The Shadow Party: History, Goals, and Activities

The Shadow Party: History, Goals, and Activities


The Shadow Party: History, Goals, and Activities

By Richard Poe

Part 1: Overview

The so-called “Shadow Democratic  Party” or “Shadow Party” is a nationwide network of non-profit activist groups, whose agendas are ideologically to the left, which are engaged in campaigning for the Democrats. Its activities include fundraising, get-out-the-vote drives, political advertising and covert operations (including opposition research, media manipulation and “dirty tricks”).

The Shadow Party was conceived and organized principally by George SorosHillary Clinton and Harold McEwan Ickes – all identified with the Democratic Party left.

In its mix of more than five-dozen unions, activist groups and think tanks, the Shadow Party has built a mighty coalition, marrying the youthful energy of the MTV generation with the ideological fervor of New Left activists who cut their political teeth in the battles of the 1960s with the ruthless tactics and financial power of New Labor, whose flagship unions – the SEIU and the AFSCME – have managed to thrive while other unions shrink, through the ingenious expedient of organizing workers in the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy: the government workforce. Many of the political strategists and operatives spearheading this government union movement are veterans of the New Left themselves.

As the Democratic Party becomes ever-more dependent on the Shadow Party for its funding and foot-soldiers, the Shadow Party gains leverage with which to impose its radical agendas on the more moderate Democrat rank and file.

The Power Center

A political consultancy called The Thunder Road Group (TRG) serves as the unofficial headquarters of the Shadow Party. TRG is located on the 7th Floor of the historic Motion Picture Association Building at 888 16th Street NW, Washington DC, 20006.

Three other Shadow Party groups also lease space in the same building, including America Coming Together (ACT); America Votes; and The Partnership for America’s Families (PAT).

The clustering of these groups in a building owned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) may be more than coincidental.  The MPAA has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Democratic Party; many high-ranking Democrats have slipped comfortably from government jobs into glamorous posts in the MPAA’s upper management.

In March 2004, for instance, Dan Glickman succeeded Jack Valenti as MPAA president. Valenti was a Democrat lobbyist and former aide to President Lyndon Johnson. Glickman was formerly a Democratic Congressman from Kansas, who later served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton White House. Now, as MPAA president, Glickman holds what is arguably the most powerful position in Hollywood.

The Shadow Party draws much of its funding from the entertainment world. According to the Center for Public Integrity(as of August 2004), Jane Fonda is the third largest Shadow Party donor ($13,085,750) followed by Hollywood producer Stephen Bing in fourth place ($9,869,014). The second and first spots are held respectively by George and Susan Soros ($13,120,000) and by Soros’ long-time friend and collaborator, insurance mogul Peter B. Lewis ($14,175,000).

The Shadow Campaign

The term “Shadow Party” derives from the fact that the network carries out campaign activities which the Democratic Party would normally perform itself.

However, the Party can no longer perform these activities effectively. Thanks to the soft-money ban enacted by the McCain-Feingold Act of March 27, 2002, the Democratic Party can no longer raise enough money legally to undertake a national presidential campaign. Most Democrat campaigning is now done by the Shadow Party, which raises its own money independently.

No Republican Counterpart

Republicans have also responded to McCain-Feingold by raising soft money through independent groups. However, no elaborate Shadow Party has emerged among Republicans comparable to that of the Democrats.

Part of the reason is that Republicans are less dependent on soft money than Democrats. Republicans fund their campaigns mainly through small, hard-money contributions from rank-and-file supporters. Such contributions are permitted under McCain-Feingold, which allows donors to give up to $2,000 per candidate per year to political parties, and up to $5,000 per year to registered federal Political Action Committees (PACs).

Democrats are far more dependent on the sorts of huge, soft-money donations from unions, corporations and wealthy supporters which the Democratic Party is now forbidden to accept under McCain-Feingold.

Third Party in the Making?

The Shadow Party’s independence has proved a double-edged sword for Democrats. On the one hand, it allows Democrats to circumvent the law, by delegating soft-money collection to outside agencies. On the other hand, the Democrats have become so dependent on those outside agencies that some Shadow Party operatives have begun to question whether they even need the empty shell of the Democratic Party any longer.

Why not break off and form their own party, they ask?

On July 25, 2004, The New York Times Magazine published  a cover story by Matt Bai, titled, “Wiring the Vast Leftwing Conspiracy,” on the eve of the Democratic Convention’s opening ceremonies in Boston. The story might just as well have been called, “The Democratic Party Is Dead – Long Live the Shadow Party!” For that was the clear message it conveyed.

“As Democrats converge on Boston this week to hold their party convention and formally anoint Kerry as their nominee, all the talk will be of resurgence, unity and a new sense of purpose. Don’t be fooled,” Bai warned.

