter Will Be Visited At Their Home Two Or Three Times And Receive Up To A Half Dozen Pieces Of Mail Before Nov. 2.” (Ron Fornier, “Heartland Voters: Memories Of 2000 Energize Democratic Voters, Organizers,” The Associated Press, 4/26/04)

 

ACT In Missouri

 

ACT Plans To Knock On Up To 1 Million Missouri Doors “At Least Three To Five Times – Identifying, Registering And Courting Potential Democrats, Then Getting Them To The Polls.” “‘We now know that ground-game activities are the way to go,’ said Donald Redmond, director of the Missouri ACT office. ‘It’s the star again, but we’re using technology to do it better.’ His team intends to knock on 850,000 to 1 million Missouri doors at least three to five times – identifying, registering and courting potential Democrats, then getting them to the polls.” (Ron Fornier, “Heartland Voters: Memories Of 2000 Energize Democratic Voters, Organizers,” The Associated Press, 4/26/04)

 

In February, ACT Said They Had Registered 49,000 New Voters In St. Louis And Kansas City, Planned To Double That Number Before Election Day. “America Coming Together is conducting a massive voter registration drive in five states, including Missouri. Locally, it’s largely targeting people who live in urban, Democratic-leaning neighborhoods. Organizers say their effort has added at least 49,000 new voters to Missouri’s rolls, most of them from the St. Louis area. They hope to double that number by the voter registration deadline this fall.” (Jo Mannies, “Independent Groups Outspend Bush In Campaign Advertising,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3/15/04)

 

ACT In New Hampshire

 

In New Hampshire, ACT Has Had “Two Dozen Paid Organizers And Scores Of Volunteers Doing Door-To-Door Canvasses Since April.” “The Democrats’ coordinated campaign is the beneficiary of a nominally independent effort by America Coming Together, which has had two dozen paid organizers and scores of volunteers doing door-to-door canvasses since April, emphasizing such down-home issues as the cost of medications and health care.” (David Broder, “Once Bedrock GOP, Granite State Is In Play,” The Washington Post, 9/28/04)

 

ACT Has $2 Million Budget In New Hampshire. “Nineteen paid staffers are working out of the Manchester office, which has a budget of $2 million. ACT plans to open similar offices in 17 battleground states. … ACT’s New Hampshire office is staffed by several former Dean, Joe Lieberman and Dennis Kucinich workers who are still dedicated to the Democratic cause.” (“Nonprofit Raises Soft Money To Defeat Bush,” The Associated Press, 5/9/04)

 

ACT Took Over Kerry’s Primary Headquarters Office In New Hampshire. “U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s campaign hasn’t had an office in New Hampshire since he won the Democratic presidential primary in January. But his former primary headquarters have been taken over by a nonprofit group hoping to defeat President Bush in November. The group, America Coming Together, or ACT, is one of a trio of nonprofits operating independently of the Kerry campaign to oppose Bush’s reelection.” (“Nonprofit Raises Soft Money To Defeat Bush,” The Associated Press, 5/9/04)

 

ACT Sponsored Appearance By Howard Dean In New Hampshire. “On Saturday, the organization sponsored an appearance by Kerry’s one of Kerry’s primary rivals, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and sent about 200 volunteers to knock on doors in the city. The group’s activities also will include phone banking and offering rides to voters on Election Day.” (“Nonprofit Raises Soft Money To Defeat Bush,” The Associated Press, 5/9/04)

 

ACT In New Mexico

 

ACT Is “Largest 527 In New Mexico.” “ACT is the largest 527 in New Mexico, said Chris Cervini, the New Mexico organizing director of America Votes. America Votes is an umbrella coordinating body working with unions, nonprofits and groups like ACT in this year’s election.” (Andy Lenderman, “PAC Canvasses City In Hopes Of Beating Bush,” Albuquerque Journal, 7/20/04)

 

ACT Has “About 100 Paid Staff Members And Several Hundred Volunteers” In New Mexico. (Arthur Simoni, “Gen V(ote),” Albuquerque Tribune, 7/27/04)

 

ü      ACT Has 72 Canvassers In Albuquerque, Plan To Hire Hundreds More. “There are currently 72 canvassers working in Albuquerque, [ACT spokeswoman Courtney] Hunter said. And by October, an estimated 200 canvassers will be working in places like Las Cruces, Santa Fe and most of the small towns and cities in New Mexico, she said.” (Andy Lenderman, “PAC Canvasses City In Hopes Of Beating Bush,” Albuquerque Journal, 7/20/04)

 

