Originally known as the Progressive Legislative Action Network, the Progressive States Network (PSN) is a New York City-based association of leftist leaders and activists who seek to “pass progressive legislation in all fifty states by providing coordinated research and strategic advocacy tools to forward-thinking state legislators.” According to PSN, progressives need a plan to fight back against “corporate conservatism [run] amok.” Formerly known as the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN), PSN consistently advocates increased taxpayer expenditures on state-level social welfare programs and is directed by a number of political operatives with ties to George Soros’s Shadow Party.
PSN’s inaugural event in 2005 featured such luminaries as Speaker of the California Assembly Willie Brown, Senator John Edwards, Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta, and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The launch of PSN was co-sponsored by MoveOn.org; Andy and Deborah Rappaport, philanthropists of liberal causes and cofounders of the New Politics Institute; the Service Employees International Union; and the United Steelworkers Union.
PSN’s agenda focuses on the following priorities:
Increasing Democracy: “Elections should be publicly financed through clean elections where individual preferences, not economic resources, determine the victor, and where companies are barred from financing elections one day and receiving government contracts the next.”
Economic Growth: PSN calls for “environmentally sustainable growth” and the implementation of the “Living Wage.”
Rewarding Work: “We need to restore a meaningful freedom to form unions so that American workers can collectively negotiate better working conditions on their own behalf.”
Valuing Families: Supporting “reproductive freedom and contraceptive equity,” PSN advocates unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. Viewing the United States as an anti-poor, homophobic and xenophobic society, the organization rejects what it calls the “lie that traditional families are strengthened by scapegoating poor families, single mothers, gay partnerships or new immigrant families in our communities.”
Strengthening Communities: Characterizing the American criminal justice system as one that is excessively punitive and rife with racism, PSN says: “We need a more effective criminal justice system that includes the community in policing efforts, creates alternative courts and punishment for drug users and those suffering mental illness, and eliminates racial bias in the courts.”
In January 2007, PSN leadership co-hosted — along with Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and representatives from Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, MoveOn.org, and the Women Legislators’ Lobby — a conference call with lawmakers nationwide to plan an effective political and public-relations strategy for opposing President Bush’s proposed troop escalation in Iraq. Also in early 2007, PSN collaborated with MoveOn.org, True Majority, and the Women Legislators’ Lobby in a campaign that asked citizens nationwide to contact their congressional representatives and voice opposition to the troop escalation; According to PSN, as of March 2007 more than 10,000 people had sent letters to their House representatives via the PSN website.
PSN was co-founded by David Sirota, who currently serves as the organization’s co-chair. Previously a Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Sirota authored the 2007 book Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government – And How We Take It Back. He has also written for Working Assets, and he once served as a spokesman and press aide for Vermont Representative Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist.
Another co-founder and co-chair of PSN is Steve Doherty, who served in the Montana State Senate from 1991-2003, and is currently the Chairman of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission.
PSN operates a “Progressive States Taskforce” that works “to provide support to state campaigns seeking to enact [progressive] policies into law.” Task force members include representatives from: ACORN; the AFL-CIO; AFSCME; Americans for Health Care; Apollo Alliance; the Center for American Progress; the Center for Policy Alternatives; the Economic Policy Institute; Families USA; Free Press; the JR Commons Center; the Labor Project on Working Families; Mobility Agenda – Center for Community Change; Moms Rising; the Multi-States Working Families Consortium; the National Conference of Environmental Legislators; the National Employment Law Project; the National Partnership for Women & Families; Northeast Action; People for the American Way; Public Campaign; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Sierra Club; Skyline Public Works; Smart Growth America; the State Environmental Leadership Program; the UC-Berkeley Center for Labor Research; the Universal Health Care Action Network; and the Vote by Mail Project.
Members of PSN’s Board of Directors include: Wes Boyd, President of MoveOn; David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America; Texas Representative Garnet Coleman; New York Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat; Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers Union; Ellen Golombek, President of the SEIU-sponsored Americans for Health Care; Lisa Seitz Gruwell, Political Director for Skyline Public Works; former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Hoeffel; Executive Director of ACORN, Steve Kest; UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff; the 2006 Democratic nominee for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat, Ned Lamont; Founder and President of Free Press, Robert McChesney; Maine Representative Hannah Pingree; President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, John Podesta; Executive Assistant to the President of AFSCME, Lee Saunders; Naomi Walker, State Legislative Issues Coordinator for the AFL-CIO; Minnesota Representative Neva Walker; and Vermont Representative David Zuckerman.
PSN is a member organization of the Moving Ideas Network (MIN), a coalition of more than 250 leftwing activist organizations working in to develop and disseminate progressive policy and advocacy recommendations.