88 Third Avenue
Phone :718-222-3796 URL: Website
Front group for ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
Functions as a political party in New York State and Connecticut, running or cross-endorsing candidates for local, state, and federal office
Works closely with Hillary Clinton
Currently composed of some 30,000 members, the Working Families Party (WFP) is a front group for ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). WFP functions as a political party in New York State and Connecticut, promoting ACORN-friendly candidates. Unlike conventional political parties, WFP charges its members dues -- about $60 per year -- a policy characteristic of ACORN and its affiliates.
According to the party's website, WFP is a coalition founded jointly by ACORN, the Communications Workers of America, and the United Automobile Workers. However, ACORN clearly dominates the coalition. New York ACORN leader Steven Kest was the moving force in forming the party, and WFP headquarters are located at the same address as ACORN's national office, at 88 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
An outgrowth of the socialist New Party, WFP was created in 1998. According to a 2000 article by the Associated Press, its objective was (and still is) to "help push the Democratic Party toward the left." In pursuit of this goal, WFP runs radical candidates in state and local elections. Generally, WFP candidates conceal their extremism beneath a veneer of populist rhetoric, promoting bread-and-butter issues designed to appeal to union workers and other blue-collar voters, Republican and Democrat alike.
In order to gain “permanent” status on the New York state ballot, WFP needed to win a minimum of 50,000 votes in at least one political election. The fledgling party accomplished this in 1998 by cross-endorsing Democratic City Council Speaker Peter Vallone in that year's election gubernatorial race. Vallone lost the election, but his moderate Democrat politics -- which were utterly incompatible with ACORN's doctrine of militant class struggle -- helped to lure 51,325 unwitting New Yorkers into voting on the WFT line, thus qualifying the party for ballot status.
Having established itself in this surreptitious manner as a legitimate political party, WSP began seeking concessions from the major-party candidates, gaining leverage through its power to grant or deny its endorsements. Shortly after the party's launch in 1998, co-founder Bob Master said, “We are very clear that we are not abandoning the Democratic Party.” As another WFP organizer put it, the Working Families Party sought to move the Democrats “toward the progressive end of the spectrum.”
WFP benefits from a quirk of New York State (and Connecticut) election law which allows parties to "cross-endorse" candidates of other parties. Thus when Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate in 2000, she ran on both the Democratic Party ticket and the Working Families Party ticket. After receiving WFP's endorsement, Hillary vowed to wage a "people's grassroots campaign." "I consider this the beginning of a partnership," she told a cheering crowd of supporters. During the campaign, Mrs. Clinton spoke at numerous WFP events, most
memorably at the party's debut convention, held March 26-27, 2000 at the
Desmond Hotel in Albany -- an event which the Communist newspaper People's Weekly World
approvingly called "a turning point in New York politics."
"Candidates know that when they're on our line, they're committed to certain things," said Bertha Lewis,
who served as WFP co-chair and New York ACORN Executive Director.
Speaking days before Mrs. Clinton won her Senate seat in 2000, Lewis
noted, "Hillary knows that if she wins, we're going to be knockin' on
her door. She won't be able to hide."
Of the 3.4 million popular votes Mrs. Clinton received from New Yorkers in the Senate election, the Working Families Party delivered 103,000.
In the November 2000 election, WFP also cross-endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, winning 80,000 votes for him. "[T]here have been few candidates in history more
supportive of our issues than Al Gore and Hillary Clinton," proclaimed
WFP campaign literature.
In the 2004 election cycle, a new force entered New York politics: billionaire financier George Soros. The Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance -- a drug legalization lobby through which Soros often funnels political contributions -- gave $81,500 to the Albany County District Attorney campaign of Democrat David Soares. Instead of donating the money directly, however, the Drug Policy Alliance laundered Soros' contribution through the Working Families Party -- an illegal act according to New York State law.
WFP expanded into Connecticut in 2004, and promised that it would soon be active in all ten states where "fusion voting" -- that is, cross-endorsement of candidates by multiple parties -- is still legal. Those states include Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont.
In 2006, WFP exhorted voters to “help stop the Bush agenda and elect a Democratic majority to the House of Representatives” by supporting its “Take Back Congress” project.
In 2009, WFP supported New York State's newly increased "millionaire's tax" on the income of individuals earning $500,000 or more per year. When New York billionaire Tom Golisano (whose tax liability rose to $13,000 per day as a result of the tax hike) announced that he would be moving to Florida (which has no state income tax), WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor Called Golisano's move "selfish." "It's a disgrace," said Cantor, "that this is how he pays back the state where he was presumably educated and that's been so good to him. Taxes are the price you pay for civilization."
In the fall of 2011, WFP supported the anti-capitalist movement known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS). In October of that year, the Party posted a help-wanted ad on Craig's List, whose caption read: “Make $350-650 a week 'protesting' on Wall Street." Said the ad as well: "You must be an energetic communicator, with a passion for social and economic justice."
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