Liberal nonprofit that attacks ‘dark money’ on the right fueled by millions in secret donations for political activity

December 10, 2013 | Joe Schoffstall - 2 Comments

A liberal nonprofit that attacks “dark money groups” on the right partakes in the same activities they accuse others of doing. In fact, the nonprofit spent 40 percent of their gross receipts for political purposes in 2012, according to their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax return.

Patriot Majority USA, the largest politically active liberal nonprofit, spent a portion of 2012 vilifying the Koch brothers and their political expenditures and associations. “In 2012, Patriot Majority USA conducted a successful national campaign โ€“www.StoptheGreedAgenda.com โ€“ targeting billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson for spending hundreds of millions of dollars to advance their special interests at the expense of firefighters, police officers, children and other Americans. Last year, as well, we commissioned a national poll quantifying that a majority of Americans believe that billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson put profits before patriotism,” the website boasts. This was accompanied by a video advertisement which still remains on their home page.

The groups claims to “Advocate for comprehensive campaign finance reform that increases transparency and limits the influence of greedy special interests who abuse the process in order to buy elections….” while they do exactly that.

In 2012, Patriot Majority took in an estimated $23,013,625 as shown on their IRS tax returns. Of this, they reported spending $9.3 million on “Expenditures and grants for issue advocacy to educate voters on candidates’ views” leading up to the 2012 elections. This number is 40 percent of their expenditures last year. Reports show the nonprofit spent more than $7 million on 11 Senate or House races along with the presidential election. Other expenditures included $11.5 million on media buy, $2.1 million for direct mailings, and $1.5 million on voter registration. It is believed they maintained their tax-exempt status and donor anonymity by balancing out their political expenditures with the above mentioned nationwide Koch campaign since it was not focused on elections.

The $23 million was an explosion of dark money compared to 2011, in which the group tallied $2.8 million on the entire year.

As for those who give to the group, it is not fully known. They are a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and as such are not required to disclose that information. What is known is Patriot Majority received more than $2.2 million from unions– $1.14 million of that coming from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — and another $750,000 from a health care trade association in 2012, according to the Huffington Post. Of the $23 million the group raised in 2012, $12 million came from six secret donors who contributed $1 million or more– including one generous gift of $6 million. Donations of $500,000 or more made up $17 million of the total.

Craig Varoga, president of Patriot Majority USA, is notorious for remaining somewhat out of the spotlight — perhaps intentionally — despite having heavy insider status and power on the left. He is a longtime Democratic political operative and previously worked closely with the likes of Sen. Harry Reid (D- Nevada), Al Gore, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and Janet Napolitano.

The Secretary of the organization, Joe Householder, was Communications Director to Sen. Hillary Clinton from 2003-2004 and currently works for Purple Strategies– a bipartisan communications firm. He worked alongside Varoga on the presidential campaign of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack in 2008.

Bill Burke, Director of the organization, is also the executive director of Foundation for the Future, which is a nonprofit that represents Democrats during the redistricting process. He previously worked in the communications department of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

According to The Center for Public Integrity, the family of organizations associated with the group also include a 527, a super PAC, and political action committee which all were founded before Patriot Majority USA. However, Patriot Majority USA is the most active of them all.

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Joe Schoffstall

Joe Schoffstall is a Reporter and Editor at Capitol City Project. Previously, he worked as a Multimedia Reporter at the Media Research Center (MRCTV, CNSNews.com).

His work has been featured on numerous outlets including the Drudge Report, Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, Yahoo News, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post-- among many others.

You can contact Joe by emailing Joe@CapitolCityProject.com.
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