New Politics Leadership Academy (NPLA) is the education arm of New Politics, a left-of-center PAC that supports candidates with experience in the military or other public service agencies. The NPLA has been accused of illicitly disbursing funds to politicians in violation of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Both organizations claim to be nonpartisan but primarily support Democratic candidates.
In 2019, New Politics Leadership Academy announced the Fellows program which provides financial support to select “servant leaders” and other politicians who had unsuccessfully run for office in 2018 or had left office the same year. The program has been criticized by the Washington Examiner for potentially violating the legal mandate of the NPLA. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the NPLA is prohibited from using funds to support political candidates, yet the fellowship program has financially supported four individuals who later ran for office in 2020. 
The NPLA officially claims that the fellowship funds are going to the candidates for research, consulting, and other services. However, in an interview, NPLA and New Politics founder and executive director Emily Cherniak said that the Fellowship was designed to support candidates between elections:
What’s equally as important is the ones who don’t win, and what we have piloted and started this year is a fellowship program. And so what we realized was, a lot of our candidates who are not wealthy, have spent a year and a half not working, and they’re exhausted, and we just thought if we could provide some transition time for them; four months, where they get a stipend, so they don’t have to like worry about paying their rent or their groceries.
The Fellowship is officially listed as a project of the NPLA on its website. However, some of the fellowship money, such as the payments made to Gina Ortiz Jones (D-TX) and Amy McGrath (D-KY), is paid by New Politics, which as a 501(c)(4) is permitted to support electoral advocacy. However, other candidates, including Roger Dean Huffstetler (D-VA) and Dan Feehan (D-MN), were paid by the NPLA. 
The inaugural Fellowship class consisted of six Democratic Congressional candidates. Gina Ortiz Jones narrowly lost her race for Texas’s 23rd District, a district Hillary Clinton had carried in the 2016 presidential election.  In May 2019, Jones announced she was running for the seat again.  The NPLA’s fellowship to Jones is officially based on Jones conducting research into ways domestic policy potentially poses risks to national security.  Jones was paid $34,000 by New Politics. 
Fellow Dan Feehan narrowly lost the Congressional race for the 1st District of Minnesota in 2018 to Jim Hagedorn (R-MN). Feehan is running against Rep. Hagedorn again in 2020. The NPLA is officially paying Feehan for consulting services on how to communicate with voters in a politically polarized environment.  Feehan reported receiving $239,500 from the NPLA. 
Fellow Amy McGrath unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in 2018. In May 2019, McGrath announced she was running for the Senate against Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McGrath’s fellowship is officially for research on how to close the urban-rural gap in Kentucky.  McGrath reported receiving $42,500 from New Politics for the fellowship and an additional $35,000 for “consulting.” 
Fellow Roger Dean Huffstetler unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic Congressional primaries for the 5th District of Virginia in 2018. Huffstetler ran again in 2020, but was again defeated in the Democratic primary. The NPLA is officially paying Huffstetler as a mentor for other NPLA candidates and as a developer for campaign technology.  Huffstetler reported receiving $25,500 from the NPLA. 
Two NPLA fellows did not run for office in 2020. Fellow Ken Harbaugh (D-OH) unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Ohio’s seventh district. Fellow Juana Matias (D-MA) is a former Massachusetts state Representative and lost in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’s Third District in 2018, but she did not run for office in 2020. 
New Politics and NPLA were founded and are led by Emily Cherniack. In the early 2000s, Cherniack worked for City Year Boston, a community service nonprofit which works closely with AmeriCorps, one of the organizations from which the NPLA recruits political candidates. In 2007, Cherniak began working for Be the Change, a left-of-center nonprofit founded by Alan Khazei, the former CEO of City Year. In 2009, while continuing to work at Be the Change, Cherniak became the deputy finance director for Khazei’s Massachusetts Senate campaign, which he would lose in the Democratic primary. In 2011, she was appointed chief of staff and deputy campaign manager for Khazei’s second run for Senate. Two years later, Cherniack founded New Politics.