For-profit

Democracy Partners (DP)

Website:

www.democracypartners.com

Formation:

2011

Type:

Political Consulting Firm

Founders:

Robert Creamer

Mike Lux

Offices:

Washington, D.C.

Chicago, IL

Kennebunk, ME

San Francisco, CA

Portland, OR

Jensen Beach, FL

Democracy Partners (DP) is a political consulting firm founded in 2011 by Robert Creamer, a longtime liberal campaign operative married to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) who was convicted in 2005 of bank fraud; and Mike Lux, a former Clinton White House aide. [1] [2] [3]

The firm lists 28 other partners who boast backgrounds in Democratic Party politics and liberal activism. DP partners include feminist activist Heather Booth, former USAction president Khalid Pitts, Obama administration State Department official Joel Rubin, Democratic Party operative A’shanti Gholar, and labor union political strategist Ken Grossinger. [4]

In 2016, a sting video by the center-right investigative journalist group Project Veritas caught Creamer and Scott Foval, a contractor for Democracy Partners, detailing political dirty tricks they organized including attempting to incite violence at rallies for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. [5]

Democracy Partners, Creamer, and Foval denied that they carried out any such schemes. But immediately following the release of the videos, Creamer quickly announced he was “stepping back” from his position aiding the Clinton campaign. [6] The Clinton campaign did not release a statement about Creamer’s resignation. Creamer further withdrew from work for the Democratic National Committee for the remainder of the 2016 election. [7]

Background

Democracy Partners is a liberal political consulting firm that supports Democratic Party political campaigns and issue campaigns promoting progressive policies. Democratic Party consultants Robert Creamer, a convicted felon and husband of Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Mike Lux, who formerly worked in the Bill Clinton White House, founded Democracy Partners in 2011. [8] [9] [10]

The firm offers services to Democratic candidates and liberal advocacy groups such as fundraising, get-out-the-vote efforts, opposition research, direct mail, TV and radio advertising, and in-campaign staffing and management.

The firm’s website touts advertisements it produced in support of one of President Barack Obama’s budget proposals, attacking health insurance companies as “sharks,” promoting the passage of Obamacare, opposing entitlement reforms proposed in 2011 by then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and one disparaging then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) as an out-of-touch pro golfer. [11]

Past clients for the firm include the Democratic National Committee; Organizing for Action; the Working Families Party; WikiMedia; and current and former U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). [12]

Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer is a career Democratic Party strategist and political consultant. He managed a campaign in 2003 against federal tax cuts, and successfully led another campaign in 2005 to stop a Republican-led reform of Social Security. [13] He is married to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

Conviction

In 2005, Creamer pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges for writing bad checks and not withholding taxes from employee paychecks. He was initially charged with trying to cheat nine financial institutions out of at least $2.3 million while he ran the Illinois Public Action Fund, a liberal nonprofit, in the 1990s. Federal prosecutors alleged that Creamer caused a series of bad checks and wire transfers drawn from accounts he controlled as head of the organization. He used the group’s inflated funds to pay employees and his own salary, according to the indictment. [14] He was sentenced to five months of prison and 11 months of house arrest. [15]

Around this period, Creamer wrote Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win. The book was released in 2008, in time for a strong Democratic showing at the polls when Obama won the presidency and Democrats increased their majorities in the House and Senate.[16]

Other Work

Creamer worked as an outside activist in concert with the Obama White House on the passage of Obamacare, passage of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, and in support of President Obama’s nominations to the Supreme Court. He also worked unsuccessfully with the administration to promote immigration reform to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. He was a general consultant for Americans United for Change, a left-wing advocacy group.[17]

After the 2016 election, he worked to boost the so-called “resistance” opposing President Donald Trump.[18]

Mike Lux

Before joining with Creamer to co-found Democracy Partners in 2011, Mike Lux ran his own consulting firm, Mike Lux Media, founded in 1999. Lux continues to run Lux Media. Lux’s firm represented Daily Kos, the Democracy Alliance, Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters, and MoveOn.org.[19] In 2000, he founded American Family Voices, and is the chairman of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors.

Prior to entering political consulting, Lux worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Clinton named him a special assistant to the president for public liaison in the White House, a job Lux held from 1993 through 1995. He worked closely on the failed 1994 effort by Democrats to change healthcare policy. After leaving the Clinton White House, he became senior vice president for political action at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group.