According to Bai, the unspoken question haunting the convention would be, “in the era after big government,” what “is the party’s reason for being?” Bai proceeded to regale his readers with a dismal recitation of figures documenting the collapse of Democrat power. He wrote:

“Since the 1950s, when nearly half of all voters called themselves Democrats, nearly one in six Democrats has left the party, according to a University of  Michigan study, while Republican membership has held close to steady.

“…[T]he Democratic Party has  seen an exodus of the white working-class men who were once their most reliable voters. In the suburbs… the percentage of white men supporting the party has plummeted 16 points just since Bill Clinton left office.

“…[Democrats] have spent most of the last decade in the minority, and during that time they have never enjoyed a majority of more than a single vote. … Thirty years ago, Democrats could claim outright control of 37 state legislatures, compared with only 4 for Republicans; Democrats now control just 17.”

“The deterioration is steady, and it’s spreading like a cancer,” Democrat strategist and pollster Patrick Caddell told Bai. “So much for thinking that if we could just go back to the glorious 90s, the party would be fine. The 90s were our worst decade since the 1920s.”

What To Do?

According to Bai, the last best hope for “progressive” politics in America lies in what he calls the “vast leftwing conspiracy” – the Shadow Party.

With the Democratic Convention about to unfold, Bai urged readers to “be sure to take a long, last look.” “The Democratic Party of the machine age,” he said, “so long dominant in American politics, could be holding its own Irish wake near Boston’s North End. The power is already shifting – not just within the party, but away from it altogether.”

Power is shifting, said Bai, to the network of independent issue groups controlled by Soros, Ickes and their allies.

“This is like post-Yugoslavia. We used to have a strongman called the party. After McCain-Feingold, we dissolved the power of Tito,” exulted Andrew Stern, president the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Shadow Party co-founder Harold Ickes told Bai:

“When you go out and talk to them, people are much more interested in something like than in the  Democratic Party. It has cachet. There is no cachet in the Democratic Party.

“MoveOn raised a million dollars for a bunch of Texas state senators, man. Plus their bake sale. If they continue with their cachet and really interest people and focus their people on candidates — boy, that’s a lot of leverage. No party can do that. And what the political ramifications of that are –” Ickes’s voice trailed off. He shrugged. “Who knows?”

According to Bai, “[N]ext-generation liberals… have come to view progressive politics as a market in need of entrepreneurship, served poorly by a giant monopoly — the Democratic Party. … People like [Shadow Party operatives] Andy Rappaport and Jonathan Soros might succeed in revitalizing progressive politics — while at the same time destroying what we now call the Democratic Party.”

SEIU leader Andrew Stern expresses the point more bluntly. “There is an incredible opportunity to have the infrastructure for a third party,” he says. “Anyone who could mobilize these groups would have the Democratic Party infrastructure, and they wouldn’t need the Democratic Party.”

What exactly would such a third party do that today’s Democrats cannot… or will not?

In the past, Bai explains, contributions to the Democratic Party simply vanished down a black hole, to be spent as Party leaders saw fit. The 527s allow “ideological donors” such as Soros to apply their money to specific projects which enable them to shape Party goals and strategy – or even by-pass the Party altogether.

New Democrat Network president Simon Rosenberg told Bai that independent 527s would be free to attack ideological foes with a forcefulness mainstream Democrats would never dare display. Insurgents such as Rosenberg are looking for a “more defiant kind of politics,” which confronts head-on the “sharp ideological divide between them and the Rush Limbaugh right,” notes Bai.

In the final analysis, the movers and shakers of the Shadow Party may or may not decide to break off and go it alone. Either way, their power continues to grow. Already they wield considerable influence over the platform and strategy of the Democratic Party, due to their control of Democrat fundraising. Should any Democrat manage to take the White House, the Shadow Party will no doubt reign behind the scenes.

Shadow Party: Origin of the Term

No one knows who first coined the term “Shadow Party.”

In the November 5, 2002 Washington Post, writer Thomas B. Edsall wrote of “shadow organizations” springing up to circumvent McCain-Feingold’s soft money ban.

Journalist Lorraine Woellert first called the Democrat 527 network a “shadow party” in a September 15, 2003 Business Week article titled, “The Evolution of Campaign Finance?”

Other journalists quickly followed suit.

Some journalists refer to the Shadow Party as “the 527s” or “the 527 groups.” These terms derive from the fact that most of the non-profit groups within the Shadow Party are registered under Section 527 of the U.S. tax code. Section 527 groups face weaker regulation and looser disclosure requirements than other types of non-profit groups. Thus they are better suited for operating in the shadows, in areas of dubious legality.

Part 2 – History

As noted in the Overview, the Shadow Party is a network of independent, non-profit groups used by Democrat activists to raise campaign funds in defiance of the McCain-Feingold Act of March 27, 2002.

However, the Shadow Party’s origins predate McCain-Feingold by many years. Its ultimate purpose seems to go beyond mere fund-raising.

