How Taxpayers Will Heavily Subsidize Democrat Boots on the Ground This Election


By Ben Weingarten

Progressives are using legal loopholes and the power of the federal government to maximize Democrat votes in the 2024 election at taxpayers’ expense, RealClearInvestigations has found.

The methods include voter registration and mobilization campaigns by ostensibly nonpartisan charities that target Democrats using demographic data as proxies, and the Biden administration’s unprecedented demand that every federal agency “consider ways to expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process.”

A dizzying array of overwhelmingly “democracy-focused” entities with ties to the Democratic Party operating as charities and funded with hundreds of millions of dollars from major liberal “dark money” vehicles are engaged in a sprawling campaign to register the voters, deliver them the ballots, and figuratively and sometimes literally harvest the votes necessary to defeat Donald Trump.

These efforts, now buttressed by the federal government, amplify and extend what Time magazine described  as a “well-funded cabal of powerful people ranging across industries and ideologies,” who had worked behind the scenes in 2020 “to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information” to defeat Trump and other Republicans. The “shadow campaigners,” Time declared, “were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.”

Heading into 2024, “there is not a ‘shadow’ campaign,” said Mike Howell, executive director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project. “There is an overt assault on President Trump and those who wish to vote for him occurring at every level of government and with the support of all major institutions.”

By contrast, Republican Party stalwarts lament that no comparable effort exists on their side. The GOP’s turnout and messaging efforts seek to thread a difficult needle by encouraging early and absentee voting and ballot-harvesting – pandemic-era measures that Trump and supporters blame for his 2020 electoral defeat – while the party simultaneously fights the mainly blue-state laws that made the practices possible. The party’s position is further complicated by its standard-bearer’s warnings of a rigged election bigger than in 2020, which some speculate could turn off moderate swing voters.

Electioneering ‘Super-Weapons’

The IRS permits tax-exempt nonprofit groups to engage in voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives so long as they do not “refer to any candidate or political party” nor conduct their activities “in a biased manner that favors (or opposes) one or more candidates prohibited.”

These entities have become magnets for funds not only from wealthy donors, who can contribute without traditional campaign finance limits – and get a tax break to boot – but also abundantly endowed private foundations that are prohibited from engaging in partisan activities.

In recent years, dozens of progressive-oriented 501(c)(3)s, now pulling in upwards of $500 million annually, have engaged in purportedly neutral efforts to impact elections, according to Hayden Ludwig, director of Policy Research at the election integrity-focused advocacy group, Restoration of America.

In practice, critics like Ludwig argue, left-leaning charities flout the law by registering and mobilizing demographics that tend to vote disproportionately Democratic behind a veil of non-partisan democracy promotion.

During the 2020 election, for example, the Voter Participation Center solicited millions of ballot applications in swing states – many of them prefilled for respondents. This nonprofit, like its peers, is clear that it isn’t targeting just any voters, but what it and progressive activists have dubbed a “New American Majority” of “young people, people of color and unmarried women.”

Tom Lopach, a longtime Democratic Party operative and the center’s president and CEO, told RCI in a statement: “We do the work that state election officials typically do not do – seeking out underrepresented voting-eligible Americans Tom Lopach … This is difficult but necessary work that brings democracy to eligible Americans’ doorsteps.”

In 2020, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan showed how supposedly neutral efforts can have a partisan impact when they funneled some $400 million through two progressiveled but purportedly nonpartisan nonprofits into election offices across the country.

That money disproportionately went to jurisdictions that Joe Biden won in the pivotal battleground states that delivered his victory, often flowing to left-leaning nonprofits to whom election offices outsourced the administration of sometimes critical functions.

In April 2022, a primary conduit of these so-called “Zuckerbucks,” the Center for Tech and Civic Life, announced the launch of a successor to the 2020 effort – the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, a five-year $80 million program “to envision, support, and celebrate excellence in U.S. election administration.”

“The left has assembled an impressive ‘election-industrial’ complex of non-profit organizations that is constantly working towards goals like ‘promoting participation’ targeting ‘underrepresented minorities,’” said Jason Snead, executive director of the conservative Honest Elections Project. Such terms, Snead says, “are code for identifying and mobilizing liberal voters.”

