Non-profit

VoteVets Action Fund

Website:

www.votevets.org

Tax ID:

51-0596352

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Formation:

2006

VoteVets Action Fund is the 501(c)4 arm of VoteVets, a left-leaning group identified with current and former military members that focuses on advancing left-of-center policies related to the environment, gay and lesbian rights, immigration, and labor. The action fund works primarily on advocacy of those issues in the political arena. [1]

Some veterans groups such as the American Legion have expressed concern about the highly partisan nature of groups like VoteVets and worried that these groups put politics above the best interests of veterans. [2]

Initiatives

VoteVets has often found itself at odds with other veterans groups. After VoteVets criticized Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), for not supporting a bill to boost Veterans Administration funding, Karl Kaelin of a Kentucky committee of Veterans of Foreign Wars came to his defense. Kaelin pointed out that McConnell had been a vocal advocate for the need for reform at the VA and was instrumental in the passage of a bipartisan veterans bill. [3]

Jon Soltz, co-founder and chairman of VoteVets, defended Eric Shinseki, the then Secretary of Veterans Affairs, even as other veterans groups demanded his resignation in the wake of controversy involving wait times for claims to be processed at VA hospitals in 2014. (Shinseki eventually resigned.) Soltz put the blame on former President George W. Bush, telling National Memo that “all of these new Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were not created by Barack Obama and his administration.” [4]

Partisan Activities

VoteVets has funneled millions in each federal election to help Democrats – some $7 million during the 2014 midterms. [5]

The Center for Responsive Politics said VoteVets Action Fund was “the highest spending liberal nonprofit active in federal elections” that year. [6]

The group lambasted President Donald Trump for his executive order restricting travel from several countries with majority Muslim populations and his efforts to repeal Obamacare in an ad on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in 2017. [7]

This came after VoteVets called Trump a “cheap fraud” as he sought the Republican nomination for president in 2016. [8]

People

Jon Soltz, who heads both VoteVets and the Vote Vets Action Fund, served as a tank platoon leader during the Kosovo conflict and completed two tours of duty in Iraq.[9]

Soltz received a total compensation package of $298,000 in 2015, while public relations director Eric Schmeltzer got $135,500 in total compensation. [10]

Funding

Although as a 501(c)4, VoteVets Action Fund doesn’t have to reveal the source of its funding, reports over the years have revealed sizable donations from like-minded groups. Climate Reality Project (Alliance for Climate Protection) and Partnership Project Action Fund, for example, have given seven-figure contributions. Other major donors have included Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council Action Fund, AFL-CIO and America Votes. [11]

VoteVets Action Fund reported contributions of $5,550,855 and expenses of $7,562,008 on its IRS Form 990 for 2015. Just more than $3 million of those expenses are listed as political expenditures. [12]

Waterfront Strategies, a Washington, D.C., media strategy firm, was paid $3,500,183 by VoteVets Action Fund in 2015. [13]

References

  1. VoteVets: About page. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://www.votevets.org/about ^
  2. Carney, Eliza Newlin. “Who Really Speaks for Veterans? Rules of the Game.” Roll Call. September 30, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.rollcall.com/news/who-really-speaks-for-veterans ^
  3. Lilyea, John. “VoteVets think that they represent veterans.” This Ain’t Hell. October 8, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=55690 ^
  4.   Staff. “VoteVets Chair Jon Soltz: Critics Demanding Shinseki Resignation Are ‘Hypocrites.’” National Memo. May 26, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://www.nationalmemo.com/vote-vets-chair-jon-soltz-critics-demanding-shinseki-resignation-hypocrites/ ^
  5. Carney, Eliza Newlin. “Who Really Speaks for Veterans? Rules of the Game.” Roll Call. September 30, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.rollcall.com/news/who-really-speaks-for-veterans ^
  6. Maguire, Robert. “Fueled by unions and secret donors, liberal vets group spends millions boosting Democrats.” OpenSecrets.org. May 31, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2016/05/fueled-by-unions-and-secret-donors-liberal-vets-group-spends-millions-boosting-democrats/ ^
  7. Rozsa, Matthew. “VoteVets calls out President Trump by name in new ad.” Salon. February 6, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.salon.com/2017/02/06/votevets-calls-out-president-trump-by-name-you-want-to-be-a-legitimate-president-then-act-like-one/ ^
  8. Maguire, Robert. “Fueled by unions and secret donors, liberal vets group spends millions boosting Democrats.” OpenSecrets.org. May 31, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2016/05/fueled-by-unions-and-secret-donors-liberal-vets-group-spends-millions-boosting-democrats/ ^
  9. Huffington Post: Jon Soltz author page. Accessed October 5, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/jon-soltz ^
  10. IRS Form 990 for 2015 for VoteVets Action Fund. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2850013-VoteVets-Org-Form-990.html ^
  11. Maguire, Robert. “Fueled by unions and secret donors, liberal vets group spends millions boosting Democrats.” OpenSecrets.org. May 31, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2016/05/fueled-by-unions-and-secret-donors-liberal-vets-group-spends-millions-boosting-democrats/ ^
  12. IRS Form 990 for 2015 for VoteVets Action Fund. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2850013-VoteVets-Org-Form-990.html ^
  13. IRS Form 990 for 2015 for VoteVets Action Fund. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2850013-VoteVets-Org-Form-990.html ^
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