The principal movers behind the Shadow Party are George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Harold McEwan Ickes – all partisans of the Democratic Party left. The rise of the Shadow Party has provided leftwing Democrats with a power base independent of the party machinery from which to push the Party in an ever-more-radical direction.

From Shadow Convention to Shadow Party

Wall Street billionaire George Soros is the Shadow Party’s principal founder and mastermind. Only Soros knows for certain when he first conceived the idea of forming a Shadow Party. However, clear hints of Soros’ intentions began to appear as early as the 2000 election.

It was in 2000 that Soros sponsored the so-called “Shadow Conventions.” Organized by author, columnist, socialite and political gadfly Arianna Huffington, the Shadow Conventions were media events designed to lure news crews from the real party conventions that year. Huffington held her “Shadow Conventions,” at the same time and in the same cities as the Republican and Democratic Conventions, in Philadelphia and Los Angeles respectively, and featured leftwing critics of mainstream politics.

The largest single donor to the Shadow Conventions was George Soros, who shouldered about one-third of the cost, according to Time magazine  (Andrew Ferguson, “The Arianna Sideshow,” Time Magazine, July 31, 2000, p 22). At the time, media commentators played the Shadow conventions for comic relief. Yet these events conveyed a serious message – one which George Soros evidently endorsed.

Third Force

The Shadow Conventions promoted Huffington’s view that neither Democrats nor Republicans served the interests of the American people any longer. US politics needed a third force to break the deadlock, she declared.

Among the issues highlighted at the Shadow Conventions were racism, class inequality, marijuana legalization and campaign finance reform. Most speakers and delegates pushed a hard-left line, accompanied by “Free Mumia” chants from the crowd and an incendiary tirade by Jesse Jackson.

A former conservative, Huffington told reporters, “I have become radicalized.”

The Shadow Conventions were purely symbolic affairs. They fielded no candidates for office. However, many of Soros’ activities during the 2000 campaign went beyond symbolism. It was during the 2000 election that Soros first experimented with raising campaign funds through Section 527 groups.

The Soros Stealth PACs

In preparation for the 2000 election, Soros assembled a team of wealthy Democrat donors to help him push two of his pet issues – gun control and marijuana legalization.

Their donations greatly exceeded the limits on political contributions stipulated by campaign finance laws. Soros therefore laundered their contributions through Section 527 groups – dubbed “stealth PACs,” by the media of that time.

One of Soros’ stealth PACs was an anti-gun group called The Campaign for a Progressive Future (CPF). This group sought to neutralize the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), by targeting for defeat any political candidate, at any level, whom the NRA endorsed. Soros personally seeded CPF with $500,000. Others gave more.

During the 2000 election, CPF funded political ads and direct-mail campaigns in support of state initiatives favoring background checks at gun shows. Soros used other 527s to agitate in favor of pro-marijuana initiatives which appeared on the ballot in various states that year.

Donors to Soros’ stealth PACs during the 2000 election cycle included insurance mogul Peter B. Lewis and InfoSeek founder Steven Kirsch, both of whom would turn up as major contributors to Soros’ Shadow Party during the 2004 election season.

The Hillary-Soros Axis

Soros grew close to the Clintons during the 1990s. Their ascension to power gave him easy entreé to Washington elites of a sort he had long coveted but never enjoyed.

Soros became the Clintons’ unofficial envoy to Russia and to other former Communist states. The assignment proved lucrative for him. Soros made a fortune in the so-called “Russiagate” phenomenon  – the orgy of backroom “privatization” deals and Russian junk bond issues which Clinton officials such as Strobe Talbot, Al Gore and Lawrence Summers helped foster in the former USSR.

More importantly, Soros discovered in Hillary Clinton an ideological soulmate. Hillary shared his aversion to U.S. “hegemony.” Like Soros, she sought to subordinate U.S. interests to global interests; U.S. sovereignty to global government; U.S. law to global courts; U.S. wealth to global taxation; and U.S. productivity to a scheme for global income redistribution. Hillary also shared Soros’ hostility to Israel.

Soros and Hillary formed a friendship based upon their mutual beliefs. When the Clintons left office, Soros dedicated himself to restoring Hillary to the White House.

Building a Shadow Government

Soros has long experience in effecting “regime change.”  He helped fund the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” that brought Vaclav Havel to power in the Czech Republic. By his own admission, he has helped engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia, Georgia and Yugoslavia.

When Soros targets a country for “regime change,” he begins by creating a shadow government – a soup-to-nuts government-in-exile, ready to assume power when the opportunity arises. The Shadow Party Soros has built in America greatly resembles those he has created in other countries, prior to instigating a coup.

At the heart of the American Shadow Party is a “think tank” called the Center for American Progress (CAP). This curious institution was Soros’ brainchild. In a March 1, 2004 report in The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss wrote:

“The  idea for the Center began with discussions in 2002 between [Morton] Halperin and George Soros, the billionaire investor. … Halperin, who heads the office of Soros’ Open Society Institute, brought [former Clinton chief of staff John] Podesta into the discussion, and beginning in late 2002 Halperin and Podesta circulated a series of papers to funders.”

