See also: Organizing For Action
The Common Purpose Project (CPP) was established in 2009 “to bring together progressive leaders and organizations in an effort to collaborate on effective public policy messaging,” with an eye toward advancing “a winning progressive agenda.” As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, CPP focuses chiefly on policy work rather than on political elections. Whenever a major public-policy debate emerges, the organization initiates short-term projects designed to produce public-opinion research promoting “creative executions of effective progressive arguments or other tactical strategies.”
In early 2009, CPP began holding meetings every Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, DC. These gatherings brought together top officials from a host of prominent left-wing organizations—Change to Win and MoveOn.org being among the most notable—supportive of President Barack Obama's agendas. White House communications director Ellen Moran was also present at the meetings, where the top priorities were to “provid[e] a way for the White House to manage its relationships” with activist organizations, and to teach left-wing commentators to speak with a disciplined, unified voice in their day-to-day political messaging.
CPP's founder is the Democratic Party operative Erik Smith, who advises corporations, nonprofits, and individuals vis a vis their communications strategies. Previously, Smith served as communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; senior communications advisor to Rep. Dick Gephardt's 2004 presidential campaign; and media advisor to the Obama-Biden presidential ticket of 2008. In addition to his work with CPP, Smith is currently a board member of Business Forward. He also works for the political consulting firm Blue Engine Message & Media, which runs CPP. “The goal” of CPP, said Smith in 2009, “is to convene a group of people that identify the most effective progressive messages and to advance a progressive policy agenda.” Another key objective, Smith added, is to minimize “party infighting” as much as possible.
CPP's first political director was Miti Sathe, who also served as associate director of the Obama White House's Office of Public Engagement. Another key figure involved with CPP during its formative period was Rahm Emanuel.
CPP's leadership today consists of a number of experienced political professionals, all of whom have close ties to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party:
In 2012, ten individual donors contributed $5,000 or more to CPP; one of these was Rob McKay, who gave $25,000.
In January 2013, Jim Messina, national chairman of the newly formed Organizing For Action (OFA)—a nonprofit issue-advocacy group dedicated to advancing President Obama's agendas—cited CPP as “the model” on which OFA was based.
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