Non-profit

Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering

Website:

www.pennsylvaniansagainstgerrymandering.us

Location:

Alexandria, VA

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Formation:

2019

Type:

Electoral policy advocacy group

President:

Karen Blackistone Oaks

Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering (PAG) is a legislative advocacy group which supports modifying the Pennsylvania state approach to legislative redistricting, ostensibly to reduce gerrymandering. The organization was formed in August 2019 by Karen Blackistone Oaks, a partner of the Gober Group, a law firm based in Virginia. [1]

Despite presenting itself as a non-partisan reformer, PAG has been accused of being a fake-grassroots effort which seeks to entrench Pennsylvania’s gerrymandered districts. [2]

Legislative Goals

Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering promotes the use of “independent citizen commissions” to reform Pennsylvania’s Congressional Districts along non-partisan lines for the 2020 census. [3]

Prior to PAG’s formation, the leading redistricting advocate in Pennsylvania was Fair Districts PA, a project of the left-of-center League of Women Voters of PA. While PAG has a budget estimated around $1 million, Fair District PA’s annual budget is $125,000. [4]

Funding

In September 2019, Unite America announced donations totaling $5 million to four independent nonprofits seeking state-level electoral reforms: Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering, Alaskans for Better Elections, Voter Choice Massachusetts, and New York-based Rank the Vote. [5] PAG has received $250,000 as of early March 2020. [6]

Kathryn Murdoch, the liberal daughter-in-law of right-leaning media mogul Rupert Murdoch, co-chaired and funded Unite America. [7]

Fake Grassroots Effort

PAG’s commitment to combatting gerrymandering and its grassroots representation has been questioned due to the circumstances of the organization’s founding, its funder, and its lobbyists. [8]

PAG’s webpage describes its membership as consisting of “Republicans, Democrats and Independents who are committed to ending gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and promoting reform.” Yet the organization’s webpage contains little information about its activity and lists no executives nor staff. [9] Despite being Pennsylvania-focused, the PAG was officially established in Virginia. [10] Its founder is a partner of a major political law firm, the Gober Group, which primarily serves right-of-center PACs and Republican-aligned organizations. [11]

PAG is a registered client of two of the biggest lobbying firms in Pennsylvania: Long, Nyquist & Associates and Maverick Strategies. Both firms are considered right-of-center and worked to draw Pennsylvania’s Congressional maps in 2000 and 2010, both of which are considered highly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. Long, Nyquist & Associates’s co-founder, Michael Long, is a veteran GOP operative who personally managed the redistricting efforts of the Pennsylvania Senate Republicans at the behest of then-State Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer (R-Altoona). [12]

References

  1. “Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists with a History of Gerrymandering.” The Intercept. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/. ^
  2. “Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists with a History of Gerrymandering.” The Intercept. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/. ^
  3. “How Would Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering’s Plan Fix this Problem.” Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://www.pennsylvaniansagainstgerrymandering.us/. ^
  4. “Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists with a History of Gerrymandering.” The Intercept. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/. ^
  5. “Unite American Announces Investments in Four Reform Campaigns.” Unite America. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://www.uniteamerica.org/news-article/firstgrants. ^
  6. “Unite America Financial Summary.” FEC.gov. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00677773/?tab=summary&cycle=2020. ^
  7. “Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists with a History of Gerrymandering.” The Intercept. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/. ^
  8. “Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists with a History of Gerrymandering.” The Intercept. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/. ^
  9. “About the Effort.” Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://www.pennsylvaniansagainstgerrymandering.us/. ^
  10. “Articles of Incorporation-NonProfit.” Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6456032-Pennsylvanians-Against-Gerrymandering.html. ^
  11. “Vendor/Recipient: The Gober Group.” Open Secrets. March 5, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/campaign-expenditures/vendor?year=2016&vendor=Gober%20Group. ^
  12. “Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists with a History of Gerrymandering.” The Intercept. Accessed March 5, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/. ^
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Pennsylvanians Against Gerrymandering


Alexandria, VA