ACT Has $2 Million Budget For New Mexico. “Steve Rosenthal has three goals: Get voters back into politics; elect Democrats; defeat President Bush. To do that, his group, America Coming Together, is spending millions of dollars in swing states such as New Mexico. In an interview Wednesday, Rosenthal said his group has dedicated $2 million to its efforts in New Mexico. … They’ve opened an office in Albuquerque, with seven paid staffers working full time. Offices in Las Cruces and Santa Fe are forthcoming.” (Shea Andersen, “Group Wants New Voters, Democrats, Bush’s Ouster,” Albuquerque Tribune, 5/20/04)

 

Kerry New Mexico Caucus Director Geri Prado, Is Leading ACT’s Effort In State. “On the other side of Albuquerque, America Coming Together, a major national initiative to mobilize Democrats in 17 states, was setting up shop in a strip mall. Leading that group’s effort was Geri Prado, Kerry’s state director for the February caucuses in New Mexico.” (Michael Finnegan, “Kerry’s Low Profile May Cost Crucial Latino Votes,” Los Angeles Times, 5/3/04)

 

“ACT Has A Goal To Contact 200,000 New Mexico Voters.” (Andy Lenderman, “PAC Canvasses City In Hopes Of Beating Bush,” Albuquerque Journal, 7/20/04)

 

ACT Performed Background Checks On New Mexico Employees, Found No Felons. “Last month, The Associated Press reported that ACT had hired some felons in other states. [ACT spokeswoman Courtney] Hunter said background checks were done on New Mexico employees, and no felons were discovered.” (Andy Lenderman, “PAC Canvasses City In Hopes Of Beating Bush,” Albuquerque Journal, 7/20/04)

 

ACT In Ohio

 

ACT Became Ohio’s Largest Employer On Election Day With 30,000 Paid “Foot Soldiers.” “The liberal 527 America Coming Together (ACT), which overall spent $125 million registering voters and turning them out, had 30,000 paid foot soldiers in Ohio alone, making ACT, for a day, the state’s biggest employer.” (Nancy Gibbs et al., “In Victory’s Glow,” Time, 11/15/04)

 

ACT Spent $15 Million In Ohio. (Gregory Korte, “Now That It’s Over, We Can Laugh,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/7/04)

 

“Since Setting Up Shop In Ohio In September, ACT Has Knocked On 1 Million Doors, Talked To 520,000 People And Signed Up More Than 65,000 People To Vote, Although The County Boards Of Elections Must Verify Those Registrations.” (Jonathan Riskind and Alan Johnson, “‘527’ Groups Open Doors For Kerry,” The Columbus Dispatch, 6/21/04)

 

As Of June 2004, ACT Had 250 Canvassers And 15 Offices Around Ohio. “ACT’s 30 canvassers in Columbus and 250 in 15 offices statewide are just a small wave of a massive ground war being waged by the independent groups, known as 527 committees because of the applicable section of the tax code. Most of the groups are trying to advance Kerry’s campaign.” (Jonathan Riskind and Alan Johnson, “‘527’ Groups Open Doors For Kerry,” The Columbus Dispatch, 6/21/04)

 

ACT Planned To Have 4,000 People Going Door-To-Door In Ohio.  ACT already has get-out-the-vote specialists canvassing homes in Ohio to identify the most virulent opponents of the President.  When the effort is fully underway, says Jay Neel, ACT’s director in the state, 4,000 people will go door-to-door, PalmPilots in hand, collecting detailed intelligence that will be fed into a giant database.  The object, Neel says, is to register 200,000 new voters in all 88 counties and target each of them with the kind of information that will propel them to the polls on Election Day.”  (Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, “The New Soft Money,” Fortune, 10/27/03)

 

In Lake County, Man Dead For Two Decades Registered To Vote And Elderly Woman’s Signature In Question. “At least one Lake County voter would have made quite a comeback to cast a ballot Nov. 2. He has been dead for more than two decades, elections officials said. In a seemingly lesser miracle of wayward democracy, an elderly nursing home resident who only scrawls a shaky ‘X’ when signing official documents suddenly regained a firm, crisp cursive signature when she registered.” (Michael Scott, “Dead Man On Voter Rolls Sparks Inquiry,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 9/23/04)

 

ü      NAACP And ACT Responsible For Dead Man’s Registration And Signed Nursing Home Document, Respectively. “[Lake County Elections Board Director Jan Clair] said that the registration of the deceased man was filed by the National Voter Fund, the registration arm of the NAACP, and the woman in the nursing home was registered by the group Americans Coming Together, known in this state as ACT Ohio.” (Michael Scott, “Dead Man On Voter Rolls Sparks Inquiry,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 9/23/04)

 

o       “[Clair] Said ACT Ohio Had Been To Two Lake County Nursing Homes And A Number Of Registrations Were Now In Question.” (Michael Scott, “Dead Man On Voter Rolls Sparks Inquiry,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 9/23/04)

