Non-profit

Defend American Democracy

Website:

www.defendamericandemocracy.org

Type:

Advocacy Group

Defend American Democracy (DAD) is a left-of-center advocacy group focused on supporting efforts to impeach President Donald Trump and remove him from office. DAD spends large sums on television advertisements which target individual members of Congress. 1

The organization is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund,2 a left-of-center lobbying and advocacy group administered by Arabella Advisors, which funnels “dark money” into a network of non-profits and projects. Defend American Democracy lists itself as a project of Protect the Investigation, another Sixteen Thirty Fund project which supported Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 3

Methods

Defending American Democracy presents itself as a veterans’ group concerned with executive overreach and corruption. In mid-November 2019, the organization spent up to six-figures on television ads primarily in competitive Congressional districts to put pressure on fourteen Republican Representatives to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump. 4

The Representatives targeted were:5

While the ads ran, DAD toured veterans around the country to conduct local press events. 6

One of DAD’s largest ad buys targeted Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a moderate Republican who voted against the impeachment inquiry. DAD spent a total of $107,820 on ads targeting Fitzpatrick. 7

DAD issues regular press releases condemning Republican leadership for supporting President Trump, and reporting on organized veteran protests. 8 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke at a DAD event in Washington DC in November. 9

Op-eds supporting DAD have appeared in the New York Times,10 USA Today,11 and the Washington Post. 12

“Dark Money”

DAD operates as a conduit for the Sixteen Thirty Fund to funnel political advocacy funds with minimal transparency. However, DAD does not disclose its affiliation with the Sixteen Thirty Fund on its webpage. 13 Since DAD is not an independent organization registered as a non-profit, it does not report any financial data.

DAD lists no leadership, staff, or founding date on its webpage. 14 It’s only known staff member is spokesman Zack DiGregorio,15 a communications associate for the Hub Project, a left-leaning for-profit coalition organizing firm and a former press secretary in the House of Representatives. 16

Partner Organizations

DAD lists eight partner organizations, which are a mixture of left-of-center advocacy groups and right-of-center organizations supported by liberal mega-donors opposed to President Trump. 17

The Truman National Security Project is a left-of-center Washington DC-based think tank which promotes liberal foreign policies. 18 National Security Action is a left-of-center advocacy group run by former Obama administration staffers and leadership which focuses on opposing President Trump’s foreign policies. 19

Project Protect Democracy is a left-of-center litigation organization which opposes the policies of President Trump. 20

Republicans for the Rule of Law is an advocacy group that supports the impeachment of Donald Trump. 21 It is a project of Bill Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together, a right-of-center advocacy and incubation group opposed to President Trump that has received funding from nonprofit networks associated with Pierre Omidyar, the liberal founder of eBay. 22

Law Works is a non-partisan advocacy group consisting of former federal prosecutors who support the impeachment of President Trump. 23

Common Defense is a left-of-center veterans group opposed to President Trump, and a member of the Green New Deal Coalition. 24

Stand Up Republic is a right-of-center advocacy group founded by Evan McMullin and Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign staffer, Mindy Finn. 25 Like Defending Democracy Together, Stand Up Republic has received funding from Omidyar’s liberal funding network. 26

Protect the Investigation is also listed as a partner organization. 27

References

  1. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.
  2. “Sixteen Thirty Fund – Initial File Number: 290501.” Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6555491-Sixteen-Thirty-Fund-Incorporation-Records.html.
  3. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.
  4. “Liberal ‘dark money’ operation behind ads urging Republicans to support impeachment.” Open Secrets. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/11/liberal-dark-money-op-impeachment/.
  5. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.
  6. “Liberal ‘dark money’ operation behind ads urging Republicans to support impeachment.” Open Secrets. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/11/liberal-dark-money-op-impeachment/.
  7. “Liberal ‘dark money’ operation behind ads urging Republicans to support impeachment.” Open Secrets. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/11/liberal-dark-money-op-impeachment/.
  8. “News and Updates. Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/news-and-updates.
  9. “Pelosi Remarks at Defend American Democracy Press Event.” Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/112119.
  10. David Leonhardt. “’We Kept Our Oath.” The New York Times. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/12/opinion/veterans-trump-military.html.
  11. Alan Pitts. “Iraq veteran: We defended American democracy. Now we’re asking Congress to do the same.” USA Today. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/11/07/veterans-defended-american-democracy-now-congress-must-step-up-column/4169710002/.
  12. Colby Itkowitz. “GOP moderates refuse to defend Trump on Ukraine but won’t back impeachment.” Washington Post. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-moderate-refuses-to-defend-trump-on-ukraine-but-wont-back-impeachment/2019/12/17/49b95c86-210d-11ea-86f3-3b5019d451db_story.html.
  13. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.
  14. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.
  15. “Veterans urge Fitzpatrick to support Trump impeachment.” The Times. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.timesonline.com/news/20191119/veterans-urge-fitzpatrick-to-support-trump-impeachment.
  16. “Zack DiGregorio.” Linkedin. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/zack-digregorio-3aab54113/.
  17. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.
  18. “Ideas.” Truman Center. Accessed February 13, 2020. http://trumancenter.org/ideas/.
  19. “Who We Are.” National Security Action. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://nationalsecurityaction.org/who-we-are.
  20. “Our Democracy is in Danger.” Protect Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://protectdemocracy.org/.
  21. “The Senate has Failed.” Republicans for the Rule of Law. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.ruleoflawrepublicans.com/.
  22. Ludwig, Hayden. “Based On Tax Filings, Bill Kristol’s Been A Democrat For Years.” The Federalist, February 19, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/19/based-on-tax-filings-bill-kristols-been-a-democrat-for-years/.
  23. “About Us.” Law Works. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://lawworksaction.org/about-us/.
  24. “About Us.” Common Defense. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://commondefense.us/about/.
  25. “Stand Up Republic.” Stand Up Republic. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://standuprepublic.com/.
  26. “Stand Up Republic.” Democracy Fund Voice. Accessed March 8, 2019. Original URL: https://democracyfundvoice.org/stand-up-republic/ 
  27. “It’s Time to Put Country Over Politics.” Defend American Democracy. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.defendamericandemocracy.org/.

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