Non-profit

Demos

Small logo for Demos, U.S. Think Tank (link)
Website:

www.demos.org

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-4105066

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $6,958,039
Expenses: $10,273,673
Assets: $13,388,996

Type:

Left-Wing Advocacy Group

President:

K. Sabeel Rahman

Demos (formally Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action) is a nonprofit, New York City-based left-wing public policy advocacy group founded in 2000 that favors advocates a staunchly liberal agenda.[1] Demos has close ties to the wing of the Democratic Party associated with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and the left-wing progressive movement, advocating a far-left agenda.[2]

The organization receives substantial funding from labor unions and progressive foundations. It is led by K. Sabeel Rahman, a former fellow at the left-leaning New America Foundation. In 2018, Rahman replaced Heather McGhee, a liberal political operative who formerly worked for the 2008 presidential campaign of North Carolina Democrat John Edwards.

Founding and History

Several liberal policy activists joined forces back in 1999 to form Demos, including David Callahan, a fellow at the Century Foundation; Charles Halpern, president of the Nathan Cummings Foundation; Rob Fersh, now the president of Convergence Center for Policy Revolution; Stephen Heintz, a vice president at the EastWest Institute; Sara Horowitz, the founder of Working Today and the Freelancers Union; Arnie Miller of the executive search firm Isaacson Miller; former U.S. Representative David Skaggs (D-Colorado); and Clinton administration State Department official Linda Tarr-Whelan.[3]

Heintz became the first president of Demos in March 2000, but left just a year later to become president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Miles Rapoport succeeded Heintz. A former Connecticut state legislator and secretary of state, Rapoport has long history in progressive politics. He was part of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s. He was also director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group and helped to establish the Campaign for America’s Future.[4]

From 2010 to 2012, Demos partnered with the American Prospect, a liberal news magazine and opinion journal.[5]

Political Activism

Demos advocates for substantial left-wing changes to the sociopolitical system in the United States. The organization emphasizes three areas of commitment: voting rights expansion, a hybrid environmentalist-left agenda it calls “pathways to ensure a diverse, expanded middle class in a new, sustainable economy,” and advocacy for communitarianism and a liberal interpretation of racial equality.[6]

In practice, these commitments cover left-wing boilerplate. Amid the debates surrounding the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (known popularly as the “debt commission”) in 2010, Demos and aligned groups released a plan that would raise taxes, steeply cut the military, and raise spending on progressive priorities.[7] In debates over healthcare reform in 2017, Demos proposed an expansion of Medicare to children, with the possibility of government-controlled “Medicare-for-all” left possible.[8]

Demos has close ties to the wing of the progressive movement and Democratic Party led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren’s daughter serves as Demos board chair, and the organization’s blog hailed Warren’s leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the launch of her U.S. Senate campaign in 2011.[9]

Trump Administration

Demos opposed President Donald Trump’s nominations and appointments to federal agencies. [10] In 2017, then-Demos president Heather McGhee testified in opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, citing his support of the Court’s prevailing jurisprudence on First Amendment issues as grounds to reject the nomination.[11]

Starbucks “Racial Bias Training”

In July 2018, Heather McGhee of Demos and Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund served as curriculum advisers for coffee chain Starbucks’ racial-bias training. They also released a separate report outlining suggestions for how Starbucks could achieve a “full-scale racial equity overhaul.”[12]

2019 House Democrats Issues Conference

Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos, participated in a discussion titled “Uniting Working Men and Women Behind a Democratic Agenda” during the 2019 House Democrats Issues Conference which took place in Washington D.C. and Leesburg, VA in April 2019. He was joined by Dorian Warren, president of Center for Community Change, a left-of-center nonprofit. [13]

Leadership

President

K. Sabeel Rahman replaced Heather McGee as the president of Demos in 2018. Rahman previously served as a fellow at New America Foundation, a progressive advocacy organization, and a fellow at Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning anti-free-market organization that has close ties to Democracy Alliance, a group of left-leaning billionaires and donor organizations. Rahman also worked at the Brennan Center for Justice, a left-leaning think tank with links to Tides Foundation, Proteus Fund, and other center-of-left donor organizations. [14] [15] [16]

Former Demos president Heather McGhee left her position in 2018. She now works as an analyst for NBC News. McGhee previously served as the deputy policy director for the 2008 presidential campaign of former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC), a controversial figure who also served as then-Sen. John Kerry’s running mate on the 2004 Democratic presidential ticket. [17]

Vice President

Brenda Wright, the vice president of legal strategies, is a former managing attorney for the National Voting Rights Institute in Boston. She was also the director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization that frequently partners with Demos on electoral policy issues.[18]

Board of Directors

Demos’s board chair is Amelia Warren Tyagi, a management consultant better known as the daughter of arch-liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Tyagi co-authored her mother’s book The Two-Income Trap and was added to the Demos board in 2006.[19]