Halperin is a veteran leftist critic of national security policies. Soros and Halperin also recruited Harold Ickes – chief fundraiser and former deputy chief of staff for the Clinton White House – to help organize the Center. It was launched on July 7, 2003 as the American Majority Institute. The name was changed to Center for American Progress (CAP) on September 1, 2003.

A Think Tank of Her Own

The official purpose of the Center was to provide the left with something it supposedly lacked – a think tank of its own. Where was the left’s Heritage Foundation, asked Soros and Halperin?

Of course, the left had plenty of think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute, the Economic Policy Institute, the Center on Budget and Policy, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the famously influential Progressive Policy Institute, not to mention the Kennedy School for Government at Harvard and numerous similar academic institutions firmly in control of the left.

Regarding the new think tank proposed by Soros and Halperin, Hillary Clinton told Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine on October 12, 2003, “We need some new intellectual capital. There has to be some thought given as to how we build the 21st-century policies that reflect the Democrat Party’s values.”

Expanding on this theme, Hillary later told The Nation‘s Robert Dreyfuss, “We’ve had the challenge of filling a void on our side of the ledger for a long time, while the other side created an infrastructure that has come to dominate political discourse. The center is a welcome effort to fill that void.”

Soros and Hillary seemed to understand the need for the new Center, even if they did not always succeed in explaining it to others. They found fault with every existing leftwing think tank. Even Bill Clinton’s own Progressive Policy Institute was too moderate, too accomodating to the status quo. No existing think tank seemed to fit their purpose. But what was their purpose?


Hillary Clinton tries to minimize the depth of her involvement with the Center for American Progress (CAP) – as indeed she does habitually in all matters connected with the Shadow Party. Beltway insiders are not fooled, however. Persistent press leaks confirm that Hillary calls the shots at CAP – not John Podesta.

“It’s the official Hillary Clinton think tank,” an inside source confided to Christian Bourge of United Press International.

Many ideological purists on the Left dismiss the Center as a platform for Hillary’s presidential ambitions. And, of course, they are right.

As Robert Dreyfuss notes in The Nation, “In looking at Podesta’s center, there’s no escaping the imprint of the Clintons. It’s not completely wrong to see it as a shadow government, a kind of Clinton White-House-in-exile – or a White House staff in readiness for President Hillary Clinton.”

Dreyfuss notes the abundance of Clintonites on the Center’s staff, among them Clinton’s national security speechwriter Robert Boorstin; Democratic Leadership Council staffer and former head of Clinton’s National Economic Council Gene Sperling; former senior advisor to Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget Matt Miller; and so on. Dreyfuss writes:

“[T]he center’s kickoff conference on national security in October [2003], co-organized with The American Prospect and the Century Foundation, looked like a Clinton reunion, featuring Robert Rubin, Clinton’s Treasury Secretary;  William Perry, his Defense Secretary;  Sandy Berger, his National Security Adviser; Richard Holbrooke and Susan Rice, both Clinton-era Assistant Secretaries of State; Rodney Slater, his Transportation Secretary;  and Carol Browner, his EPA administrator, who serves on the center’s  board of directors.”

Naturally, Hillary Clinton also attended the event, Dreyfuss reports.

The Seven Sisters

No one ever forged a political movement from behind the desk of a Washington think tank. The Shadow Party needed warm bodies and lots of them – real, flesh-and-blood American voters. And that meant going to the grassroots.

Harold Ickes undertook the task of building a 21st-century version of the Left’s traditional alliance of the “oppressed,” the disgruntled, and the “disenfranchised.”  He knitted together a crazy-quilt of pro-abortion activists, leftwing minority groups and leftwing labor unions.

By the time Ickes was done, he had created or helped to create six new groups, and had co-opted a seventh called Together, they constitute the administrative core of the Shadow Party. We might call them the “Seven Sisters.” They are:

  1. America Coming Together (ACT)
  2. America Votes
  3. Center for American Progress (CAP)
  4. Joint Victory Campaign 2004(JVC)
  5. The Media Fund(TMF)
  7. The Thunder Road Group (TRG)

The Southampton Meeting

In a November 11, 2003 interview with Laura Blumenfeld of the Washington Post, George Soros described how he jumpstarted the Shadow Party in the summer of 2002. The Wall Street billionaire told how he summoned a team of political strategists, activists and Democrat donors to his Southampton beach house in Long Island. According to The Washington Post, attendees included:

Morton H. Halperin

Director of Soros’ Open Society Institute in Washington, DC

John D. Podesta

Democrat strategist; former Clinton chief of staff; founder and president of leftwing think tank Center for America Progress (CAP)

Jeremy Rosner

Democrat strategist and pollster; ex-foreign policy speechwriter for Clinton; former special advisor to Secretary of State Madeline Albright on NATO

