It looks like another tidbit in the daily progressive puzzle has slickly been tipped down the rabbit hole. By all appearances, Democracy In Action, Code Pink’s so-called “fundraising partner” in 2011, is MIA.
But is it?
I am referring to a 2011 article by Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft and Andrea Shea King (referenced here) that includes information about far-left “peace” organization Code Pink’s “involvement in the 2011 overthrow of the U.S. allied government of then President Hosni Mubarak.” Code Pink had issued an appeal for funding in conjunction with its “fundraising partner”, Democracy In Action.
But which Democracy In Action organization is it? There are a number of web sites that pop up with similar names.
A clue to the identity of the real Democracy In Action comes via About.com. Joanne Fritz, a contributor to About.com’s “Nonprofit Charitable Orgs” section, in an undated graph writes:
Some third party processors specialize in nonprofit credit card processing, have a centralized website that you can refer donors to, offer other services such as sending acknowledgment messages, and website pages that can be branded by your nonprofit. A branded site, however, does not mean that the donor’s credit card statement will carry the receiving nonprofit’s name. Nonprofits using third-party processors commonly include information on the acknowledgment message to the donor about what they will see on their statements.
Popular third party processors in this category include Network for Good, which charges processing fees that range from 3% for its custom service to 4.75% for its basic service. Democracy in Action works with social change nonprofits to provide credit card processing and customer relationship management. Its fees are based on nonprofit clients’ number of supporters.
So. Guess who is on the Network for Good board of directors? Danica Remy, managing director of — wait. for. it. — the ‘Big Time Money Funnel’ itself, Tides!
Danica Remy has been with Tides since 2003 and serves as Managing Director, previously overseeing the operations and governance functions across Tides Network which includes Tides Foundation, Tides Center and Tides Shared Spaces. Since 2008 she has been leading Tides Advocacy Fund.
The About.com link to Democracy In Action, an info page on its own web site, takes you to a dead end.
However, it is clear from the About.com blurb that Network for Good and Democracy In Action are not “fundraising partners” as much as they are two more clearinghouses for the anonymous redistribution of progressive funds.
Okay. Back to our search for the real DIA.
In case you have not guessed by now, like all good little progressive entities, Democracy In Action has changed since 2011 and morphed into Democracy Engine.
Wonder what Democracy Engine is all about? Short answer: Just more of the same with progressive elites at the helm.
Democracy Engine helps organizations channel funds to candidates and causes — engaging their membership to effect real change. With simple and effective online tools, Democracy Engine provides a solution for anyone who donates, manages, tracks, raises or receives financial contributions on behalf of candidates, organizations, committees or causes. What’s more, Democracy Engine’s universal platform ensures that organizations won’t have to change fundraising systems as they shift focus between state, local and national elections.
Democracy Engine integrates seamlessly with established fundraising and data management systems. Because the platform has been written with campaign finance regulations in mind, it allows organizations to focus less on internal administration and more on the business of raising money for the candidates and causes they support.
Fundraisers who use Democracy Engine can be sure that they are getting the benefits of both cutting edge technology and an experienced legal team, which together act as a reliable and time-tested partner in managing the constantly changing world of campaign finance. In short, Democracy Engine provides an easy way for organizations to raise money for their endorsed candidates and causes.
Who are the progressive elites operating Democracy Engine?
The CEO is Jonathan Zucker, former “executive director for ActBlue, the nation’s largest source of funds for Democrats.” Before that?
Zucker served as national director of operations for finance at the Democratic National Committee, where he was responsible for legal and compliance issues, vetting and data management for the DNC’s then record-breaking $100 million major-donor program in the 2004 election cycle. For more than a decade, Zucker has worked with a wide variety of progressive and Democratic organizations as a field organizer, fundraiser, administrator and attorney, including The Interfaith Alliance, Human Rights Campaign, Gill Foundation and the Democratic Leadership Council.
According to Discover the Networks, ActBlue
Inspired by the grassroots fundraising network that Howard Dean assembled during his 2004 presidential bid, ActBlue (AB) is an Internet-based political action committee (PAC) that bundles and transmits contributions which individual donors earmark for various progressive candidates, political parties, PACs, and outside spending groups. … True to its mission, the ActBlue website enables visitors to easily and quickly contribute any sum of money, with the mere click of a computer mouse, to any Democratic candidate for federal office—as well as for many state offices. Partnering in this endeavor with Salsa Labs, AB has grown into the largest fundraising platform for Democratic Party candidates in America. … In the 2012 election cycle, AB raised $148,845,935 for Democratic recipients. From 2004 through 2012, the cumulative figure was approximately $280 million.
BAM! There you have it — there’s your six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Needing more elite progressive political connections? Here they come.
The Chief Technology Officer is Erik Pennebaker, whose Democracy Engine bio states
Pennebaker brings more than 15 years of experience in systems engineering, Web hosting, computer programming, and systems and network administration to Democracy Engine. His experience with large-scale contribution processing, combined with his intimate understanding of complex data management for bundling operations, make him uniquely qualified to lead Democracy Engine’s technical development efforts.
Pennebaker’s deep commitment to progressive politics and unparalleled knowledge of Web-based fundraising systems have combined to fuel his success working on a number of groundbreaking national political campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s campaigns for Senate and president. During the 2008 election cycle, the system he created for then-Sen. Clinton was the online heart of her more than $221 million fundraising effort.
