In 1996 Lieberman, Breaux, and Simon Rosenberg founded the New Democrat Network political action committee. “Our role is to add political muscle,” says Rosenberg. In the 1997-1998 reporting period, its first full cycle, NDN raised $1.4 million directly, and another $1.2 million in so-called “bundled” contributions, gathered at fundraisers for individual candidates and funneled through NDN. In the 1999-2000 period, NDN more than doubled its take, raising $4 million directly and bundling $1.45 million more, plus $450,000 for GoreLieberman. Nearly $2 million of NDN’s take in the last cycle came in large, unregulated soft-money chunks from companies such as Aetna, AT&T, and Microsoft and from trade groups such as the Securities Industry Association, who helped sponsor a $1.2-million fundraiser honoring Lieberman on February 13.
NDN’s brochures sound like investment prospectuses. “NDN acts as a political venture capital fund to create a new generation of elected officials,” says the PAC. “NDN provides the political intelligence you need to make well-informed decisions on how to spend your political capital. Just like an investment advisor, NDN exhaustively vets candidates and endorses only those who meet our narrowly defined criteria.”
With three full-time fundraisers plus consultants in New York and Los Angeles, NDN runs a prolific schedule, holding more than 100 events last year. Most of them are typical Washington, D.C., money events, with the usual cast of characters from PACs and lobbying houses; a smaller number are held around the country. NDN also holds some large-scale happenings: Last year, its annual legislative retreat was held at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where members of the congressional New Democrat caucuses mingled with wealthy contributors from the private sector. Even more ambitious was its annual retreat in June, a three-day gathering spread out all over the San Francisco Bay Area, at which no less than 23 House and Senate Democrats met with executives who paid $1,000 each for the event, which was cosponsored with TechNet.
To many up-and-coming politicians, NDN’s events are heaven-sent forums at which they can strut their stuff and ring up contributors. Case in point: Tom Carper, the newly elected senator from Delaware. Last year, NDN raised $55,000 for Carper’s Senate race. But it provided an intangible benefit as well. “He’s a believer,” says Rosenberg. “In addition to all the support we gave him, he’d come to a lot of our other fundraisers, and he was able to meet a lot of new people and develop new contacts. That’s one of the reasons why so many elected officials come to our events.” For politicians like Carper, NDN is a pipeline for campaign contributions. For donors, NDN provides precertification that none of the politicians are noisy populists. “The candidates are validated to people in the room as New Democrats,” says Rosenberg.
To ensure that liberals don’t slip through the cracks, NDN requires each politician who seeks entree to its largesse and contacts to fill out a questionnaire that asks his or her views on trade, economics, education, welfare reform, and other issues. The questions are detailed, forcing candidates to state clearly whether or not they support views associated with the New Democrat Coalition, and it concludes by asking, “Will you join the NDC when you come to Congress?” Next, Rosenberg interviews each candidate, and then NDN determines which candidacies are viable before providing financial support.
The group has a goal of raising $200 million — a sum that would inevitably come in part at the expense of more traditional Democratic groups, although alliance officials say donors have committed to maintaining past contribution levels.
The Democracy Alliance will act as a financial clearing house. Its staff members and board of directors will develop a lineup of established and proposed groups that they believe will develop and promote ideas on the left. To fulfill their million-dollar pledge, each partner must agree to give $200,000 or more a year for at least five years to alliance-endorsed groups.
The shift of big money givers to the alliance poses a threat to the survival of such pro-Democratic independent groups as America Coming Together and the Media Fund. These two groups depended on many of the same donors to raise $196.7 million in 2003 and 2004. ACT recently announced that it is closing state offices and laying off most staff members. Democratic sources said its long-term survival is in doubt
Alliance organizers said they are seeking to avoid involvement in the ideological disputes that have plagued Democrats in recent years. But it may prove difficult to avoid them when the list of organizations eligible for contributions is drafted.
Rosenberg is now using his tried and true methodology to destroy the Democratic party and branching out from pimping politicians to pimping “liberal and progressive organizations”.
Of course to be eligible to become Rosenbergs whore he makes it very clear that you have to give up progressive and liberal ideologies… just like he did to politicians who wanted funding. Only organizations who refuse the Democratic Platform infavor of Corporatism need apply.
Karl Rove would be proud of Rosenberg’s Orwellian reframe turning “Corporations” into “Rich Liberals”.