Robert Boorstin

Democrat strategist and pollster; ex-national security speechwriter for Clinton; former advisor to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin

Carl Pope

ACT co-founder; Democrat strategist and environmentalist;

Executive Director, Sierra Club

Steve Rosenthal

Labor leader; CEO of the leftwing activist group America Coming Together (ACT); former chief advisor on union matters to Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich; former Deputy Political Director under DNC chairman Ron Brown; AFL-CIO Political Director (1996 – 2002)

Peter Lewis

Major Democrat donor and insurance entrepreneur; founder and chairman of Progressive Corporation

Rob Glaser

Major Democrat donor and Silicon Valley pioneer;

RealNetworks founder and CEO

Ellen Malcolm

Co-founder and president of grassroots “voter contact” group America Coming Together (ACT); founder of Emily’s List – a political action committee whose litmus test for candidates is that they must support the most radical forms of abortion, including partial birth abortions.

Rob McKay

Major Democrat donor and Taco Bell heir; McKay Family

Foundation president

Lewis and Dorothy Cullman

Major Democrat donors; founders of Lewis and Dorothy Cullman Foundation in New York; Lewis B. Cullman is heir to the Benson & Hedges tobacco fortune (a company his family no longer owns), as well as founder and chairman of Cullman Ventures Inc., which makes diaries and appointment books.

Others may have been present, but were not mentioned in the article. At the meeting, Soros laid out his plan to defeat President Bush. He began implementing his plan before the meeting had adjourned. Blumenfeld writes:

“Standing on the back deck, the evening sun angling into their eyes, Soros took aside Steve Rosenthal, CEO of the liberal activist group America Coming Together (ACT), and Ellen Malcolm, its president. They were proposing to mobilize voters in 17 battleground states. Soros told them he would give ACT $10 million. …

“Before coffee the next morning, his friend Peter Lewis, chairman of the Progressive Corp., had pledged $10 million to ACT. Rob Glaser, founder and CEO of RealNetworks, promised $2 million. Rob McKay, president of the McKay Family Foundation, gave $1 million, and benefactors Lewis and Dorothy Cullman committed $500,000.

“Soros also promised up to $3 million to Podesta’s new think tank, the Center for American Progress.”

The Shadow Party had been born.

Ready for Action

By late 2003, the Shadow Party was ready for action. Soros issued an open call for “regime change” in the United States.

“America under Bush is a danger to the world,” Soros told Laura Blumenfeld in that same November 11, 2003 interview. Toppling Bush, said Soros, “is the central focus of my life… a matter of life and death. And I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.”

Would Soros spend his entire $7-billion fortune to defeat Bush? “If someone guaranteed it [Bush’s defeat],” Soros told Blumenfeld.

Part 3 – Groups

New groups are constantly being formed in the Shadow Party, while others vanish. To determine how many groups exist in the Shadow Party at any given time is difficult. Even more daunting is try to determine the purpose of each group.

In some cases, groups seem to have no function other than to transfer funds from one 527 to another, perhaps in order to obscure the money trail. On December 10, 2003, for instance, a 527 group called the Sustainable World Corporation suddenly sprang into existence in Houston, Texas. Within days of its birth, it gave $3.1 million to the Joint Victory Campaign 2004, which in turn disbursed half of the payment to Harold Icke’s Media Fund.

To follow the comings and goings of such ephemeral apparitions as the Sustainable World Corporation lies beyond the scope of this project. Our goal here is not to offer a comprehensive list of every Shadow Party organization, but rather to identify those groups that appear critical to the network’s mission.

The Seven Sisters

The seven groups listed below constitute the administrative core of the Shadow Party. All seven are located in Washington DC.

  1. America Coming Together (ACT)
  2. America Votes
  3. Center for American Progress (CAP)
  4. Joint Victory Campaign 2004 (JVC)
  5. The Media Fund (TMG)
  7. The Thunder Road Group (TRG)

Three of the Seven Sisters lease offices in the Motion Picture Association Building at 888 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20006. Those three groups are America Coming Together (ACT), America Votes, and The Thunder Road Group (TRG). Two others – The Media Fund and Joint Victory Campaign 2004 – share an office at 1120 Connecticut Avenue NW #1100, Washington DC 20036.

