Other Group

Public Wise

Type:

Left-of-center advocacy organization

Headquarters:

New York, NY

Founder and President:

Eric Laufer

Public Wise is a left-of-center advocacy group and funding organization that was founded in 2019 by Eric Laufer, a New York City-based entrepreneur in the wind-reliant energy industry. The organization funds projects and organizations with the goal of increasing turnout for Democratic candidates in minority communities. The organization publishes the “Insurrection Index,” a tool tracking alleged participants of the January 6, 2021, rally in support of then-President Donald Trump and subsequent riot at the U.S. Capitol. The organization funds a variety of left-of-center election administration advocacy groups and conducts independent expenditures to aid Democratic campaigns. The organization funds groups including Media Matters for America, the Fair Elections Center, Black Voters Matter, and the Brennan Center for Justice. [1] [2] [3]

Background

Public Wise was founded in 2019 by Eric Laufer, a left-leaning businessman from New York City who holds several patents for wind-dependent energy technology. The organization was founded to increase voter turnout in minority areas ahead of the 2020 presidential election and focus on swing states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina. [4]

The organization’s finances are not publicly available as of early 2022, but it reports that it funded $2.3 million in program grants to left-of-center election administration and voter registration organizations in 2021. The organization also conducted independent expenditure campaigns in swing states such as Pennsylvania during the 2020 presidential election. [5]

Activity

One project of Public Wise is the “Insurrection Index,” a database that catalogues alleged participants in the January 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol. The launch of the Index was lauded by many left-of-center advocacy groups and partners of the project, including Media Matters for America, Democratic election lawyer Mark Elias, the Campaign for Accountability, and the Tech Transparency Project. [6]

The organization also funded an independent expenditure campaign in Pennsylvania that was a “targeted chase of naked ballots” during early voting. The group has also conducted research concerning minority voting patterns and organizing. [7]

Organizations Funded

In 2021, Public Wise reported distributing approximately $2.3 million in funds to left-of-center voter outreach campaigns and organizing projects at national, state, and local levels. Organizations receiving funds in 2021 included Accountable.US, Advance Democracy, All on the Line, America Votes, American Oversight, the Arizona Center for Empowerment, the Black Male Voter Project, Black Voters Matter, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign for Accountability, Democracy NC, Democracy Docket, Fair Count, and the Fair Elections Center. [8]

Leadership

Public Wise was founded and is funded by Eric Laufer, who is also the board president of the organization. Laufer is an entrepreneur who has owned businesses in the wind-dependent energy, real estate, and film industries. He holds patents on several different wind energy-related technology processes and has produced films about environmental issues. Public Wise’s office is listed as being headquartered at the same address as one of Laufer’s companies, the Laufer Wind Group LLC. [9]

Other board members of the organization include Andy Bernstein, the executive director of HeadCount; Kristen Dart, the political director for Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts; Shijuade Kadree, the chief advocacy officer for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York City; and Sean O’Shea, a lobbyist and former Clinton administration staffer. [10]

References

  1. “Partners.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/partners/ ^
  2. “Home.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/ ^
  3. “Board Directors.” Western Resource Advocates. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://westernresourceadvocates.org/about/board-directors/ ^
  4. “Projects.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/projects/ ^
  5. “Partners.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/partners/ ^
  6. “Public Wise Launches Insurrection Index, Searchable Database for Identifying January 6th Participants.” Public Wise. January 5, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/2022/01/05/public-wise-launches-insurrection-index-searchable-database-for-identifying-january-6th-participants/ ^
  7. “Projects.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/projects/ ^
  8. “Partners.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/partners/ ^
  9. “Laufer Wind Group LLC” Open Gov Colorado. https://opengovco.com/business/20171472052 ^
  10. “About.” Public Wise. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://publicwise.org/about/ ^
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