After providing Web-based fundraising support for Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, Pennebaker acted as lead developer on a contribution system that powered online donations to several 2006 Senate campaigns. He also oversaw Sen. Kerry’s multimillion dollar bundling operation for various Democratic candidates.
And he still maintains Al Gore’s national web site.
According to one source, Pennebaker has been with Democracy Engine since 2009.
Democracy Engine’s client list is the usual who’s who of progressive groups, to include the Democratic National Campaign Committee, Planned Parenthood, SEIU, and United Auto Workers. Technology companies providing support to Democracy Engine include Blue State Digital, which originated circa 2003/4 with the Howard Dean campaign, and has been long-associated with the Obama campaigns, and Salsa Labs.
According to the Wikipedia, Salsa Labs
… was co-founded by April Pedersen and Chris Lundberg. Its formation was preceded by DemocracyInAction, a nonprofit organization Pedersen and Lundberg co-founded in 2004 to make online organizing, fundraising, and advocacy tools accessible to smaller nonprofits working to advance social, political, and environmental causes. … Salsa Labs claims that it supports “over 2,000 user groups’ relationships with over 40 million supporters, members, donors, activists, and fans all around the world.”
Pedersen’s LinkedIn bio is lengthy but includes one interesting item: she worked for three months in 1997 as an intern at the pro-Communist anti-American Institute for Policy Studies.
Lundberg, Salsa Lab’s CEO, left in October 2012. Prior to co-founding Democracy In Action, in 2007 Lundberg co-founded Wired for Change, a “consulting and technology services company serving over 400 political campaigns and hundreds of progressive organizations to develop the most innovative and effective online campaigns to encourage engagement, drive message, and promote change.” In January 2013, Pedersen and Lundberg started their third venture, Frakture.
In March 2010, Mark J. Fitzgibbons reported in the American Thinker on the possibly-astroturf Coffee Party and its connections with Democracy In Action, Wired for Change, and George Soros funding:
The Coffee Party website says its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status is pending with the IRS, which must approve some, but not all, tax-exempt activist entities. Any 501(c)(4) may engage in lobbying, so contributions to them are not deductible. The contribution landing page for the Coffee Party says that it partners with Democracyinaction.org, a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning contributions to the latter are tax-deductible.
The About Page for Democracyinaction.org states that it gets funding from Open Society Institute, George Soros’s organization. Because contributions to 501(c)(3)s are tax-deductible, those funds may not be transferred to 501(c)(4)s, which are allowed to lobby.
Democracyinaction.org offers professional services the same or similar to what many for-profit companies provide and is described at Guidestar.com as follows:
DemocracyInAction is a nonprofit dedicated to leveraging the unique power of online communications for invigorating those committed to ecology, social justice and human rights. To a broad swath of these social change leaders, we provide cutting-edge e-advocacy tools for pennies on the dollar relative to the fees demanded by the private sector. In a word, we democratize e-activism, freeing practitioners to pour resources into mission and strategy.
The most recent tax return for Democracyinaction.org (its IRS Form 990) shows it gets far less in grants than it earns in program service revenue, which I believe are fees it charges to its progressive clients.
Democracyinaction.org is affiliated with for-profits Salsa Enterprise and Wired for Change. Wired for Change lists its “political organization” clients to include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and ACORN (and we thought ACORN wasn’t a political organization). Its candidate clients include Chuck Schumer and Jerry Brown.
“In other words,” Fitzgibbons noted, “these organizations are consultants playing in the big leagues.”
The no-longer-available March 2010 Coffee Party Fact Check once addressed the issue of George Soros’ involvement with the Coffee Party and Democracy In Action:
Q: Is Coffee Party USA affiliated with billionaire George Soros, the founder Soros Fund Management and Open Society Institute?
No. Democracy in Action is a vendor that licenses Internet technology for websites, including ours. Democracy in Action has received funding from Mr. Soros, but Coffee Party USA has not received any money from either the Open Society Institute or from Mr. Soros.
The integration of Salsa Labs from Democracy in Action to Democracy Engine was not without issues, however. The Democracy Engine FAQ tells the tale.
Also note that Democracy Engine appears unconnected to the Democracy in Action run by Eric Appleman.
A fall 2004 “sketch” of the John Kerry campaign bears the name of “Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action” at the bottom of the page. (Pennebaker is listed here as one of Kerry’s Internet Programmers.) Appleman launched the Democracy in Action web site on the 2000 presidential campaign in May 1998.
A 2008 disclaimer on the George Washington University web site states that
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION is not an official project of the George Washington University and any errors and interpretations are the responsibility of the author, Eric M. Appleman. Mr. Appleman graduated from GWU with a degree in political communications and has focused on analyzing presidential campaigns since then. He has a particular interest in understanding what works and what does not in presidential campaigns and in visual aspects of political communication. DEMOCRACY IN ACTION is not connected to or part of any partisan or ideological group. The site is sponsored in part by GWU’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, but receives no funding from the Institute.
However, Appleman’s LinkedIn profile states that he has run Democracy in Action continuously since 1993 (not 1998) and he plans to continue his activities for the 2016 election.
There you have it. All (hopefully) of the pieces linking Code Pink with its “fundraising partner”, Democracy In Action — now known as Democracy Engine.
Next question: Are Code Pink and Democracy Engine still “partners”? Well, silly wabbit, of course they are!
. Code Pink Donations. Check!
. Support Syrian Women and Girls!. Check!
. International Women’s Day Delegation to Gaza. Check!
Check! Check! Check!