Person

David Plouffe

Nationality:

American

Organization:

ACRONYM and Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative

Known for:

Managing the 2008 Presidential Campaign of Barack Obama

David Plouffe is a Democratic political strategist who currently is a board member and strategist for ACRONYM, a left-of-center advocacy nonprofit specializing in voter mobilization through digital outreach. He also works as the president of policy and advocacy at the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, an LLC which provides seed funding for technology and education initiatives founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Plouffe is best known for running Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. After the election, he served as a senior adviser to the President and later worked a political adviser to Uber.

Plouffe has been criticized for accepting paid speaking engagements from organizations connected to authoritarian governments, and he was fined $90,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for undisclosed lobbying.

Education

In 1985, Plouffe began attending the University of Delaware. He left the school in 1990 without getting a degree. He finished his degree in political science in 2009. [1]

Early Campaign Work

Plouffe worked on numerous Democratic political campaigns throughout the 1990s. [2]

In 1990, he served as deputy field director for the successful Senatorial reelection campaign of then-U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). [3]

Two years later, Plouffe worked as a state field director for Sen. Harkin’s Democratic presidential primary campaign. After Harkin’s loss to then-Gov. Bill Clinton (D-AR), Plouffe became the campaign manager for John Olver’s (D-MA) successful Congressional run. [4]

In 1994, Plouffe managed the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Charles Oberly (D-DE) who would later be appointed US Attorney for Delaware by President Barack Obama. [5]

In 1995, Plouffe was briefly the campaign director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He then served as campaign manager for the successful Congressional reelection of Robert Torricelli (D-NJ). [6]

In 1997, Plouffe left campaign work for two years to work as deputy chief of staff for then-House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO). [7]

In 1999, Plouffe became the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

AKPD Messenger and Media

From 2001 to 2008, Plouffe joined AKPD Messenger and Media, a political consulting firm that serves Democratic candidates, as one of four partners with David Axelrod, John Kupper, and John Del Cecato. [8]

Aside from Barack Obama, AKPD’s most notable clients during Plouffe’s tenure were John Edwards (D-AK) when he ran for president in 2004, and Deval Patrick’s (D-MA) run for governor in 2006. [9] After Plouffe left the firm in 2008, AKPD worked on the mayoral campaigns of Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago)[10] and Bill de Blasio (D-New York City). [11]

Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign

In 2007, AKPD Messenger and Media was hired to run the presidential campaign of then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), with Plouffe as campaign manager. [12]

During the Democratic primary, Plouffe’s strategy was to target low-turnout caucus-based states with small delegate counts, like Nebraska, Idaho, and North Dakota. In doing so, Plouffe amassed enough state wins for Obama to build enough momentum to defeat then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in larger states where her name recognition and political roots had the strongest impact. [13]

Plouffe emphasized keeping campaign strategy and communication confidential, and especially avoiding any public appearance of infighting. [14]

In Obama’s victory speech, he called Plouffe’s campaign “the best political campaign… in the history of the United States of America.” [15]

Obama Administration

After the election, Plouffe initially served as an outside advisor to Obama’s presidency. [16] In 2009, he wrote The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory. [17] Plouffe also joined the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, a nonprofit which sponsors speaking engagements by politicians. [18]

In 2011, Plouffe became a senior advisor to the President at the White House by replacing David Axelrod who had left to join Obama’s reelection campaign. In his role, Plouffe rarely gave policy suggestions and instead focused on the mechanics of politics and public support. Plouffe left the White House and his advisory role in 2013, shortly after Obama’s reelection. [19]

Private Sector

In 2013, Plouffe became a contributor and senior advisor to Bloomberg LP, the financial services and media firm headed by former New York Mayor and Democratic politician Michael Bloomberg. [20]

In 2014, Plouffe became a senior vice president of policy and strategy at Uber. In 2017, Plouffe was fined $90,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for failing to register as a lobbyist after contacting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a client of AKPD Messenger and Media, on behalf of Uber to amend regulations on the use of ridesharing at Chicago’s airports. [21]

Plouffe left Uber in 2017 to work as the president of policy and advocacy at the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. [22]

Board Seats

In 2014, Plouffe became a board member of the Obama Foundation, the Obama family’s charitable foundation. [23] In 2015, Plouffe joined the board of Rubicon Global, the Atlanta-based “Uber for trash.” [24]

In 2019, Plouffe became a board member and strategist of Tara McGowan’s Democratic-aligned digital consulting network ACRONYM and its associated PAC, PACRONYM. His role is to boost fundraising and manage the organization’s ongoing digital strategy campaign to oppose the reelection of President Donald Trump, which plans to spend $75 million on digital advertisements. [25][26]