Prominent board members include Van Jones who was a special advisor for green jobs, enterprise and innovation at President Obama’s White House Council on Environmental Quality, a position popularly known as “green jobs czar.” Jones was ousted when it was revealed that he put his name to a 9/11 “truther” conspiracy petition that embarrassed the White House enough to oust Jones from the administration.[20]

Other current board members include Gina Glantz, who was a founding member of America Votes, America Coming Together, and the New Politics Institute. She also worked on the Presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale in 1984, Bill Bradley in 2000, and Howard Dean in 2004. Glantz has also worked for the Service Employees International Union.[21]

Among Demos’s former board members is former President Barack Obama.[22]

Funding

Demos has refused to make public its donors and has been classified as a “dark money group” by the Center for Public Integrity. In 2014, the organization’s tax forms showed that it obtained $7 million of funds, half of which came from only seven contributors that ranged between $250,000 to $1.425 million. In the same year, $3 million was given towards salaries and wages including then-President Heather McGhee’s salary of $240,000. [23]

Demos has been associated with the progressive donor consortium Democracy Alliance, which lists Demos as a “recommended organization.”[24] The Democracy Alliance also listed Demos as part of its “2020 Vision Investment Portfolio.”[25]

Demos draws considerable financial support from a number of left-leaning foundations. Those foundations include the Tides Foundation ($1,246,469 since 2002); Ford Foundation ($1 million since 2000); W.K. Kellogg Foundation ($470,000 since 2008); Surdna Foundation ($370,000 since 2010); Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($268,000 since 2007); Rockefeller Family Fund ($190,000 since 2002); Nathan Cummings Foundation ($180,000 since 2009); Arca Foundation ($154,050 since 2010); and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($150,000 since 2005). The relatively more centrist Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also provided support ($850,000 since 2009).[26]

Demos had a $7.8 million budget in 2012, up from $7.6 million in 2011 and $7.2 million in 2010, according to its publicly available IRS filings. In 2012 Demos had 76 employees.[27]

Demos has received substantial contributions from labor unions, including $75,000 in 2015 from the Service Employees International Union.[28] Other unions contributing to Demos include the United Auto Workers; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the Communications Workers of America; the United Steelworkers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the United Food and Commercial Workers.[29]

References

  1. Discover the Networks. Accessed February 05, 2017. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=7690. ^
  2. Howley, Patrick. “The Warren Tribe.” Washington Free Beacon. May 16, 2012. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/national-security/the-warren-tribe/. ^
  3. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  4. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  5. “About Demos.” Demos. Accessed March 28, 2017. http://www.demos.org/about-demos. ^
  6. “About Demos.” About Demos | Demos. Accessed February 06, 2017. http://www.demos.org/about-demos. ^
  7. Calmes, Jackie. “Liberal Groups to Propose Routes to Smaller Deficit.” The New York Times. November 28, 2010. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/us/politics/29fiscal.html. ^
  8. Jones, Sarah. “How Trumpcare’s Failure Sets the Stage for Single-Payer.” New Republic. March 28, 2017. Accessed April 04, 2017. https://newrepublic.com/article/141651/trumpcares-failure-sets-stage-single-payer. ^
  9. Howley, Patrick. “The Warren Tribe.” Washington Free Beacon. May 16, 2012. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/national-security/the-warren-tribe/. ^
  10. “Press Releases.” Press Releases | Demos. Accessed February 06, 2017. http://www.demos.org/press-releases. ^
  11. Williams, Joseph P. “Off-Stage Drama Marks Final Day of Gorsuch Hearing.” US News. March 23, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2017. https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-03-23/final-day-of-neil-gorsuch-confirmation-hearing-marked-by-off-stage-drama. ^
  12. Siegel, Rachel. “Starbucks’s ‘full-scale Racial Equity Overhaul’ Will Take More than an Afternoon, outside Review Says.” The Washington Post. July 02, 2018. Accessed July 05, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/07/02/starbucks-still-needs-a-full-scale-racial-equity-overhaul-outside-review-says/?utm_term=.a492f27c0f90. ^
  13. ”2019 Issues Conference (Brochure).” House Democrats. Accessed April 11, 2019. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/2019-Issues-Conference-Agenda-House-Democrats.pdf ^
  14. “K. Sabeel Rahman.” Demos. Accessed March 08, 2019. https://www.demos.org/k-sabeel-rahman. ^
  15. “K. Sabeel Rahman.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 8, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/k-sabeel-rahman-99798b55/. ^
  16. “About K. Rabeel Rahman.” K. Sabeel Rahman. Accessed March 08, 2019. http://www.ksabeelrahman.com/about. ^
  17. “Heather C. McGhee.” Demos. Accessed March 28, 2017. http://www.demos.org/heather-c-mcghee. ^
  18. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  19. Ebbert, Stephanie. “Daughter of Elizabeth Warren claims center stage – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. August 12, 2012. Accessed April 03, 2017. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/08/11/daughter-elizabeth-warren-claims-center-stage/s92JYWy0MnZkt8ktXVvquL/story.html. ^
  20. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  21. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  22. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  23. Cameron Cawthorne. “Whitehouse (D): Dark Money Is a Problem ‘On Both Sides of the Aisle.’” Washington Free Beacon. March 7, 2019. Accessed August 6, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/politics/whitehouse-d-dark-money-is-a-problem-on-both-sides-of-the-aisle/ ^
  24. “Recommended Organizations.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://democracyalliance.org/investments/ ^
  25. Democracy Alliance. “Democracy Alliance 2020 Vision Investment Portfolio.” Washington Free Beacon. April 2015. Accessed April 4, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/DA-portfolio.pdf. ^
  26. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  27. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group.” Capital Research Center. July 3, 2014. Accessed February 06, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/article/ot/. ^
  28. Service Employees International Union, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2015, Schedule 17 ^
  29. Author’s analysis from Annual Reports of Labor Organizations (Forms LM-2) filed with the Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards. Queries conducted March 28, 2017. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Amy Hanauer
    Board Vice-Chair
  2. Janet Shenk
    Board Member
  3. Jodeen Olguin-Tayler
    Vice President, Policy and Strategic Partnerships
  4. Tamara Draut
    Vice President of Policy & Research
  5. Wally Adeyemo
    Board Member
  6. Sara Horowitz
    Co-Founder
  7. Van Jones
    Trustee
  8. Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman
    Director of Partnerships
  9. James Gustave Speth
    Senior Fellow
  10. Sean McElwee
    Policy Analyst
  11. Heather McGhee
    Former President
  12. Amelia Warren Tyagi
    Trustee Emeritus (Former Chairman)

