Non-profit

Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)

Website:

luchaaz.org/

Location:

PHOENIX, AZ

Tax ID:

27-1398645

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $328,218
Expenses: $383,346
Assets: $25,608

Most Recent Filing:

2018 Form 990

Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) is a left-of-center political advocacy organization, which mainly advocates and lobbies for increases to the Arizona minimum wage and legislation that restricts and regulates the flexibility of labor for Arizona employers. The group also campaigns for liberal expansionist immigration policy. LUCHA has also expressed support for the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) and has tweeted using the hashtag “#ChingaLaMigra” which, loosely translated, means “f*** border patrol.” [1]

Notable funders of LUCHA include left-of-center organizations including the Sixteen Thirty Fund (sometimes styled “1630 Fund”), Funders for Justice,[2][3] the Open Society Foundations, and labor unions including the National Education Association, Fast Food Workers Committee, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99. [4]

LUCHA came to widespread notice in late 2021 after activists associated with the group pursued U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and confronted her in a bathroom over Sen. Sinema’s resistance to support $3.5 trillion social spending legislation backed by the Biden administration. [5]

Background

Living United for Change in Arizona was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in 2009 as a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization. [6][7] The organization is a partner of the Center for Popular Democracy, a left-of-center national organization that supports left-progressive groups active on the state and local level. [8]

In 2011, reports indicate that LUCHA was organized as a front group for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Immediately after ACORN was dissolved in 2010, Monica Sandschaeffer, a former Arizona ACORN official,[9] was LUCHA’s executive director.[10]

In 2008, Sandschaeffer and three other ACORN members were reportedly arrested for disrupting a meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors while protesting against Sheriff Joe Arapaio.[11] In 2007, the FBI investigated the Arizona branch of ACORN for “voter registration fraud of non-citizens” in the city of Phoenix.[12] In 2010, Judicial Watch, a right-leaning watchdog group, obtained records that showed that the FBI concluded “that ACORN’s employment practices [perpetuated] fraudulent voter registration,” but that charges were never filed under the Obama Administration because of technicalities that Judicial Watch called “questionable.” [13]

Activities

In 2016, Living United for Change in Arizona supported the passage into law of Proposition 206, also known as the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, an Arizona state ballot initiative, which on November 8, won 58% of the vote. The act established a new state minimum wage, effective on January 1, 2017, with preset annual increases in 2018, 2019, and 2020. [14][15]

In 2019, Living United for Change in Arizona supported the passage into law of the Arizona Family Leave Act (HB 2226), which allows employees leave from their work for medical reasons, including birth, placement of a child, and the care of family members with serious health conditions. The legislation only applies to workplaces that employ 50 or more people for at least 20 workweeks annually and the leave provided is not required by the Act to be paid. [16][17]

Later in 2019, Living United for Change in Arizona supported the passage into law of the Arizona Fair Workweek Act (HB 2227), which mandated that applicable employers provide their employees with more predictable work schedules, as opposed to work schedules determined more dynamically on a daily basis by market factors. [18][19]

On January 30, 2020, Living United for Change in Arizona endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in support of his campaign to win the Democratic Party’s nomination as its candidate in the 2020 presidential election. [20] On April 8, 2020, Sanders suspended his campaign, effectively ceding the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden. [21]

On October 3, 2021, a group of activists affiliated with LUCHA followed Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) into a bathroom at Arizona State University, where she teaches several classes. [22] The activists, in possible violation of Arizona law, filmed Sinema while pressuring her to pass a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill backed by Sinema’s fellow Senate Democrats and harassing her for her stance on immigration policies. [23]

People

Living United for Change in Arizona is led by Executive Director Tomas E. Robles Jr. [24]  Robles has worked as a left-of-center organizer in Arizona since 2010 and is also co-executive director of  the Arizona Center for Empowerment. [25] Robles has previously served as a United States Marine, and has worked at a number of left-leaning groups including the United Farm Workers Foundation and the Cesar Chavez Foundation. [26]

Living United for Change in Arizona co-executive director, Alejandra Gomez, also is also the co-executive director of the Arizona Center for Empowerment, and was previously the deputy organizing director of United We Dream. [27] [28]

Board Secretary Alicia Russell is also a board member at the Center for Popular Democracy. [29][30]

Funding

Living United for Change in Arizona has received funding from left-of-center organizations including the Sixteen Thirty Fund (sometimes styled “1630 Fund”) and Funders for Justice. [31][32] The group is also supported by labor unions including the National Education Association, Fast Food Workers Committee, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99. [33]