Alphabetical List of Shadow Party Groups:

Air America Radio

America Coming Together (ACT)

America Votes

American Constitution Society (ACS)

American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers  (AFT)

Anshell Media

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)

Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)

Band of Progressives

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Campaign for America’s Future (CAF)

Center for American Progress (CAP)

Campaign for a Progressive Future (CPF)

Clean Water Action

Communication Workers of America (CWA)

The Constitution Project (TCP)


Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund (DWAF)

Democracy for America (DFA)

Democratic Governors Associations (DGA)

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC)

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)

Dog Eat Dog Films

EMILY’s List

Environment 2004

Gore/Lieberman Recount Committee

Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union (HEREIU)

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Joint Victory Campaign 2004 (JVC)

Laborers International Union of North American (LIUNA)

League of Conservation Voters (LCV)

New Democrat Network (NDN)

The Media Fund (TMF)

Media Matters for America

The Million Mom March (MMM)

Moving America Forward (MAF)

Music for America

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Education Association (NEA)

National Grassroots Alliance (NGA)

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)

National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)

New American Optimists (NAO)

New Democrat Network (NDN)

Partnership for America’s Families (PAF)

People for the American Way (PFAW)

Phoenix Group

Planned Parenthood

Pro Choice Vote

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Sierra Club

The Thunder Road Group (TRG)

United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCWU)

United Progressive Alliance (UPA)


Vagina Votes

Voices for Working Families (VWF)

Vote for Change

Young Voter Alliance (YVA)

21st Century Democrats

Part 4 – Finances

What is a Section 527 committee and why does the Shadow Party use them so extensively for fundraising? The answer is that Section 527 committees are private, non-profit groups, which are less regulated and require less disclosure than other types of non-profit groups engaged in electioneering.

They need not register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as “political organizations.” Consequently, they need not observe the FEC’s strict limits on political contributions. The 527 committees may collect as much as money as they like, with no limits on how much they may receive from individuals or corporations.

While 527 committees are now required to report their donors to the Internal Revenue Service, the information often takes months to appear on the IRS Web site and is often incomplete or erroneous. The IRS is simply not as well-equipped as the FEC to monitor compliance to election laws.

Soft Money vs. Hard Money

Section 527 groups are used for raising “soft money.” This term came into being during the 1980s, as political parties sought ways to circumvent the restrictions placed upon them by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA).

Under FECA, any group engaged in raising and spending money for political campaigns had to register with the Federal Election Commission as a “political organization.” FECA placed strict caps on the contributions they were allowed to collect. No donor could give more than $1,000 per year to any particular candidate, nor more than $5,000 per year to any particular political action committee (PAC).

These highly-regulated contributions came to be known as “hard money.”

Soft money came into being as a result of a footnote in the Supreme Court’s 1976 Buckley vs. Valeo decision. That footnote suggested that FECA regulation applied only to groups engaged in “express advocacy” of political candidates. Political operatives took this to mean that unless they uttered the so-called “magic  words” (e.g. “Vote  for Bush!”) they were not engaged in “express advocacy” and were not bound by FECA’s rules governing hard money collection.

Political operatives began raising money above and beyond FECA’s hard money limits, arguing that they did not intend to use the money for “express advocacy,” but rather for “voter education,” “issue-oriented”political advertising, and other such nebulous enterprises.

Buckley vs. Valeo had created a giant loophole for circumventing FECA. As long as you refrained from publishing or broadcasting messages containing the “magic words,” you could campaign as hard as you liked and collect as much money as you liked, without regard for FEC regulations.

Money raised under these circumstances came to be called “soft money.” Soft money collection exploded during the 1990s, as Bill and Hillary Clinton honed soft money solicitation into something akin to a science.

The McCain-Feingold Act

Passed on March 27, 2002, the McCain-Feingold Act forbade political parties from collecting soft money. To take some of the sting out of the soft-money prohibition, it raised the limit on individual hard-money contributions from $1,000 per candidate each year to $2,000.

However, McCain-Feingold failed to address the issue of Section 527 “stealth PACs.” It did not explicitly forbid private 527s from raising soft money for electioneering purposes.

This left political operatives in a quandary. Could they or couldn’t they continue to raise soft money through private 527 non-profit groups? No one was sure. But the Democrats took the lead in forging ahead, despite the legal risks. Democrats reasoned that as long as the operators of 527 groups refrained from coordinating their activities directly with the candidates or political parties, and refrained from uttering the “magic words,” they could raise as much money as they wanted through 527s.

Republicans disagreed. They charged that the Shadow Party was a criminal enterprise, whose activities were akin to money laundering. However, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) declined to rule on the matter until after the 2004 election.

The Republicans were left with no choice but to try to play catch-up. Republicans began building their own 527 network. But the Democrats had the jump on them. It was the Democrats – and George Soros in particular – who had been pushing McCain-Feingold for years. They knew its loopholes and weaknesses intimately, and were ready to exploit them the moment the law was passed.

Major Individual Donors to Democrat 527 Committees

The chart below shows the total amount of money contributed by large individual donors – that is, those who have given $400,000 or more – to Democrat 527 committees from August 2000 to August 2004. Data is from the Center for Public Integrity.

To see how much money each donor gave to particular 527 groups, click the “Specific Contributions” link beneath each name.