 

Trumbull County Investigating Possible ACT Voter Fraud.The Trumbull County Board of Elections asked the county prosecutor Tuesday to investigate possible fraud involving a voter registration card. The card was in by a group called America Coming Together, an interest group working to defeat president Bush. Elections board Director Norma J. Williams said card in question was for Justin Murphy of Hyde Avenue in Niles. Williams said his mother said her son did not fill out a voter registration card, the address, birth date and telephone number on the card were wrong and the signature was not his.” (Steven Oravecz, “Elections Board Questions Cards,” Tribune Chronicle, 5/6/04)

 

ACT In Pennsylvania

 

ACT Has Five Offices In Pennsylvania, Plans To Open Two More. “Klemunes was one of about 100 Penn Hills residents signed up in yesterday’s voter registration drive by volunteers and paid canvassers for America Coming Together, or ACT. The group, with five offices statewide and plans to open two more, also held voter registration and turnout campaigns in Johnstown and Erie yesterday.” (Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, “Voter Registration Campaign Underway,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/13/04)

 

ACT Has $8.5 Million Budget For Pennsylvania. “Financed in part by billionaire George Soros, ACT has a budget of $100 million for the 17 battleground states – including $8.5 million in Pennsylvania.” (Thomas Fitzgerald, “Focusing On Face Time In Battleground States,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/18/04)

 

In May, CNN Reported That ACT Had 85 Paid Staff Members In Pennsylvania. (CNN’s “American Morning,” 5/21/04)

 

“[ACT] Says It Has Knocked On 700,000 Doors [In Pennsylvania] Since April, Operating Out Of Field Offices In Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown And Johnstown.” (Thomas Fitzgerald, “Focusing On Face Time In Battleground States,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/18/04)

 

ACT Has Visited More Than 16,000 Homes In Allegheny County And Registered 1,800 Voters. “ACT – aided by a $10 million contribution from financier George Soros and funding from labor unions and some small individual donors – has visited more than 16,000 homes in Allegheny County and added 1,800 new potential voters to the registration rolls since April 4, according to the group’s organizers for southwest Pennsylvania.” (Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, “Voter Registration Campaign Underway,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/13/04)

 

ACT Has 23 Staffers In Lehigh Valley, “Including Reinforcements Sent From New York By The Service Employees International Union.” “For months, teams have been walking the urban neighborhoods, knocking on doors to register voters and stir up interest in the election. In Allentown recently, canvassers carrying handheld computers targeted the homes of Democratic voters. They asked residents to sign a pledge to vote and to join the Election Day get-out-the-vote effort. ‘We put in 80- to 100-hour weeks,’ said Siobhan ‘Sam’ Bennett, a local Democratic activist who directs the ACT effort in Lehigh Valley. She has 23 staffers, paid $8 to $10 an hour, including reinforcements sent from New York by the Service Employees International Union.” (Julia Malone, “Pennsylvania Valley Is Campaign Central,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/7/04)

 

ACT’s Steve Rosenthal Tested GOTV Techniques In 2003 Philadelphia Mayoral Race, Registering 86,000 New Voters And Helping Incumbent Democrat John Street To Victory. “After Rosenthal left the AFL-CIO, he tested some of the unions’ person-to-person techniques with regular voters during Philadelphia’s 2003 mayoral race. In connection with a labor-funded group, the Partnership for America’s Families, Rosenthal helped oversee the registration of some 86,000 new city voters to help boost the re-election chances of Democratic incumbent John Street. But the contact didn’t end once the new registrants were added to the voter rolls; they received additional contacts during the campaign. About 38,000 of these new voters, 44 percent of the total registered, made it to the polls, and this turnout helped Street win re-election. Among voters from the same neighborhoods and similar socio-economic backgrounds who had registered on their own, only 28 to 29 percent showed up on Election Day, said Rosenthal, who attributed the higher performance of his group to ‘layered communication over several months.’ Not surprisingly, the local architect of the Philadelphia experiment, Greg Naylor, is heading up the ACT operation in Pennsylvania.” (James A. Barnes, “Where Democrats Might Have An Edge,” The National Journal, 5/8/04)

 

ACT In Wisconsin

 