Living United for Change in Arizona has also received funding from foundations backed by prominent left-leaning billionaire George Soros. According to the online grants database of Open Society Foundations, the foundation granted LUCHA $1.5 million, $250,000 to LUCHA in 2019 and 2017, respectively. [34] [35]

Left-leaning billionaire, Chuck Feeney has also discreetly contributed $150,000 to LUCHA in 2016, through the Civic Participation Action Fund (CPAF), which was created by the Atlantic Advocacy Fund, a wing of Feeney’s private foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies.[36] Due to a legal loophole stemming from Atlantic Philanthropies being based in Bermuda, the private foundation is allowed to fund 501(c)(4) organizations in ways ordinary private foundations are not allowed to.

Another large donor to LUCHA is the Center for Popular Democracy, where LUCHA is a member. CPD has granted LUCHA $65,000 in 2015, [37] $288,600 in 2017, [38] $202,000 in 2018, [39] and $332,400 in 2019.[40] The Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, CPD’s 501(c)(4) wing, has also contributed to LUCHA, giving $984,806 in 2016 for the organization’s minimum wage campaign.[41] In total, LUCHA has received roughly $1.8 million from the CPD network.

References

  1. Arizona, LUCHA. Twitter, August 22, 2018. https://twitter.com/LUCHA_AZ/status/1032408999373680641?s=20. ^
  2. “LUCHA.” Funders for Justice. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://fundersforjustice.org/living-united-for-change-in-arizona/ ^

  3. Sixteen Thirty Fund, Form 990, Schedule I, Part II. 2016. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/264486735/201743179349301419/IRS990ScheduleI ^

  4. Data compiled from Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards Public Disclosure Room query tool from forms filed by labor organizations. Queries conducted October 6, 2021. ^
  5. “Immigration activists follow Sinema into bathroom in Phoenix.” The Hill. Accessed October 5, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/575133-immigration-activists-follow-sinema-into-bathroom-in-phoenix ^
  6. Sixteen Thirty Fund, Form 990, Schedule I, Part II. 2016. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/264486735/201743179349301419/IRS990ScheduleI ^

  7. “Living United for Change in Arizona.” The Arizona Corporation Commission. December 24, 2009. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://ecorp.azcc.gov/BusinessSearch/BusinessInfo?entityNumber=15664638 ^

  8. “Living United for Change in Arizona.”The Center for Popular Democracy. Accessed May 2, 2020. https://populardemocracy.org/about-us/our-partners/living-united-change-arizona ^
  9. “Acorn Members Arrested at Maricopa County Supervisors Meeting.” Arizona Daily Star, December 16, 2008. https://tucson.com/news/acorn-members-arrested-at-maricopa-county-supervisors-meeting/article_3c14ee49-b150-5b50-8921-4e8fac51851b.html. ^
  10. Service, ELVINA NAWAGUNA-CLEMENTECronkite News. “Arizona Democrats Tout Plan to Stimulate State, Federal Economy.” East Valley Tribune, September 22, 2011. https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/arizona/politics/arizona-democrats-tout-plan-to-stimulate-state-federal-economy/article_23bc05b6-e4de-11e0-8b78-001cc4c002e0.html. ^
  11. “Acorn Members Arrested at Maricopa County Supervisors Meeting.” Arizona Daily Star, December 16, 2008. https://tucson.com/news/acorn-members-arrested-at-maricopa-county-supervisors-meeting/article_3c14ee49-b150-5b50-8921-4e8fac51851b.html. ^
  12. Alarkon, Walter. “Report: FBI Investigating Acorn for Voter Fraud.” TheHill, February 4, 2016. https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/campaigns/41594-report-fbi-investigating-acorn-for-voter-fraud. ^
  13. “Obama Justice Department Shut down Federal Acorn Investigation According to Documents Obtained by Judicial Watch.” Judicial Watch, March 19, 2010. https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-releases/obama-justice-department-shut-down-federal-acorn-investigation-according-documents-obt/. ^
  14. “ARIZONA WORKING FAMILIES GET A RAISE!” Living United for Change in Arizona. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://luchaaz.org/azgetsaraise ^

  15. Beard Rau, Alia. “Prop. 206: Arizona voters approve $12 minimum wage.” Arizona Central. November 8, 2016. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/11/08/arizona-minimum-wage-proposition-206-election-results/92970650/ ^

  16. “ARIZONA FAMILY LEAVE ACT.” Living United for Change in Arizona. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://luchaaz.org/azworkingfamiliesact ^

