Non-profit

Democracy Fund Voice

Website:

democracyfundvoice.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

46-5051755

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,500,021
Expenses: $3,321,856
Assets: $376,707

Formation:

2011 (Organized)

2014 (Incorporated)

President:

Joe Goldman

Also see Democracy Fund (Non-profit)

Democracy Fund Voice is a left-leaning lobbying and electoral advocacy group within the advocacy-philanthropy network of eBay chairman and founder Pierre Omidyar. [1] The group advocates for a number of left-of-center policy issues including Democratic Party-advantaging election administration changes and funds ostensibly right-leaning organizations that support liberal and left-of-center policies on election administration, environmentalism, and opposition to the Republican Party such as Stand Up Republic, Niskanen Center for Public Policy, and Defending Democracy Together.

It is the advocacy and lobbying arm of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Democracy Fund.

Background

Pierre Omidyar, the founder and chairman of online retail giant eBay, founded Democracy Fund Voice in 2014, at the same time he founded sister organization Democracy Fund. Democracy Fund Voice was intended to be the lobbying arm of Omidyar’s advocacy-philanthropic operation; it funds other advocacy groups as well as hires lobbyists to promote Omidyar’s preferred policies which include libertarian leaning property rights issues as well as traditional left-leaning public policy with a major focus on left-leaning election administration and voter registration policies. The organization also focuses on promoting left-leaning journalism. [2]

Relation to Other Omidyar Philanthropies

Democracy Fund Voice is one of ten separate organizations in Pierre Omidyar’s network of philanthropic organizations, known as the Omidyar Group. Other groups in the group include First Look Media, a left leaning media company to which Omidyar personally pledged over $250 million. The nonprofit is best known for publishing The Intercept, a reporting website launched by the left-wing reporters and writers who notably obtained and published leaked classified information from the U.S. National Security Agency from former government contractor Edward Snowden before he fled the United States and arrived in Russia. [3]

Another organization in the Omidyar Group is the Omidyar Network, a think tank that incubates projects and programs for Omidyar’s funding priorities, including incubating both Democracy Fund and Democracy Fund Voice in 2011 before they launched as independent sister organizations in 2014. Other organizations in the Omidyar Group include Flourishing, Hopelab, Humanity United, Imaginable Futures, and Luminate. Most of these groups act as funding organizations for various projects around environmentalism, elections, civic participation, and local projects in Omidyar’s home state of Hawaii. [4]

People

Pierre Omidyar, a founder of eBay, and his wife Pam are the sole known funders of the organization. The Omidyars have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to their group of nonprofits and funding organizations. Omidyar is worth approximately $12 billion; as of April 2020 Forbes listed him as the 36th richest American and the richest resident of Hawaii. [5]

The Omidyars are Democratic party megadonors, having contributed to the Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; they made further six-figure donations to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. [6]

The president of Democracy Fund Voice and Democracy Fund is Joe Goldman. Goldman is a seasoned Democratic organizer and operative. Prior to joining Democracy Fund, Goldman served as vice president of citizen engagement at AmericaSpeaks, where he was involved in community organizing projects across the United States, including the Unified New Orleans Planning Process following Hurricane Katrina and the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site after 9/11.Goldman has also worked in government as a community planner, including directing the Neighborhood Action Initiative for former District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams (D). [7]

Lobbying Activity

One of the main reasons for the formation of Democracy Fund Voice as a sister organization to the Democracy Fund is that Democracy Fund Voice is able to engage in state and federal lobbying without limit under IRS rules. At the federal level, Democracy Fund Voice employed the Washington, D.C. lobbying firms of Frost Brown Todd LLC and Steptoe and Johnson. Among the individuals registered to lobby for the organization is Jason Abel, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). [8]

In the 115th and 116th congresses, Democracy Fund Voice lobbied on several bills including the Safeguarding Election Infrastructure Act of 2019, The Vote By Mail Act of 2019, the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2019, the White House Ethics Transparency Act of 2019, the 2020 Judiciary Appropriations Act, and the Missed Opportunities Act of 2017. [9]

Grantmaking to Nominally Right-Leaning Organizations

Another funding priority of Democracy Fund Voice aside from left-leaning election policy is support for nominally conservative organizations and groups of former Republicans adamantly opposed to President Donald Trump and his administration. [10] It has also supported libertarian-leaning property rights groups.

