For-profit

Investing In US

Formation:

2016

Type:

For-profit investment fund

Investing in US is a for-profit investment fund founded by billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and former Progressive Policy Institute senior fellow Dmitri Mehlhorn. The organization invests in advocacy organizations, voter outreach groups, media outlets, electoral strategy groups, and other organizations devoted to opposing former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

According to Mehlhorn, Investing in US aims to inspire “massive voter turnout,” support supposedly nonpartisan news organizations, and defeat “white nationalist fascism.” [1] Investing in US helped to start and support many left-of-center organizations in the wake of former President Trump’s 2016 election, but the organization has also received criticism from Democratic Party insiders for using ineffective and dirty tactics. [2]

Investments

Though Investing in US does not publicize its portfolio, Dmitri Mehlhorn listed a number of the organizations into which Investing in US had made investments in December 2018. Investing in US gave money to voter outreach and mobilization organizations, including Woke Vote, the Hispanic Federation, Win Virginia, Win the Future, and Vote.org. The organization also made donations to left-of-center PACs, including Run for Something, New Politics, Forward Majority Action, and Crowdpac. Investing in US has given to candidate support groups including People’s House Project and The Arena. It has funded media groups including New Media Ventures and News for Democracy. Investing in US has also funded advocacy groups including PushBlack, Indivisible Civics, and Integrity First For America. Mehlhorn also mentioned investing in Higher Ground Labs, a for-profit technology company. [3][4]

Investing in US has invested at least $20 million in Alloy, a data exchange program, to improve the Democratic Party’s information sharing networks. Many Democratic operatives have criticized Alloy for simply duplicating the Party’s existing networks. [5]

Investing in US heavily invested in ACRONYM, the left-of-center advocacy group behind Shadow, the voting program which failed during the 2020 Democratic primaries in Iowa. [6]

Investing in US invested $15 million in MotiveAI, a technology startup which launched Versa, a social media-based news agency. In 2017, Versa was accused of spreading fake news in the Alabama special election to undermine former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R-AL). [7]

In June, 2021, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Investing in US had pledged to provide an undisclosed amount of funding to Indivisible in support of its “Truth Brigade” project, a project designed to “monitor” right-wing “disinformation”. [8]

Virginia 2017 Elections

The 2017 local Virginia elections were considered a test of President Trump’s momentum. Investing in US invested heavily in Virginia-based pro-Democratic organizations opposed to Republican efforts, including Win Virginia and Win the Future, the latter of which raised $1.3 million and was one of the highest-spending PACs in the election. Investing in US co-founder Reid Hoffman also personally spent $300,000 in contributions in the Virginia elections. [9]

Through Dmitri Mehlhorn and Win Virginia, Investing in US urged Virginia Democratic officials to focus more money on long-shot district elections. These efforts alienated many Democrats, who felt the suggested tactics were inefficient, and they chose to instead focus their expenditures on swing districts narrowly lost by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Win Virginia was also criticized for renting office space from one of its co-founders and paying over $24,000 per month to former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello (D-VA), who was also a former gubernatorial candidate. [10]

In the summer of 2017, Win Virginia asked for voter data from the Virginia Democratic Party. The party denied access due to legal and security concerns and ceased communicating with Win Virginia. [11]

Virginia Democrats had a strong showing in the 2017 elections, for which Investing in US has taken partial credit. [12]

2017 Alabama Special Election Controversy

In 2017, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) resigned to become U.S. Attorney General under then-President Trump. This triggered a special election to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy between Doug Jones (D-AL) and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore (R-AL). Moore came to national attention due to a series of controversies, including sexual misconduct allegations, his views on LGBT rights, his advocacy in support of institutionalizing Christian doctrine in the government, and his opposition to Islam. Moore was ultimately defeated by Jones. [13]