ACT’s “Dry Run” Of GOTV Strategy In Milwaukee Partly Attributed In State Sen. Gwen Moore’s Decisive Victory In 4th District Primary Race. “The get-out-the-vote strategy of America Coming Together Wisconsin appears to have inadvertently hurt a former state chairman for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the Milwaukee-based 4th district primary last week. Although ACT, whose goal is to elect Kerry, supported no particular candidate in the three-way Democratic House primary – by law it cannot as it is a 527 – it did a ‘dry run’ of its GOTV operation in the city’s black community, that it hopes to build on for November. That may have helped propel state Sen. Gwen Moore, the only black Democrat in the Congressional race, to her decisive win over attorney Matt Flynn and state Sen. Tim Carpenter. Flynn was Kerry’s Wisconsin campaign chairman until he resigned to seek the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D) in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. ACT’s primary day activity should ‘not be perceived as a slight to anybody,’ said Phillip Walzak, ACT Wisconsin’s spokesman. ‘The African-American community could be the deciding factor in November,’ he said, explaining that the voter drive was just an effort to ‘galvanize and energize’ Milwaukee’s 127,000 eligible black voters for Kerry. Walzak said that ACT just got people to the polls and that it was up to the three Democratic candidates to get those voters to pull the lever for them.” (Nicole Duran, “Pro-Kerry Group May Have Hurt Kerry Backer,” Roll Call, 9/21/04)

 

ACT’s Wisconsin Spokesman Said Canvassers Were “Knocking On Doors, Distributing Literature And Polling Residents On The Issues” In State, Expected Registration Drive To Begin In Mid-August. “ACT, funded by the soft money that political parties no longer can accept under the McCain-Feingold law, bills itself as the largest voter mobilization project in American history. Its goal, said ACT Wisconsin spokesman Phillip Walzak, is to defeat Bush and elect Democrats in federal, state and local elections in 2004. ACT Wisconsin expects to begin registering voters in mid-August, Walzak said. For now, he said, canvassers are knocking on doors, distributing literature and polling residents on the issues.” (Annysa Johnson, “Group Commemorates Evers’ Slaying With Canvass,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/13/04)

 

ACT’s Connections To Kerry Campaign

 

Former Kerry Campaign Manger Jim Jordan’s Consulting Firm Represents America Coming Together. “Michael Jordan wasn’t the only high-profile Jordan from North Carolina to get axed in 2003. Jim Jordan, a Winston-Salem native, was fired as John Kerry’s presidential campaign manager in November. Kerry found his campaign sputtering, and decided to shake things up. He hired Mary Beth Cahill, chief of staff to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., as his new campaign chief, and Jordan says his departure was ‘not under the happiest of circumstances.’ Now he has started his own consulting firm, called Thunder Road Group. The firm is representing America Coming Together, the Media Fund, and America Votes, all pro-Democratic 527 political organizations gearing up for the 2004 election.” (“People,” National Journal, 2/28/04) 

 

ü       Jordan Is Spokesman For America Coming Together, Media Fund And America Votes.  “James Jordan [is] a spokesman for three of the Democratic soft-money groups, America Coming Together, the Media Fund and America Votes …”  (Sharon Theimer, “Partisan Group ‘Soft Money’ Ban Sought,” The Associated Press, 1/12/04)

 

ü      Jordan: “I’m Working Every Day Still, From The Sidelines Here, To See That [Kerry’s] Elected.” “As the 2004 general election season approaches, Jordan sounds optimistic about the future, and not too bitter about the past. ‘Certainly, I’m rooting for Senator Kerry for a variety of personal and professional and ideological reasons. I’m proud of my work, I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m working every day still, from the sidelines here, to see that he’s elected.’” (“People,” National Journal, 2/28/04) 

 

Kerry Campaign Consultant Minyon Moore Serves On ACT’s Executive Committee. “[M]inyon Moore, a member of America Coming Together’s executive committee, is also a Kerry campaign consultant …” (Lisa Getter, “Kerry Aided By ‘Illegal’ Soft Money, GOP Claims,” Los Angeles Times, 4/1/04)

 

Former Kerry Political Director Luis Navarro Serves As ACT’s Western Coordinator. “But with the possibility of another close finish in November, if Kerry ‘can even shave off 2 or 3 percent’ of Bush’s Latino vote, it would be enough to tip states the president won last time, such as Nevada and Arizona, to Kerry, said Luis Navarro, former national political director of Kerry’s campaign and now ACT’s western coordinator.” (Paul West, “Bush In Battle To Keep Hispanic Vote,” The Baltimore Sun, 8/23/04)

 

Kerry’s Arkansas State Director Recently Worked For ACT. “U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign has appointed a Democratic operative who is an Arkansas native to lead the campaign in Arkansas, Kerry’s campaign said Monday. Rodney E. Shelton, a 33-year-old from Little Rock, was the North Carolina state director for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000 and assistant southern regional political director for President Clinton in 1996. He recently worked for Washington, D.C.-based America Coming Together, a group building a voter outreach network in 17 key states aimed at electing Kerry and other Democrats.” (Michael R. Wickline, “Arkansan To Head Kerry’s State Effort,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 6/22/04)