In 2017, Democracy Fund Voice announced that it had made contributions of up to $550,000 to Stand Up Republic, a lobbying and advocacy group associated with former Independent Presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who ran in protest of Trump’s candidacy in 2016. According to Democracy Fund Voice’s 2018 tax returns, it granted $475,000 to Stand Up Republic in 2018. [11]

The organization is also active in supporting nominally right-leaning opponents of the Trump administration by funding advocacy groups run by former Republicans. Democracy Fund Voice granted $1.6 million in two grants to the nominally center-right group Defending Democracy Together, founded by Bill Kristol, a former conservative commentator who repudiated the Republican Party after Trump’s election. [12]

Democracy Fund Voice granted $175,000 to the Niskanen Center for Public Policy, the lobbying arm of the formerly libertarian think tank Niskanen Center. The grant was for the Center’s “open society project.” [13]

The organization also granted $160,000 to the center-right think tank R Street Institute for its American Institutions Network. [14]

References

  1. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Democracy Fund Voice. 2018. Archived here: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/02/Democracy-Fund-Voice-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  2. “Who We Are.” Democracy Fund Voice. Accessed April 10, 2020. ^
  3. Rice, Andrew. “How the Snowden leaks gave Pierre Omidyar a cause — and an enemy”. New York Magazine. November 2, 2014. Accessed April 10, 2020. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2014/10/pierre-omidyar-first-look-media.html   ^
  4. “Organizations”. Omidyar Group. Accessed April 10, 2020.  https://www.omidyargroup.com/organizations/ ^
  5. “#118 Pierre Omidyar”. Forbes.  Accessed April 10, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/profile/pierre-omidyar/#7d6d1e3166da ^
  6. Dunbar, John, Michael Beckel, and Carrie Levine. 2016. “Pierre Omidyar Gives $100,000 To New Anti-Trump Super PAC”. Center For Public Integrity. Accessed April 10, 2020. https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/04/15/19564/pierre-omidyar-gives-100000-new-anti-trump-super-pac ^
  7. “Joe Goldman” Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.  https://www.voterstudygroup.org/participants/joe-goldman ^
  8. “Democracy Fund Voice: Lobbyists” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed April 10, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/clients/lobbyists?cycle=2019&id=F212869 ^
  9. “Democracy Fund Voice: Bills” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed April 10, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/clients/bills?cycle=2019&id=F212869 ^
  10. Ludwig, Hayden. “Another NeverTrump Network Is Receiving Left-wing Cash”. Capital Research Center. March 18, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/another-nevertrump-network-is-receiving-left-wing-cash/ ^
  11. “Stand Up Republic.” Democracy Fund Voice. Accessed April 10, 2020. http://democracyfundvoice.org/stand-up-republic/ ^
  12. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Democracy Fund Voice. 2018. Schedule I. Archived here: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/02/Democracy-Fund-Voice-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  13. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Democracy Fund Voice. 2018. Schedule I. Archived here: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/02/Democracy-Fund-Voice-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  14. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Democracy Fund Voice. 2018. Schedule I. Archived here: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/02/Democracy-Fund-Voice-2018-Form-990.pdf  ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2014

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,500,021 $3,321,856 $376,707 $334,419 N $2,500,000 $0 $21 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $5,510,012 $4,741,429 $1,005,229 $141,106 N $5,510,000 $0 $12 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $500,001 $772,979 $123,760 $28,220 N $500,000 $0 $1 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $500,000 $131,482 $376,622 $8,104 N $500,000 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Democracy Fund Voice

    1200 17TH ST NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-3006