Lux has written two political books: The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be in 2009 and How to Democrat in the Age of Trump in 2018.[20]

Other Firm Partners

The firm lists a total of 28 partners as of March 2019. Many work for other political consulting groups or liberal nonprofits. [21] [22]

Ken Grossinger, is the co-founder and chairman of the CrossCurrents Foundation. Grossinger was a strategist for the AFL-CIO and for the Service Employees International Union. He is the chairman of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal judicial policy group that supports Democratic judicial nominees and opposes conservative judicial nominees. [23]

Another partner who emerged in at least two controversies in 2016 was Aaron Black, an organizing consultant to Democracy Partners. His role was rapid response to Republican candidates, disrupting rallies and trolling Republican presidential candidates, allegedly in coordination with the pro-Donald Trump news website Breitbart News. [24] He co-founded the Campaign to Unload, a gun control group that lobbies financial managers to drop firearms-related stock holdings. Black was an Occupy Wall Street organizer in 2011. [25]

Other partners include Joel Rubin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs in the Obama administration; Marilyn Katz, who helped established the New American Movement; Heather Booth, a co-founder of the Midwest Academy, which teaches political action to left-wing activists; Khalid Pitts, former president of USA Action; and Patrick Pannett, Pennsylvania communications director for the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign.

Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), joined the firm as a partner in 2013. [26] [27] However, Pelosi is not listed as a partner on the company’s website as of March 2019.

2016 Investigative Video Sting

In late 2016, the conservative advocacy group Project Veritas released a series of undercover videos showing people associated with Democracy Partners. The videos depict Democracy Partners contractor Scott Foval saying, “We’re starting anarchy here,” referencing intentional disruptions of Donald Trump campaign rallies. In another video clip, Foval says: “We have mentally ill people that we pay to do shit.” [28] [29] Foval is also recorded saying, “I mean, honestly, it’s not hard to get some of these assholes to pop off. It’s a matter of showing up, to want to get into their rally, in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt. Or ‘Trump is a Nazi,’ you know. You can message to draw them out, and draw them out to punch you.” [30]

Foval also claimed DP was a “hub” of coordination between Democratic-aligned super PACs, the DNC, and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Coordination between the three could be illegal under certain circumstances, which he seemed to acknowledge, saying, “There’s a double blind there. So, they can plausibly deny that they knew anything.” [31]

Another person identified in the video as a DNC staffer, Aaron Black, took credit for organizing violent demonstrations in Chicago that led to the cancellation of a Trump rally in 2016. Black, who reportedly also goes by Aaron Minister, said on the video, “that was all us,” regarding the Chicago protest. “None of this is supposed to come to back to us.” Black is listed as a partner by Democracy Partners, but the DNC reportedly did not have him listed on its payroll.[32]

Another video showed Creamer appearing to entertain coordinating with the Clinton campaign to disrupt Trump rallies, but being non-committal.[33]

After the videos were released, the DNC sought to distance itself from Creamer. Creamer downplayed the videos as “unprofessional and careless” and conversations with a “regional contractor for our firm,” referring to Foval. Foval was fired as the national field director for Americans United for Change. [34]

Creamer also had a group called Mobilize that was working with the DNC, when he announced he was stepping back from the 2016 campaign.

“I am unwilling to become a distraction to the important task of electing Hilary Clinton, and defeating Donald Trump in the upcoming election,” Creamer said. He also attacked James O’Keeffe as a “discredited individual behind this well-orchestrated spying scheme directed at our firm.” [35]

Creamer and Democracy Partners sued O’Keefe and Project Veritas for defamation in June 2017 over the videos. [36]

Accused of “Coordination” with Breitbart

Shortly after the Project Veritas sting, the left-leaning website Politico reported that Aaron Black of Democracy Partners coordinated with the pro-Donald Trump news website Breitbart News during the Republican Party’s 2016 primaries in order to damage the candidacy of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Politico alleged Black was “exchanging raw video and coordinating coverage” with the pro-Trump website. [37]

Politico quoted an anonymous source that said of Black: “He worked directly with Breitbart’s political team on the ground in the primary states to sabotage Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and elect Trump as nominee of [the Republican] party.” The source was further quoted saying Black “was coordinating with [Breitbart’s] top staff to rabble rouse against Rubio at rallies.” Breitbart editor Alex Marlow responded that Black reached out to the news organization. [38]