 

Kerry New Mexico Caucus Director Geri Prado Leading ACT’s Effort In State. “On the other side of Albuquerque, America Coming Together, a major national initiative to mobilize Democrats in 17 states, was setting up shop in a strip mall. Leading that group’s effort was Geri Prado, Kerry’s state director for the February caucuses in New Mexico.” (Michael Finnegan, “Kerry’s Low Profile May Cost Crucial Latino Votes,” Los Angeles Times, 5/3/04)

 

ACT Doing Work Of Kerry Campaign

 

ACT’s Harold Ickes: “We Are The Backbone Of The On-The-Ground Operations Here.” (“Fund-Raisers Lurk In Shadows Of Campaign Law,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/27/04)

 

Ohio Democratic Party Decided Not To Organize Voter Registration Drive Because ACT Is Doing It For Them. “While 527s are prohibited from coordinating any of their work with political parties or candidates, their voter drives clearly benefit the Ohio Democratic Party. So much so that its chairman, Denny White, said the party is not organizing a voter-registration drive. ‘We are not doing voter registration because we have all these groups working our base,’ he said. ‘There is no coordination. But we will spend our resources on communicating with Democrats’ already in their database.” (Mark Naymik, “ACT Seeks Voters, Gets Controversy,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 3/28/04)

 

ACT Provides Kerry Campaign’s “Ground Support.” “With their sights on Ohio and other battleground states, the groups within the America Votes coalition promise to be a force in the Democrats’ attempt to retake the White House. Though not officially connected to the Kerry campaign, they are in essence providing the ground support any campaign needs. ‘I think he can’t win without mobilization of the grass roots, and that’s a big piece of what we’re doing and what other people are doing,’ says JoDee Winterhof, political director for America Coming Together, or ACT.” (Stephen Koff and Mark Naymik, “Counting On 527,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 6/20/04)

 

The Washington Post: Bush’s Field Campaign In Ohio “Would Be Trampling” Kerry’s Were It Not For ACT. “Here in Ohio, President Bush’s fully staffed and methodical campaign would be trampling Sen. John F. Kerry’s (D-Mass.) barely existent state operation on the ground and air alike were it not for this year’s most novel political fact: the emergence of well-funded and aggressive independent groups on the left. The largest of these, America Coming Together, has 18 offices in Ohio, and its staff of 450 has already knocked on 235,000 doors.” (John F. Harris and Paul Farhi, “Taking The Campaign To The People, One Doorstep At A Time,” The Washington Post, 4/18/04)

 

UVA’s Larry Sabato: ACT And Other 527s Have “Kept Kerry Competitive Since He Won The Nomination.” “Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, says the groups have done ‘yeoman’s service’ for Kerry, adding that they’ve ‘kept Kerry competitive since he won the nomination.’” (Stephen Koff and Mark Naymik, “Counting On 527,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 6/20/04)

 

Sabato: “Anybody Who Says That Jim Jordan And Harold Ickes Don’t Know What The Kerry People Want Is Living In Another Solar System, Not Just On Another Planet.” “Yet political scientists and other specialists say it would be naive to believe the campaign and the ‘527’ operatives don’t keep one another informed. ‘Anybody who says that Jim Jordan and Harold Ickes don’t know what the Kerry people want is living in another solar system, not just on another planet,’ says Sabato. While they might not talk directly, ‘there are intermediaries,’ he says. ‘You know, they have lunches, they have dinners, they go to cocktail parties. Look, they’re in Washington. They bump into people on the street.’” (Stephen Koff and Mark Naymik, “Counting On 527,” [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, 6/20/04)

 

ACT Coordination With Democrats At Convention

 

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe Praised 527s At Convention. “‘The more people they involve, the more people they can register to vote, the more excitement they can get to get people fired up at the grassroots,’ said Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe. ‘Let them keep going. They’re not a distraction at all. They’re… helping us show America what a horrible administration the Bush-Cheney administration is for America.’” (Emily Pierce, “527s Cast Shadow Over Convention,” Roll Call, 7/27/04)

 

ACT’s Harold Ickes “Admits That He Occasionally Tells The Kerry Camp What He’s Up To, And He Insists It’s Perfectly Legal.” “The only handcuffs on the 527s are loophole-ridden rules that say they can’t both take soft money and coordinate their activities with the official party and candidates. Does that mean ACT and the Democratic National Committee poobahs never talk politics? Not exactly. Ickes admits that he occasionally tells the Kerry camp what he’s up to, and he insists it’s perfectly legal.” (Paula Dwyer, “Why 527 Is The Dems’ Lucky Number,” BusinessWeek Online, 7/28/04)

 