In December 2018, the left-of-center New York Times revealed that through Investing in US,[14] Reid Hoffman invested $750,000 in American Emergent Technologies (AET). AET was one of a few Democratic-aligned organizations that ran Project Birmingham, a social media-based misinformation campaign against Moore based on the methods allegedly used by the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election. The experimental campaign involved creating a fake conservative Facebook page which aimed at instigating dissent in the Republican Party to encourage write-in candidates. The campaign also attempted to portray Moore as being supported by the Russian government, linking his campaign to Russian bots. Facebook suspended five accounts after Project Birmingham was exposed. [15] [16]

Hoffman later claimed that he did not know AET was running a misinformation campaign, but he apologized for being unaware of their activities. [17]

Criticisms

Dmitri Mehlhorn has admitted that Investing in US has been criticized for a lack of effectiveness for investing too heavily in untested ideas rather than investing in solutions to well-established and understood problems within the Democratic Party. Melhorn also notes that the organization has been accused of engaging in dirty tactics to oppose Republicans, which threatens to reduce the moral supposed moral “high-ground” of the Democratic Party. Although Melhorn has stated a willingness to copy tactics used by former President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, he claimed that Investing in US did not violate any moral boundaries. [18]

References

  1. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  2. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  3. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  4. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  5. Schleifer, Theodore. “This billionaire built a big money machine to oust Trump. Why do some Democrats hate him?” Recode. September 23, 2020. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://www.vox.com/recode/21451481/linkedin-reid-hoffman-billionaire-democratic-party-tension-silicon-valley. ^
  6. Schleifer, Theodore. “This billionaire built a big money machine to oust Trump. Why do some Democrats hate him?” Recode. September 23, 2020. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://www.vox.com/recode/21451481/linkedin-reid-hoffman-billionaire-democratic-party-tension-silicon-valley. ^
  7. Schleifer, Theodore. “This billionaire built a big money machine to oust Trump. Why do some Democrats hate him?” Recode. September 23, 2020. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://www.vox.com/recode/21451481/linkedin-reid-hoffman-billionaire-democratic-party-tension-silicon-valley. ^
  8. Ross, Chuck. “New Liberal ‘Truth Brigade’ Has Ties to Billionaire Who Peddled Disinformation.” Washington Free Beacon, June 3, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/democrats/new-liberal-truth-brigade-has-ties-to-billionaire-who-peddled-disinformation/.[/note] The Free Beacon also noted that in 2017 Reid Hoffman financed a group that created fake social media accounts specifically designed to suppress conservative voter turnout in Alabama’s 2017 Senate special election and claimed that Hoffman’s funding of the project calls into questions its commitment to “police disinformation”. [note]Ross, Chuck. “New Liberal ‘Truth Brigade’ Has Ties to Billionaire Who Peddled Disinformation.” Washington Free Beacon, June 3, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/democrats/new-liberal-truth-brigade-has-ties-to-billionaire-who-peddled-disinformation/. ^
  9. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  10. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  11. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  12. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  13. Bradner, Eric. “Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s history of controversial actions.” CNN Politics. November 29, 2017. Accessed March 17, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/29/politics/roy-moore-history-of-controversies. ^
  14. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^
  15. Moss, J. Jennings. “Reid Hoffman apologizes for ‘highly disturbing’ campaign effort.” The Business Journals. December 26, 2018. Accessed March 17, 2021. https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2018/12/26/reid-hoffman-apologizes-for-highly-disturbing.html. ^
  16. Shane, Scott; Blinder, Alan. “Secret Experiment in Alabama Senate Race Imitated Russian Tactics.” New York Times. December 19, 2018. Accessed March 17, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/us/alabama-senate-roy-jones-russia.html. ^
  17. Moss, J. Jennings. “Reid Hoffman apologizes for ‘highly disturbing’ campaign effort.” The Business Journals. December 26, 2018. Accessed March 17, 2021. https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2018/12/26/reid-hoffman-apologizes-for-highly-disturbing.html. ^
  18. Melhorn, Dmitri. “Investing in Us.” Medium. December 21, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2021. https://medium.com/@DmitriMehlhorn/investing-in-us-64afe222face. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Reid Hoffman
    Co-Founder
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