References

  1. McBride, Jessica. “Robert Creamer “Bob”: 5 Fast Facts You Need To Know.” Heavy.com. October 21, 2016. Accessed March 19, 2019. https://heavy.com/news/2016/10/robert-creamer-bob-white-house-video-barack-obama-dnc-voter-fraud-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-democracy-partner-wife/.
  2. McBride, Jessica. “Robert Creamer “Bob”: 5 Fast Facts You Need To Know.” Heavy.com. October 21, 2016. Accessed March 19, 2019. https://heavy.com/news/2016/10/robert-creamer-bob-white-house-video-barack-obama-dnc-voter-fraud-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-democracy-partner-wife/.
  3. “Mike Lux.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/mike-lux
  4. “Mike Lux.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/mike-lux
  5. Weigel, David. “Two Democratic Operatives Lose Jobs after James O’Keefe Sting.” The Washington Post. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 19, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/10/19/two-democratic-operatives-lose-jobs-after-james-okeefe-sting/?utm_term=.d5de3a8cbb9b.
  6. Daniella Diaz and Drew Griffin. “Dem operative ‘stepping back’ after video suggests group incited violence at Trump rallies.” CNN. October 18, 2016. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2016/10/18/politics/project-veritas-action-robert-creamer-donald-trump-rallies/index.html
  7. Diaz, Daniella, and Drew Griffin. “Dem Operative ‘stepping Back’ after Video Suggests Group Incited Violence at Trump Rallies.” CNN. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 19, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2016/10/18/politics/project-veritas-action-robert-creamer-donald-trump-rallies/index.html.
  8. Associated Press. “Congresswoman’s Husband Pleads Guilty to Two Felonies.” USA Today. August 31, 2005. Accessed March 19, 2019. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-08-31-congresswoman-husband_x.htm.
  9. “Mike Lux Bio.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/mike-lux
  10. Associated Press. “Congresswoman’s Husband Pleads Guilty to Two Felonies.” USA Today. August 31, 2005. Accessed March 19, 2019. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-08-31-congresswoman-husband_x.htm.
  11. Democracy Partners Media Demo. Accessed March 16, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/.
  12. Democracy Partners. Ballotpedia. Accessed March 16, 2019. https://ballotpedia.org/Democracy_Partners.
  13. “Robert Creamer.” Bio Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/robert-creamer.
  14. “Congresswoman’s Husband Pleads Guilty to Two Felonies.” Associated Press. August 31, 2005. Accessed March 16, 2019. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-08-31-congresswoman-husband_x.htm.
  15. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  16. Creamer, Robert. “How Progressives Can Deliver on the Promise of Change in 2009 — Seven Rules for Success.” HuffPost. May 25, 2011. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-progressives-can-deli_b_229305.
  17. Robert Creamer Bio. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/robert-creamer.
  18. “Robert Creamer.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/robert-creamer.
  19. “Mike Lux.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/mike-lux
  20. “Mike Lux.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/mike-luxMike Lux Bio. Democracy Partners. Accessed March 15, 2019.
  21. McCauley, Kevin. “Pelosi Joins Democracy Partners.” Press Release. April 10, 2013. Accessed March 16, 2019. https://www.odwyerpr.com/story/public/343/2013-04-10/pelosi-joins-democracy-partners.html.
  22. Cassidy, Chris. “Obamacare Contractor Hires Dem Boosters.” Boston Herald. August 8, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2019. https://www.bostonherald.com/2014/08/08/obamacare-contractor-hires-dem-boosters/.
  23. Walter, Scott. “The Dark Money That Funded ‘Dark Money.’” October 16, 2018. Accessed March 16, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-dark-money-that-funded-dark-money-1539730524.
  24. Gold, Hadas. “Breitbart Coordinated with Liberal Activist and Organizer Who Disrupted GOP Primary Campaign Events.” POLITICO. October 25, 2016. Accessed March 19, 2019. https://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/10/breitbart-liberal-activist-230255.
  25. “Aaron Black.” Democracy Partners. Accessed March 19, 2019. http://democracypartners.com/partners/aaron-black
  26. McCauley, Kevin. “Pelosi Joins Democracy Partners.” Press Release. April 10, 2013. Accessed March 16, 2019. https://www.odwyerpr.com/story/public/343/2013-04-10/pelosi-joins-democracy-partners.html.
  27. Cassidy, Chris. “Obamacare Contractor Hires Dem Boosters.” Boston Herald. August 8, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2019. https://www.bostonherald.com/2014/08/08/obamacare-contractor-hires-dem-boosters/.
  28. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  29. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  30. Dias, Daniella and Griffin, Drew. “Dem Operative ‘Stepping Back’ After Video Suggests Group Incited Violence at Trump Rallies.” CNN. October 18, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2018.  https://www.cnn.com/2016/10/18/politics/project-veritas-action-robert-creamer-donald-trump-rallies//
  31. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  32. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  33. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  34. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  35. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  36. Lawsuit. Accessed March 16, 2019. https://theintercept.com/document/2017/06/01/democracy-partners-lawsuit-james-okeefe-project-veritas/.
  37. Elliott, Phillip. “Everything We Know About the Latest James O’Keefe Video Sting.” Time. October 19, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://time.com/4536212/james-okeefe-project-veritas-video-democrats/.
  38. Gold, Hans. “Breitbart Coordinated with Liberal Activist and Organizer Who Disrupted GOP Primary Campaign Events.” Politico. October 25, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2019. https://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/10/breitbart-liberal-activist-230255.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Josie Mooney
    Political Consultant
  2. Mike Lux
    Co-Founder and Partner
  3. Robert Creamer
    Co-Founder and Partner
  4. Ken Grossinger
    Director, Impact Philanthropy Division
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