Ickes: “We Are The Backbone Of The On-The-Ground Operations Here.” (“Fund-Raisers Lurk In Shadows Of Campaign Law,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/27/04)

 

USA Today: ACT Set Up Office In Four Seasons Hotel Just Down Hall From DNC Finance Committee Office. “‘Our overriding purpose is to meet as many donors and fundraising people as possible,’ said Harold Ickes, who helps run two of the biggest groups, America Coming Together (ACT) and the Media Fund. The two groups have set up shop in Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel, in a meeting room down the hall from where the Democratic Party’s finance committee distributes convention credentials to some of its top donors. That’s no accident; the groups are hoping to get the attention of big donors who would like to do more to help Kerry but can’t because of a $25,000 limit on what they can give to the party.” (Jim Drinkard and Kathy Kiely, “Outside Fundraisers Staying Outside But Very Close,” USA Today, 7/28/04)

 

ABC News Reported That ACT Hospitality Lounge Is “Right Around The Corner” From DNC Finance Committee Offices At Four Seasons And Noted, “There Appears To Be A Close Relationship Between The People Running ACT And The Democratic Finance Committee.” “Boston’s most expensive hotel, the Four Seasons, is headquarters for the Democratic Party Finance Committee. The big contributors gather every morning on the second floor to collect the most sought-after credentials and tickets. … All this despite a new law to limit big money contributions to any one candidate to $2,000 per person. But there’s an easy way around that. Right around the corner on the same floor of the Four Seasons, as the Democrats, there’s a new political group called ACT, established last year by long-time Democrats. There are no limits on ACT because it is supposedly independent of the Democrats. … This morning, the ACT hospitality lounge was full of Democratic donors, and there appears to be a close relationship between the people running ACT and the Democratic Finance Committee. The ACT officials were very unhappy to have our cameras inside their hospitality lounge and actually took down the ACT sign outside their door. Later hotel security threatened to call the police if we continued to take pictures inside.” (ABC’s “World News Tonight,” 7/27/04)

 

ü      ACT And The Media Fund Briefed Reporters “Just Down The Hall From The DNC Finance Committee’s Hospitality Suite At Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel.” “In fact, you couldn’t get any closer coordination without it crossing the line into possible illegality. Reporters covering the Democratic convention couldn’t help but notice that ACT and The Media Fund were briefing journalists just down the hall from the DNC Finance Committee’s hospitality suite at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel.” (Paula Dwyer, “Why 527 Is The Dems’ Lucky Number,” BusinessWeek Online, 7/28/04)

 

ü      Top Democratic Party Donors Attended ACT Reception With Ickes And Malcolm, Group Set Up “Scheduled One-On-One Meetings With More Than 150 Democratic ‘Bundlers.’” “The two groups have set up shop in Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel, in a meeting room down the hall from where the Democratic Party’s finance committee distributes convention credentials to some of its top donors. … Some of the party’s top donors dropped by a reception on Tuesday where Ickes, ACT co-founder Ellen Malcolm, Rosenthal and a dozen fundraisers working for the groups turned on the charm. ‘There’s someone on our team who knows just about everybody here,’ Ickes said. The groups set up a hospitality room where conventiongoers could snack, watch the proceedings on a wide-screen TV or check their e-mail. They also were offered fancy credential holders created by designer Marc Jacobs. ‘It’s how you make people feel comfortable,’ ACT staff member Janice Enright said. In addition, the team has scheduled one-on-one meetings with more than 150 Democratic ‘bundlers’ – well-connected fundraisers with the ability to bring in lots of checks.” (Jim Drinkard and Kathy Kiely, “Outside Fundraisers Staying Outside But Very Close,” USA Today, 7/28/04)

 

ü      ACT President Ellen Malcolm “Met Monday With 40 Prospective Donors At A Private Lunch At The Four Seasons, The Hotel Where Most Of The Democratic National Committee And Kerry’s Top Fundraisers And Donors Are Staying.” “Ellen Malcolm, America Coming Together president, met Monday with 40 prospective donors at a private lunch at the Four Seasons, the hotel where most of the Democratic National Committee and Kerry’s top fundraisers and donors are staying. The America Coming Together team is just down the hall from where the DNC is issuing convention credentials to its finance team.” (Lisa Getter and Nick Anderson, “Group Readies Ads To Fill Void,” Los Angeles Times, 6/27/04)

 

ACT Meeting With Donors Privately At Convention. “Taking Advantage Of Proximity” To Major Democrat Donors. “But strategists say the important work is being done behind the scenes. ‘We’re meeting with our donors in small, private conversations,’ said Sarah Leonard, spokeswoman for ACT. Leonard noted that ACT is ‘taking advantage of the proximity’ of both established and potentially new donors.” (Emily Pierce, “527s Cast Shadow Over Convention,” Roll Call, 7/27/04)  