Election experts view such activities as potentially decisive.

“‘Nonpartisan’ and ‘charitable’ voter registration and get-out-the-vote groups” are the Democratic Party’s “electioneering super-weapon[s],” said Parker Thayer, an analyst with the conservative-oriented Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.

‘Everybody Votes’ – But for Whom?

Of these, Thayer sees the Everybody Votes Campaign as of paramount importance.

Born of a plan “commissioned by [Hillary] Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, funded by the Democratic Party’s biggest donors, and coordinated with cut-throat Democratic consultants,” Thayer writes in an extensive analysis of the group’s efforts, “the Everybody Votes campaign [has] used the guise of civic-minded charity to selectively register millions of ‘non-white’ swing-state voters in the hopes of getting out the Democratic vote.”

It does so by funding and training over 50 community groups to register voters to close “the voter registration gap in communities of color,” which it attributes to “modern forms of Jim Crow laws,” such as voter ID requirements, the group’s executive director, Nellie Sires, said in a January 2024 interview.

From 2016-2021, the Everybody Votes Campaign, doing business as three entities, collected over $190 million from major Democratic Party donors, unions, and environmental activists. Some of the largest donors include the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; the New Venture and Hopewell Funds, managed by for-profit consulting firm Arabella Advisors; and the George Soros-funded Foundation to Promote Open Society – all 501(c)(3) public charities or private foundations forbidden from supporting “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias.”

The Everybody Votes Campaign distributed the funds to a slew of left-leaning state-based voter registration organizations largely in eight pivotal states from 2016 to 2019 – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada – and then to Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 2021.

According to Thayer’s analysis, the Everybody Votes Campaign’s voter registration push “would have provided Democrats more votes than the total margins of victory in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania,” securing Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

‘4 to 10 Times More Cost-Effective’

One notable backer of the Everybody Votes Campaign is Mind the Gap, a “Moneyball-style” Silicon Valley Democratic Super PAC founded by Stanford law professor Barbara Fried, and connected to the political activities of her convicted crypto-fraudster son, Sam Bankman-Fried.

The analytics-focused outfit prepared a confidential strategy memo leaked in advance of the 2020 election, noting that “501(c)(3) voter registration focused on underrepresented groups in the electorate” would be the “single most effective tactic for ensuring Democratic victories” – “4 to 10 times more cost-effective” on after-tax basis at “garnering additional Democratic votes” relative to alternatives like “broadcast media and digital buys.”

Mind the Gap recommended that donors contribute to three organizations: the Voter Participation Center and its sister organization, the Center for Voter Information for mail-based registration efforts, and Everybody Votes for site-based registration efforts.

The largest grant recipient, receiving $24 million during the 2016-21 period, was State Voices, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan network of 25 state-based coalitions … that collectively partner with over 1,200 organizations” consisting of “advocates, organizers, and activists … work[ing] together to fight for a healthy democracy and political power for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and all people of color (BIPOC).”

Another top recipient, raking in over $10 million, was the Voter Participation Center.

According to the Capital Research Center, the Everybody Votes Campaign would collect and spend over $50 million in connection with the 2022 midterm elections – the most recent period for which financials are available. All told, since its founding in 2015, the Campaign says, its network has registered 5.1 million voters, of whom 76% are people of color; 56% are women; and 47% are under the age of 35.

Last November, the news outlet Puck reported on a secret memo circulated by Mind the Gap regarding its plans for 2024. “Our strategy early in the 2024 presidential race will be to massively scale high-performing voter registration and mobilization programs,” the memo read. The PAC again specifically directed donors to the Everybody Votes Campaign, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Lopach, who has worked in Democratic Party politics his entire career, bristled at RCI’s questions regarding critics’ claims of a partisan bent to its work. “The presumptions baked into the questions … emailed to us are inaccurate and reveal the reporter’s own biases,” he responded, while emphasizing the organization’s targeting of “underrepresented voting-eligible Americans.”

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