Donor Organizations

  1. Aaron and Martha Schecter Private Foundation (SHIFT) (Non-profit)
  2. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) (Labor Union)
  3. Amalgamated Charitable Foundation (Non-profit)
  4. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) (Labor Union)
  5. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) (Labor Union)
  6. Annie E. Casey Foundation (Non-profit)
  7. Arca Foundation (Non-profit)
  8. Benjamin Fund (Non-profit)
  9. Chang K. Park Foundation (Non-profit)
  10. Communications Workers of America (CWA) (Labor Union)
  11. Compton Foundation (Non-profit)
  12. Craigslist Charitable Fund (Non-profit)
  13. CrossCurrents Foundation (Non-profit)
  14. Democracy Alliance (DA) (Other Group)
  15. Democracy Fund (Non-profit)
  16. Education Minnesota (Labor Union)
  17. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
  18. International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) (Labor Union)
  19. JEHT Foundation (Non-profit)
  20. Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation (Non-profit)
  21. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Non-profit)
  22. Katie McGrath and J. J. Abrams Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  23. Lebowitz-Aberly Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  24. Leonard & Sophie Davis Fund (Non-profit)
  25. Libra Foundation (Non-profit)
  26. Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund (Non-profit)
  27. Lumina Foundation for Education, Inc. (Non-profit)
  28. Moriah Fund (Non-profit)
  29. Open Society Foundations (OSF) (Non-profit)
  30. Overbrook Foundation (Non-profit)
  31. Piper Fund (Non-profit)
  32. Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Non-profit)
  33. Rockefeller Family Fund (Non-profit)
  34. Scherman Foundation (Non-profit)
  35. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (Labor Union)
  36. Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation (Non-profit)
  37. Surdna Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Tides Foundation (Non-profit)
  39. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) (Labor Union)
  40. United Steelworkers (USW) (Labor Union)
  41. W. K. Kellogg Foundation (Non-profit)
  42. Wellspring Philanthropic Fund (Non-profit)
  43. Wyss Foundation (Non-profit)

Supported Movements

  1. Green New Deal (GND)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2001

  • 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 Jun Form 990 $6,958,039 $10,273,673 $13,388,996 $1,677,151 N $6,912,879 $128,520 $7,545 $1,888,309
    2016 Jun Form 990 $19,727,319 $8,752,900 $15,644,606 $616,710 N $19,523,725 $267,726 $4,821 $1,189,943 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $7,242,655 $8,687,459 $4,680,579 $627,102 N $7,130,798 $177,496 $4,973 $810,050
    2014 Jun Form 990 $8,048,607 $8,127,178 $6,009,686 $511,405 N $7,683,279 $149,666 $2,715 $509,070 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $9,708,323 $7,965,513 $7,181,918 $585,068 N $9,422,222 $0 $2,025 $278,756 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $9,973,040 $7,845,846 $5,800,863 $946,823 N $9,652,948 $0 $148 $191,250 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $7,661,334 $7,577,691 $3,226,703 $499,857 N $7,178,907 $26,400 $2,200 $163,681 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Demos

    80 BROAD STREET 4TH FLOOR
    NEW YORK, NY 10004-2258