 

ACT Declared Its Presence At Convention “Openly, Even Brazenly.” “The mother of all 527s - America Coming Together, headed by Democratic Party heavyweights Ellen Malcolm, Harold Ickes and Steve Rosenthal – has declared its presence openly, even brazenly. On Saturday night, as thousands of reporters and media executives in taxis and buses streamed toward the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for the media welcoming party, dozens of volunteers wearing ACT T-shirts held up 6-foot-tall cardboard letters that spelled out such motivational messages as ‘VICTORY’ and ‘ACT.’” (Emily Pierce, “527s Cast Shadow Over Convention,” Roll Call, 7/27/04)  

 

ABC News: “[T]here Appears To Be A Close Relationship Between The People Running ACT And The Democratic Finance Committee.” (ABC’s “World News Tonight,” 7/27/04)

 

Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer Said ACT And The Media Fund “Have Raised Serious Questions This Week About Whether They Have Engaged In Illegal Coordination.”But Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, which studies campaign finance, said the groups ‘have raised serious questions this week about whether they have engaged in illegal coordination.’ The group already has filed two complaints against ACT with federal regulators.” (Jim Drinkard and Kathy Kiely, “Outside Fundraisers Staying Outside But Very Close,” USA Today, 7/28/04)

 

Center For Responsive Politics Director Larry Noble Said Close Interaction Between ACT And Democratic Party At Convention “Just Supports The View That These Are Shadow Parties, Because They Are Literally In The Shadow Of The Democratic Party.”That close interaction ‘just supports the view that these are shadow parties, because they are literally in the shadow of the Democratic Party,’ said Larry Noble, director of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzes the role of money in politics.” (Jim Drinkard and Kathy Kiely, “Outside Fundraisers Staying Outside But Very Close,” USA Today, 7/28/04)

 

Noble: 527s “Are Just An Offshoot Of The Party Itself.” “A campaign-finance law that took effect in 2002 bans the parties from collecting unlimited ‘soft money’ gifts from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. The law has simply shifted the money elsewhere, Noble said. He noted that the presence of Ickes, a member of the party’s executive committee, makes it even harder to distinguish the outsiders from the insiders. ‘To most observers, they are very intertwined. They are just an offshoot of the party itself.’” (Jim Drinkard and Kathy Kiely, “Outside Fundraisers Staying Outside But Very Close,” USA Today, 7/28/04)

 

BusinessWeek: “In Fact, You Couldn’t Get Any Closer Coordination Without It Crossing The Line Into Possible Illegality.” (Paula Dwyer, “Why 527 Is The Dems’ Lucky Number,” BusinessWeek Online, 7/28/04)

 

“Vote For Change” Tour Featuring Bruce

Springsteen Raised Millions For ACT

 

Bruce Springsteen Will Headline Swing State “Vote For Change” Tour To Raise Millions For ACT.Bruce Springsteen and an eclectic chorus of musicians, including R.E.M., the Dave Matthews Band, Keb’ Mo’ and Death Cab for Cutie, will stage concerts in nine of the presidential campaign’s swing states this fall to raise money and press voters to oust the Bush administration, organizers of the concerts said Wednesday. The weeklong lineup of rock concerts, to begin on Oct. 1 with shows in six Pennsylvania cities, signals an unexpected surge of political activism among some of the nation’s top recording artists. … Representatives of the artists’ coalition said they planned about 34 shows in 28 cities on the tour, called Vote for Change. In Ohio on Oct. 2, for example, Mr. Springsteen, R.E.M., John Fogerty and Bright Eyes are to perform in Cleveland, while the Dave Matthews Band, Jurassic 5 and My Morning Jacket are set to play in Dayton. Meanwhile, Pearl Jam and Death Cab for Cutie are to take the stage in Toledo, and John Mellencamp and Kenneth Edmonds, known as Babyface, are to play in Cincinnati. Other states on the tour include Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin, with the final performances in Florida on Oct. 8. The artists will perform without pay, and proceeds will go to America Coming Together, a group run by veteran Democratic supporters. The MoveOn political action committee, an arm of the liberal group MoveOn.org, which will present the tour, hopes to enlist hundreds of thousands of members at the shows. Organizers declined to predict how much they would raise for their get-out-the-vote efforts, as many plans are incomplete, but the total could easily be millions of dollars.” (Jeff Leeds, “Rock Stars Announce A Swing-State Tour,” The New York Times, 8/5/04)

 

ACT’s Future

 

The New York Times: “ACT Hopes To Become A Permanent Part Of The Political Landscape.” (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)

 