  17. “HB 2226.” State of Arizona, House of Representatives. 2019. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/54leg/1r/bills/hb2226p.htm ^

  18. “ARIZONA FAIR WORKWEEK ACT.” Living United for Change in Arizona. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://luchaaz.org/azworkingfamiliesact ^

  19. “HB 2227.” State of Arizona, House of Representatives. 2019. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/54leg/1r/bills/hb2227p.pdf ^

  20. “WE ENDORSE THE MOVEMENT FOR COLLECTIVE POWER! LUCHA ENDORSES BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT.” Living United for Change in Arizona. Accessed May 2, 2020.

    https://luchaaz.org/luchaconbernie ^

  21. Otterbein, Holly; Siders, David. “Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign.” Politico. April 8, 2020. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/08/bernie-sanders-suspends-his-presidential-campaign-175137 ^

  22. “Immigration activists follow Sinema into bathroom, demanding action on reconciliation bill.” The Washington Post. Accessed October 5, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/04-kyrsten-sinema-bathroom-immigration-reconciliation/ ^
  23. “Immigration activists follow Sinema into bathroom in Phoenix.” The Hill. Accessed October 5, 2021.

    https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/575133-immigration-activists-follow-sinema-into-bathroom-in-phoenix ^

  24. “Speaker Profile: TOMAS ROBLES.” Netroots Nation. Access May 2, 2020.

    https://www.netrootsnation.org/profile/tomas-robles/

    ^

  25. “Staff.” ACE. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://www.empoweraz.org/staff12.

    ^

  26. “Tomas Robles – LinkedIn.” Accessed October 6, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomas-robles-5a139944.

    ^

  27. Chira, Susan. “Year of the Woman? In Arizona, It’s Women, Plural, and It’s Both Parties.” New York Times. April 9, 2018. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/us/politics/arizona-women-candidates-lesko-tipirneni.html ^

  28. “Staff.” ACE. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://www.empoweraz.org/staff12.

    ^

  29. “Living United for Change in Arizona.” The Arizona Corporation Commission. December 24, 2009. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://ecorp.azcc.gov/BusinessSearch/BusinessInfo?entityNumber=15664638

    ^

  30. “Board.” The Center for Popular Democracy, August 5, 2021. https://www.populardemocracy.org/about-us/board.

    ^

  31. “LUCHA.” Funders for Justice. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://fundersforjustice.org/living-united-for-change-in-arizona/ ^

  32. Sixteen Thirty Fund, Form 990, Schedule I, Part II. 2016. Accessed May 3, 2020.

    https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/264486735/201743179349301419/IRS990ScheduleI ^

  33. Data compiled from Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards Public Disclosure Room query tool from forms filed by labor organizations. Queries conducted October 6, 2021. ^
  34. Awarded Grants. Open Society Foundation. Accessed October 5, 2021. https://www.opensocietyfoundation.org/gra

    nts/past?filter_keyword=living+united&grant_id=OR2019-63288 ^

  35. Awarded Grants. Open Society Foundation. Accessed October 5, 2021. https://www.opensocietyfoundation.org/gra

    nts/past?filter_keyword=living+united&grant_id=OR2019-63288. ^

  36. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Civic Participation Action Fund. 2016. Schedule I. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/08/Civic-Participation-Action-Fund-2016-Form-990.pdf. ^
  37. Return of Tax-Exempt Organization. Form 990. 2015. The Center for Popular Democracy. Schedule I. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/453813436/201643129349302149/IRS990ScheduleI.

    ^

  38. Return of Tax-Exempt Organization. Form 990. 2017. The Center for Popular Democracy. Schedule I. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/453813436/201803169349305460/IRS990ScheduleI.

    ^

  39. Return of Tax-Exempt Organization. Form 990. 2018. The Center for Popular Democracy. Schedule I. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/453813436/201903159349304450/IRS990ScheduleI.

    ^

  40. Return of Tax-Exempt Organization. Form 990. 2019. The Center for Popular Democracy. Schedule I. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/453813436/202003149349302150/IRS990ScheduleI.

    ^

  41. Return of Tax-Exempt Organization. Form 990. 2016. The Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund. Schedule I. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/453860271/201723179349308122/IRS990ScheduleI. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2019

  • 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 $328,218 $383,346 $25,608 $0 N $294,291 $31,056 $0 $52,121 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,548,973 $2,483,794 $80,736 $0 N $2,469,251 $71,896 $0 $55,240 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)

    5716 N 19TH AVE
    PHOENIX, AZ 85015-2432