Donor                                      Total Contributions

Lewis, Peter B.                                            $14,175,000

Soros, George and Susan W.             $13,120,000

Fonda, Jane                                                    $13,085,750

Bing, Stephen L.                                             $9,869,014

Harris IV, John A.                                   $4,091,500

Messinger, Alida R.                                  $3,571,000

Rappaport, Andrew S. & Deb                 $2,489,000

Hunting, John R.                                            $1,944,000

Kirsch, Steven T.                                            $1,845,000

Varis, Agnes                                           $1,790,844

Gund, Louise L.                                             $1,728,600

Buttenwieser, Peter L.                                   $1,663,535

Cullman, Lewis B. & Dorothy                      $1,650,000

Abraham, S. Daniel & Ewa                     $1,445,000

Eychaner, Fred                                        $1,370,000

Buell, Susie Tompkins                               $1,133,650

Carsey, Marcia L.                                           $1,075,000

Earhart, Ann Getty                                       $1,000,000

Glaser, Robert D.                                           $1,000,000

Lewis, Dan                                                     $1,000,000

Rosenthal, Richard                                   $1,000,000

Sandler, Herb & Marion                                 $954,050

Top Democrat Fundraising Organizations

Ranked by the Amount of Money Raised and Spent Through Their Respective 527 Committees, as of July 2004

Click link at bottom of each entry for amount raised and spent. (Data courtesy Center for Public Integrity)

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Victory Campaign 2004

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Democratic Governors Association (DGA)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

The Media Fund (TMF)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

America Coming Together (ACT)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

EMILY’s List

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Pro Choice Vote

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

New Democrat Network (NDN)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Sierra Club

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Planned Parenthood

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Laborers International Union of North American (LIUNA)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

National Education Association (NEA)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union  (HEREIU)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCWU)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

New American Optimists

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Sheet Metal Workers International Assocation (SMWIA)

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Democratic National Committee

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Gore/Lieberman Recount Committee

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Campaign for a Progressive Future

Money raised and spent through 527 committees


Money raised and spent through 527 committees

League of Conservation Voters, Inc.

Money raised and spent through 527 committees

Part 5 – Ideology

When Bill and Hillary Clinton first occupied the White House in 1993, the media celebrated the symbolic transfer of power from the World War II generation – exemplified by the highly-decorated combat airman George Herbert Walker Bush – to the baby boom generation, which the Clintons epitomized.

In truth, the comparison was less than half correct. Baby boomers had fought and died as bravely as their fathers had done. More than three million served in Vietnam – about two-thirds of that number voluntarily. Over 58,000 died on its battlefields.

The Clintons represented only a part of the baby boom – the draft-dodgers, anti-war activists and New Left radicals. Theirs, however, was that portion of the 1960s generation on which the media chose to shine its spotlight. And theirs is the portion that strives, to this day, to lead Americans down the discredited paths of socialism and other “progressive” creeds.

They are the Shadow Party.

The New Left Returns

The New Left never died. It merely changed its tactics.

The Shadow Party replicates with eerie faithfulness the Dionysian counterculture of the 1960s, with its use of rock concert fundraisers; its advocacy of marijuana legalization; its deployment of gutter language as a weapon of protest; its resort to organized street violence; and its hysterical jeremiads against George Bush and the War on Terror.

More importantly, however, it commands a power that the youthful rebels of the 1960s never wielded. Aging veterans of the New Left have spent thirty-five years infiltrating U.S. institutions at every level, acquiring influential positions in government, finance, academia, the bar, organized labor, medicine, and even in police departments, the armed forces and the intelligence community.

The Shadow Party is the ultimate instrument of the New Left’s drive for power. As the baby boomers ripen into middle age, it represents their last, best hope to achieve the revolution for which they have yearned all their lives.

Vietnam Revisited

An uncanny number of Shadow Party leaders played direct roles in the New Left movement of the 1960s. Many bear a heavy share of personal responsibility for the military catastrophe in Vietnam.

Jane Fonda, for example, has been the third-largest financial contributor to the Shadow Party in 2004. Few Vietnam veterans will ever forget “Hanoi Jane’s” propaganda tours of North Vietnam, or her radio broadcasts during which she denounced U.S. troops as war criminals and called on GIs to defect.

Democrat candidate John Kerry has a similar reputation among veterans. His 1971 testimony before the Fullbright Committee, during which he accused U.S. troops of systematic torture, massacres and other war crimes, enabled North Vietnamese jailers, propagandists and interrogators to justify the real tortures they inflicted on U.S. prisoners.

Camelot Betrayed

Perhaps no living American carries a heavier burden of personal responsibility for the Vietnam disaster than John Kerry’s mentor and political sponsor, Senator Edward Moore Kennedy.

Now in his seventies, Kennedy is preparing to pass the torch of the Democrat Party to his baby boom successors. But that torch represents something far different today than it did on January 20, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy declared in his inaugural address:

“[T]he same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. …

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans …

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Today, Edward Kennedy champions the very belief that his brother denounced – that “the rights of man come…from the generosity of the state.” Instead of calling on Americans to “support any friend” and “oppose any foe,” Ted Kennedy works daily to undermine America’s war effort, with speeches as strident as any that emanated from the New Left during the Vietnam era.