ACT Plans To “Lead The Fight Against George Bush’s Radical Right-Wing Agenda By Continuing Our Work In 7-9 Battleground States With Key Elections In 2005, 2006 And 2008.”In 2005, we will continue to lead the fight against George Bush’s radical right-wing agenda by continuing our work in 7-9 battleground states with key elections in 2005, 2006 and 2008. … For years, Democrats have neglected to support local organizing efforts in off-years. This fleeting commitment to organizing on the ground hobbles progressive’s ability to frame debate and limits the personal and targeted voter contacts that have been proven – by both sides – to lead to victory on Election Day. In 2005, ACT is undertaking a long-term strategy shaped by the lessons and realities of 2004. We are targeting key electoral precincts, working with candidates at all levels, and tapping the grassroots with a mix of old-school organizing tactics and leading-edge technologies. … In every election cycle, dozens of progressive interest groups work on behalf of Democrats up and down the ticket. Focused on the environment, abortion rights, gay rights and other issues, these passionate but disparate efforts are never able to match the highly organized state parties, church groups, and gun clubs that are at work year-round on behalf of Republican candidates. … Going forward, ACT will deepen its partnerships with progressive allies, elected officials and community organizers to support a unified grassroots response to the GOP and its allies.”  (ACT Website, http://acthere.com/plan, Accessed 3/11/05)

 

ACT Email: Continuing ACT’s Work Is “Only Way We’ll Beat The Republicans In 2006 And 2008.” “Today, ACT has the best voter file available with more than 65 million targeted Democratic voters in 17 states. We nearly built it from scratch, tracking responses and voting patterns precinct-by-precinct, person-to-person. This is ACT. Continuing this kind of work is the only way we’ll beat the Republicans in 2006 and 2008.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

 

ACT Email: “ACT Will Continue To Bring Together The Best Of Washington For The Sole Purpose Of Empowering You – In Your Hometown And Across The Country.” “Under Harold’s steady leadership, ACT will be much more than a voice of dissent. We want ACT to continue being your vehicle for changing America. … ACT will continue to bring together the best of Washington for the sole purpose of empowering you – in your hometown and across the country. By arming you with the best voter files, the best targeting and the best training available, ACT will continue to make an unprecedented investment into building state and local infrastructure to win elections and effect long term change.” (ACT Email, “My Friend, Harold Ickes,” 3/1/05)

 

ACT Email: Current Challenge Is To Keep “Extensive Infrastructure Up and Running.” “Today in the battleground states, as the rest of the political establishment has pulled out of town, the challenge is to keep this extensive infrastructure up and running. We must continue building our assets launching new programs tailored to the needs of the states we’re in.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

 

ACT On 2004 Election

 

ACT President Harold Ickes: “Had ACT Not Done What It Did, [Bush] Would Have Won By A Much Larger Percentage Of The Vote.” “‘This was not a runaway by any means,’ said Harold Ickes, a founder of the voter outreach group America Coming Together. ‘Had ACT not done what it did, they would have won by a much larger percentage of the vote. All the activities we did helped get the vote out. We just didn’t get enough out.’” (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)

 

ACT Email: “[F]or Our First Year, We Accomplished A Hell Of A Lot Against A Sitting War-Time President, And We Helped Elect Progressive Candidates Up And Down The Ticket In Some Key States.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

 

ACT Email: “[T]he More Times Voters Heard From ACT – From Canvassers At Their Doors, Volunteer Phone Calls And In Targeted Mailings – The More Likely They Were To Come Out And Cast Their Vote For Democrats.” “From a large sample of ‘undecided’ voters in four battleground states (Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), we proved last year that the more times voters heard from ACT – from canvassers at their doors, volunteer phone calls and in targeted mailings – the more likely they were to come out and cast their vote for Democrats. As each contact was part of a program, the margins grow exponentially with each layered communication.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

 

ACT’s Ellen Malcolm Pointed To Research Showing Undecided Voters Targeted By ACT Voting 55 Percent For Kerry As Proof They Did “Something Pretty Phenomenal, And It’s The Beginning Of Victories In The Future.” “Ms. Malcolm said the organization would weather Mr. Kerry’s loss and any disappointment from donors. She pointed to a survey by Peter D. Hart Research Associates that tracked a group of undecided voters whom ACT had been trying to mobilize in four swing states. The research showed that 55 percent of them voted for Mr. Kerry while 42 percent chose Mr. Bush, and that those who received more phone calls, letters or visits from ACT were more likely to support the senator. ‘People understand the program and what we are trying to accomplish,’ Ms. Malcolm said. ‘They see how we are learning, and they appreciate that. It’s not a one-shot deal for them. We’ve done something pretty phenomenal, and it’s the beginning of victories in the future.’” (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)