Non-profit

Democracy Initiative

Website:

www.dieducationfund.org/%20

Location:

Washington, DC

Tax ID:

47-3823101

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Formation:

2013

Type:

Coalition

Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 left-of-center organizations including the Brennan Center for Justice, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, Greenpeace USA, and 350.org. [1] The Initiative claims to fight “Big Money” in politics,[2] but in 2013, only taking into account a portion of the coalition’s member organizations, the members of Democracy Initiative had recorded revenue of approximately $1.69 billion. [3]

Background

Democracy Initiative is a left-of-center coalition of 75 organizations that aims to implement liberal policies, especially concerning the 2020 Census. Some notable member organizations include the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s oldest and largest environmentalist organizations; 350.org, a large environmentalist activist organization that has a presence in 188 countries; the Brennan Center for Justice, a prominent liberal legal policy think-tank and activist center; and the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in America. [4]

Democracy Initiative was created in 2013 to ensure that every person in the United States could vote, including noncitizens. [5] Democracy Initiative claims that the Trump administration’s proposed addition of a citizenship status question to the 2020 Census “threatens to undermine the count” and the representation of Americans. [6]

The coalition also has a 501(c)(3) organization called the Democracy Initiative Education Fund.

Controversy

Democracy Initiative lists three main issues that it is trying to combat: “Fighting Big Money in politics,” preserving voting rights, and “fixing” the Senate. [7]

Despite Democracy Initiative claiming to fight against “Big Money” in politics, taking into account only a portion of member organizations’ finances in 2013, coalition members had approximately $1.69 billion in reported revenue. [8] At the time, the group stated it would “target” the Chevron Corporation due to its $2.5 million contribution to a PAC backing Republican candidates for the House of Representatives in 2012, Google “for its continued membership with the generally pro-Republican U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) due to its promotion of conservative regulations. [9]

Some of Democracy Initiative’s member organizations have also donated large amounts to federal candidates during elections. Affiliates and employees of the Sierra Club, for example, contributed $349,297 to Democratic Party candidates in 2016,[10] $343,954 in 2018,[11] and $246,023 in 2020. [12]

Political Activities

Democracy Initiative executive director Wendy Fields claimed in an October 2020 press release that the coalition is “fighting back against a supersized effort at voter suppression” which she described as “phony claims about ‘election fraud,’” racism, and “fake news.” [13] The group also claims that its “Roadblocks and Remedies” report identifies solutions to alleged “roadblocks to successful voting,” including “restrictive voter ID laws,” voter suppression tactics, and delayed ballots. [14]

In another press release referencing the Trump administration’s decision to exclude illegal immigrants from the 2020 Census, Fields stated that President Donald Trump does not know “how to count,” adding that “regardless of their immigration status,” the Census must count everyone and should not exclude “people the current president doesn’t like,” referencing illegal immigrants. [15]

Fields called the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by President Trump a “sham” and claimed that President Trump’s decision to push her nomination through before the 2020 Presidential election was unfair. [16]

People

The board of directors for Democracy Initiative includes high-ranking members of multiple left-of-center member organizations.

Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause sits as president, treasurer, and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative board of directors. Tefere Gebre, the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, sits as an additional co-chair. Other board members include Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO; Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth; Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA; K. Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos; Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters; and Ray Curry, secretary-treasurer of United Auto Workers. [17]

Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 left-of-center organizations including the Brennan Center for Justice, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, Greenpeace USA, and 350.org. [18] The Initiative claims to fight “Big Money” in politics,[19] but in 2013, only taking into account a portion of the coalition’s member organizations, the members of Democracy Initiative had recorded revenue of approximately $1.69 billion. [20]

Background

Democracy Initiative is a left-of-center coalition of 75 organizations that aims to implement liberal policies, especially concerning the 2020 Census. Some notable member organizations include the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s oldest and largest environmentalist organizations; 350.org, a large environmentalist activist organization that has a presence in 188 countries; the Brennan Center for Justice, a prominent liberal legal policy think-tank and activist center; and the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in America. [21]

Democracy Initiative was created in 2013 to ensure that every person in the United States could vote, including noncitizens. [22] Democracy Initiative claims that the Trump administration’s proposed addition of a citizenship status question to the 2020 Census “threatens to undermine the count” and the representation of Americans. [23]

The coalition also has a 501(c)(3) organization called the Democracy Initiative Education Fund.

Controversy

Democracy Initiative lists three main issues that it is trying to combat: “Fighting Big Money in politics,” preserving voting rights, and “fixing” the Senate. [24]

Despite Democracy Initiative claiming to fight against “Big Money” in politics, taking into account only a portion of member organizations’ finances in 2013, coalition members had approximately $1.69 billion in reported revenue. [25] At the time, the group stated it would “target” the Chevron Corporation due to its $2.5 million contribution to a PAC backing Republican candidates for the House of Representatives in 2012, Google “for its continued membership with the generally pro-Republican U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) due to its promotion of conservative regulations. [26]

Some of Democracy Initiative’s member organizations have also donated large amounts to federal candidates during elections. Affiliates and employees of the Sierra Club, for example, contributed $349,297 to Democratic Party candidates in 2016,[27] $343,954 in 2018,[28] and $246,023 in 2020. [29]

Political Activities

Democracy Initiative executive director Wendy Fields claimed in an October 2020 press release that the coalition is “fighting back against a supersized effort at voter suppression” which she described as “phony claims about ‘election fraud,’” racism, and “fake news.” [30] The group also claims that its “Roadblocks and Remedies” report identifies solutions to alleged “roadblocks to successful voting,” including “restrictive voter ID laws,” voter suppression tactics, and delayed ballots. [31]

In another press release referencing the Trump administration’s decision to exclude illegal immigrants from the 2020 Census, Fields stated that President Donald Trump does not know “how to count,” adding that “regardless of their immigration status,” the Census must count everyone and should not exclude “people the current president doesn’t like,” referencing illegal immigrants. [32]

Fields called the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by President Trump a “sham” and claimed that President Trump’s decision to push her nomination through before the 2020 Presidential election was unfair. [33]

People

The board of directors for Democracy Initiative includes high-ranking members of multiple left-of-center member organizations.

Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause sits as president, treasurer, and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative board of directors. Tefere Gebre, the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, sits as an additional co-chair. Other board members include Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO; Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth; Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA; K. Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos; Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters; and Ray Curry, secretary-treasurer of United Auto Workers. [34]

References

  1. “Our Partners,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/our-partners. ^
  2. “Issues,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/issues. ^
  3. Mathew Continetti, “Column: What Will It Take for the Mainstream Media to Cover the Progressive Movement?,” Washington Free Beacon (Washington Free Beacon, March 26, 2014), https://freebeacon.com/columns/a-conspiracy-so-immense/. ^
  4. “Our Partners,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/our-partners. ^
  5. “About Democracy Initiative,” Democracy Initiative, August 19, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/about-democracy-initiative. ^
  6. “2020 Census,” Democracy Initiative, April 5, 2018, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/take-action/2020-census. ^
  7. “Issues,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/issues. ^
  8. Mathew Continetti, “Column: What Will It Take for the Mainstream Media to Cover the Progressive Movement?,” Washington Free Beacon (Washington Free Beacon, March 26, 2014), https://freebeacon.com/columns/a-conspiracy-so-immense/. ^
  9. Mathew Continetti, “Column: What Will It Take for the Mainstream Media to Cover the Progressive Movement?,” Washington Free Beacon (Washington Free Beacon, March 26, 2014), https://freebeacon.com/columns/a-conspiracy-so-immense/. ^
  10. “Sierra Club Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2016 Cycle,” OpenSecrets.org, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00135368. ^
  11. “Sierra Club Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2018 Cycle,” OpenSecrets.org, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00135368. ^
  12. “Sierra Club Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2020 Cycle,” OpenSecrets.org, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00135368. ^
  13. “Advisory: Can I Vote? How to Vote? When to Vote?,” Democracy Initiative, October 8, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/advisory-can-i-vote-how-vote-when-vote. ^
  14. “Advisory: Can I Vote? How to Vote? When to Vote?,” Democracy Initiative, October 8, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/advisory-can-i-vote-how-vote-when-vote. ^
  15. “Democracy Initiative on Donald Trump’s Attempt to Exclude Immigrants from the U.S. Census,” Democracy Initiative, July 24, 2020, https://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/democracy-initiative-donald-trump%E2%80%99s-attempt-exclude-immigrants-us-census. ^
  16. “Rushed, Sham Process to Seat New Justice Undermines Supreme Court and Damages Democracy,” Democracy Initiative, October 23, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/rushed-sham-process. ^
  17. “About Democracy Initiative,” Democracy Initiative, August 19, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/about-democracy-initiative. ^
  18. “Our Partners,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/our-partners. ^
  19. “Issues,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/issues. ^
  20. Mathew Continetti, “Column: What Will It Take for the Mainstream Media to Cover the Progressive Movement?,” Washington Free Beacon (Washington Free Beacon, March 26, 2014), https://freebeacon.com/columns/a-conspiracy-so-immense/. ^
  21. “Our Partners,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/our-partners. ^
  22. “About Democracy Initiative,” Democracy Initiative, August 19, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/about-democracy-initiative. ^
  23. “2020 Census,” Democracy Initiative, April 5, 2018, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/take-action/2020-census. ^
  24. “Issues,” Democracy Initiative, accessed October 27, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/issues. ^
  25. Mathew Continetti, “Column: What Will It Take for the Mainstream Media to Cover the Progressive Movement?,” Washington Free Beacon (Washington Free Beacon, March 26, 2014), https://freebeacon.com/columns/a-conspiracy-so-immense/. ^
  26. Mathew Continetti, “Column: What Will It Take for the Mainstream Media to Cover the Progressive Movement?,” Washington Free Beacon (Washington Free Beacon, March 26, 2014), https://freebeacon.com/columns/a-conspiracy-so-immense/. ^
  27. “Sierra Club Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2016 Cycle,” OpenSecrets.org, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00135368. ^
  28. “Sierra Club Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2018 Cycle,” OpenSecrets.org, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00135368. ^
  29. “Sierra Club Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2020 Cycle,” OpenSecrets.org, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00135368. ^
  30. “Advisory: Can I Vote? How to Vote? When to Vote?,” Democracy Initiative, October 8, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/advisory-can-i-vote-how-vote-when-vote. ^
  31. “Advisory: Can I Vote? How to Vote? When to Vote?,” Democracy Initiative, October 8, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/advisory-can-i-vote-how-vote-when-vote. ^
  32. “Democracy Initiative on Donald Trump’s Attempt to Exclude Immigrants from the U.S. Census,” Democracy Initiative, July 24, 2020, https://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/democracy-initiative-donald-trump%E2%80%99s-attempt-exclude-immigrants-us-census. ^
  33. “Rushed, Sham Process to Seat New Justice Undermines Supreme Court and Damages Democracy,” Democracy Initiative, October 23, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/latest-news/rushed-sham-process. ^
  34. “About Democracy Initiative,” Democracy Initiative, August 19, 2020, http://www.democracyinitiative.org/about-democracy-initiative. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Phil Radford
    Co-Founder
  2. Annie Leonard
    Former Board Member

Donor Organizations

  1. Kendeda Fund (Non-profit)
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Democracy Initiative

805 15TH ST NW STE 800
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