“Before the war, week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie,” Kennedy roared from the Senate floor on October 16, 2003. “Iraq was not a breeding ground for terrorism. Our invasion has made it one.”

In the same speech, Kennedy thundered, “The trumped-up reasons for going to war have collapsed…[T]he president’s war is revealed as mindless, needless, senseless and reckless.”

The invasion of Iraq “could well become one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy,” Kennedy charged in a January 14, 2004 speech before a gathering sponsored by Hillary Clinton’s think tank, the Center for American Progress.

And finally, Kennedy declared in an April 5, 2004 speech at the Brookings Institution:

“This president has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon. He has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people. … He’s the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam, and this country needs a new president.”

In fact, it is Kennedy, not President Bush, who seems determined to treat America to a repeat of the Vietnam catastrophe. And he is just the man to do it.

How Kennedy Lost the War in Vietnam

Leftwing historians have carefully insulated Ted Kennedy from the taint of Vietnam. “His name hardly appears in most histories of the Vietnam War,” writes Laurence Leamer in Sons of Camelot, “but the work he did… may have had as much impact on changing public opinion as any of the addresses given by his brother [Robert F. Kennedy] or other antiwar senators.”

Indeed, as the Vietnam War neared its end, Ted Kennedy’s activities undermined U.S. strategy in ways far more concrete than the impotent posturing of such prominent Senate doves as George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy.

Historians have tried hard to conceal the glee with which America’s enemies overseas greeted Nixon’s downfall. Had Nixon remained in power, South Vietnam might well have retained its freedom.

Nixon had vowed to re-deploy US troops in Vietnam if the Communists broke their treaty. His threat was credible. Nixon had invaded Cambodia, bombed Hanoi and mined Haiphong in the face of fierce protests at home and abroad. The Communists feared him, because they knew he would act.

The threat of U.S. intervention had kept Taiwan and South Korea free for decades, under circumstances very like those of Vietnam. Nixon’s peace plan could have worked. But Ted Kennedy made sure that Nixon had no opportunity to keep his promise to the Vietnamese.

By the time General Giap’s tanks came rolling into Saigon in 1975, Nixon was gone.

Watergate  Mastermind

It is ironic, in hindsight, that Kennedy skewered Nixon for precisely the sorts of illegal harassment and surveillance that his brothers Jack and Bobby had routinely inflicted on their political foes. As America’s uncrowned royal family, the Kennedys could get away with such abuses. Nixon could not.

Ted Kennedy brought all the power of his family’s political machine to bear in ousting Richard Nixon. He personally wrote the “Special Prosecutor” law which doomed Nixon to an open-ended witch hunt, without budget limitations, then strong-armed Nixon’s Attorney General Elliot Richardson into appointing Kennedy loyalist Archibald Cox as America’s first Special Prosecutor.

Kennedy conspired with Cox to stack the Watergate investigation with hundreds of New Left zealots and Kennedy family retainers. No fewer than eight of Cox’s eleven special counsels were Kennedy operatives who had served in the JFK administration.

Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974 snuffed out the last light of hope for the beleaguered people of Southeast Asia.

Between 1973 and 1974, Kennedy pushed through a series of bills that cut U.S. funding to South Vietnam by 80 percent. In so doing, he doomed Vietnam and Cambodia to years of Communist tyranny and genocide. Two-and-a-half million Indochinese were slaughtered by the Communists in the three years that followed.

With ample supplies and funding, it is possible that the South Vietnamese and Cambodians could have held out – with no need for U.S. troops. But once Kennedy cut their funding, they fell like wheat before the Communist scythe.

Kennedy’s Disciples

The movers and shakers of today’s Shadow Party learned their craft at Kennedy’s knee. Some – like John Kerry – learned it directly from the Master himself. Kerry worked on Ted Kennedy’s 1962 Senate campaign. A Kennedy speechwriter – Adam Walinsky – helped Kerry prepare his infamous 1971 testimony to the Fullbright Committee, in which he denounced U.S. troops as war criminals.

Others, less prominent than Kerry, followed the Master’s example from afar. But in one way or another, virtually every baby boomer in the Shadow Party arose from the caldron of New Left activism that Kennedy had stirred.

Even as the last American troops were pulling out of Vietnam, Bill Clinton and Harold Ickes worked behind the scenes to cut financial aid to our allies in South Vietnam and Cambodia. Clinton first met Ickes in 1970 when they worked together on Project Pursestrings – a grassroots lobbying effort to push through the Hatfield-McGovern Amendment, which called for pulling the plug on U.S. funding of anti-Communist forces in southeast Asia.

In 1973, the House Judiciary Committee invited one Hillary Rodham to join its team of investigators seeking causes to impeach Richard Nixon. The 26-year-old attorney’s radical, antiwar activism had caught their attention. Hers was just the sort of crusading spirit they needed for the Nixon probe.

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