ProgressNow, a 501(c)(4) left-of-center advocacy group formed in 2012, works with its state partner organizations to promote the liberal agenda through media strategies, including targeted email and social media campaigns. It dubs itself as “building the online progressive movement.” Through the state partners, ProgressNow communicates progressive ideals and counters conservative viewpoints on hundreds of state and local issues.
ProgressNow stood in opposition to a proposal in Denver called ColoradoCare, which would have replaced most private insurance with a state-run system paid for by a tax increase on employers and employees. There were concerns the system would run heavily in debt, possibly leading to state cuts in education and transportation projects.
After Donald Trump took office as President, Michael Huttner, the founder of ProgressNow and now the CEO of New York-based social change agency Fenton, planned to target Trump and many of his cabinet appointments through a communication effort in all 50 states.
Huttner said he planned to use the ProgressNow network to prevent the Trump administration from “pushing reckless legislation, harmful policies.” “We’re in for the fight of our lives,” he said.
ProgressNow New Mexico was involved in demonstrations at the Las Cruces, New Mexico, offices of Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.). Numerous people from the town of Truth or Consequences traveled there to discuss Pearce’s support of Trump. ProgressNow New Mexico’s blog alleged that staffers hid behind locked doors and didn’t answer the phones. Some were filmed trying to sneak out the back door, and a person identified as affiliated with ProgressNow New Mexico provided video of the event to the press.
That state group also partnered with such organizations as New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Health Action New Mexico for a bus tour across New Mexico urging Republican members of Congress not to roll back the Affordable Care Act. “Stop playing politics with health,” said ProgressNow New Mexico spokesman Lucas Herndon.
In Arizona, Republicans pushed a bill in 2017 that would allow lawmakers to override initiatives passed by voters, with the theory that the legislature could intervene if they feel voters made mistakes. ProgressNow Arizona was among the groups working to defeat the proposal.
“That bill would essentially allow the legislature to repeal or change any measure voters had approved on the ballot, after voters had voted it in,” said Josselyn Berry with ProgressNow Arizona.
Lonnie Scott serves as executive director, after having led sister group Progress Michigan for three years. He previously worked as state director for Enroll America, a group that focused on educating people about their health-care options through Obamacare.
Scott took over for Arshad Hasan, who is listed as executive director on the organization’s IRS 990 form for 2014. Hasan’s reported total compensation was $71,875 for an average work week of 20 hours. Hasan left to become chief engagement officer at Greenpeace USA.
Michael Huttner, the founder, was an avid campaigner for President Barack Obama and co-wrote the book 60 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America after he took office. He currently serves as CEO of Fenton Communications, an appointment that was praised by liberal U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado).
Doug Phelps is the chairman of the group’s board of directors. He assists with a number of other left-leaning organizations, including serving as president and board chairman for the United States Public Interest Research Group.
The organization’s IRS 990 form for 2014 shows $1,118,594 in revenue in 2014 and $1,122,460 in expenses.
Grants from ProgressNow to other organizations on that form include money given to umbrella groups like Progress Florida ($10,000), Progress Iowa ($50,000), and Progress Missouri ($27,373) for the purposes of “citizen engagement.” ProgressNow also gave grants to such groups as Granite City Education in New Hampshire ($15,000) and Bold Nebraska ($10,000) for the same stated purpose.