Shortly after joining ACRONYM, the organization launched Shadow, a software company which it paid over $60,000 to manage the Iowa Democratic Caucus voting process. Technical errors in Shadow’s software resulted in a three-day delay in reporting caucus results. [27]

Speaking Controversies

In 2009, Plouffe accepted $50,000 to speak in Baku, Azerbaijan, at an event sponsored by an organization with ties to the country’s authoritarian government. After receiving criticism from numerous human rights organizations, Plouffe donated the entire fee to the National Democratic Institute, a pro-democracy nonprofit aligned with the Democratic Party. [28]

The following year, Plouffe received $100,000 for two speeches given in Nigeria to a South African telecommunications company, MTN Group, which has ties to the Iranian government. Plouffe denied any wrongdoing and claimed the speaking topics were technological in nature. [29]

References

  1. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  2. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  3. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  4. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  5. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  6. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  7. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  8. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  9. “David Axelrod.” Hamilton College. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.hamilton.edu/news/calendar/common-ground/axelrod-and-rove/david-axelrod. ^
  10. “Emanuel Ramps up Fundraising.” Chicago Tribune. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2013-01-16-ct-met-mayor-emanuel-fundraising-0116-20130116-story.html. ^
  11. “Branding Bill de Blasio: The Message Machine That Made NYC’s Next Mayor.” Talking Points Memo. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/branding-bill-de-blasio-inside-the-message-machine-that-made-nyc-s-next-mayor. ^
  12. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  13. “Obama’s campaign chief: low profile, high impact.” The Bulletin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/obama-s-campaign-chief-low-profile-high-impact/article_efa11361-493f-5d12-bf3e-0503a3a45441.html. ^
  14. “Obama’s campaign chief: low profile, high impact.” The Bulletin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/obama-s-campaign-chief-low-profile-high-impact/article_efa11361-493f-5d12-bf3e-0503a3a45441.html. ^
  15. “Text of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.” Baltimore Sun. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20081113163102/http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-text1105%2C0%2C2684817.story. ^
  16. Stone, Daniel. “David Plouffe, Obama’s Whiz Kid, Returns to the White House.” Daily Beast. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/david-plouffe-obamas-whiz-kid-returns-to-the-white-house. ^
  17. “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory.” Amazon. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.amazon.com/Audacity-Win-Lessons-Historic-Victory/dp/0670021334. ^
  18. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  19. Stone, Daniel. “David Plouffe, Obama’s Whiz Kid, Returns to the White House.” Daily Beast. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/david-plouffe-obamas-whiz-kid-returns-to-the-white-house. ^
  20. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  21. Racke, Will. “Former Obama aide fined for illegally lobbying Chicago mayor on behalf of Uber.” Chicago Business Journal. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2017/02/16/ex-obama-aide-david-plouffe-fined-regarding-uber.html. ^
  22. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  23. “David Plouffe.” Linkedin. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-plouffe-00662396/. ^
  24. “David Plouffe Joins Board of the ‘Uber for Trash.’” Rubicon. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.rubicon.com/news/david-plouffe-joins-board-of-the-uber-for-trash/. ^
  25. Montellaro, Zach. “Davoid Plouffe to join ACRONYM board of directors.” Politico. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/05/david-plouffe-to-join-acronym-board-of-directors-1481734. ^
  26. Goldmacher, Shane. “Democratic Strategists Set Up $75 million Digital Campaign to Counter Trump.” New York Times. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/us/politics/democratic-political-campaign-advertising.html. ^
  27. Robbilard, Kevin, Terkel, Amanda, Redden, Molly. “This is the Buzzy Democratic Firm That Botched the Iowa Caucuses.” Huffington Post. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/iowa-caucus-app-shadow_n_5e390191c5b687dacc722824?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGj-481H-kxwaJdZsPo0OlA1YxFdYiwCMu9IGKHxlKHCRyX6twfQtQnJaFEJMIuUmFpUx38AzlaQB6dW9cpJGCg8kNbGbjbnJPWlzhcrIjuwv3Ybn10NgYWlXSg2O0Lkt4ocZKmphV4_0RuJa_WvfNudt2Pj_I5vbLWdjqYs_Vqk. ^
  28. Leibovich, Mark. “From Knife Seller to the President’s Hard Edge.” New York Times. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/us/politics/plouffe-obama-aide-lends-firm-hand-to-campaign.html?pagewanted=all. ^
  29. Baker, Peter. “Aide’s Fees Draw Critics and, then, Defenders.” New York Times. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/us/politics/david-plouffe-defended-for-ties-to-iran-linked-company.html?_r=1&. ^
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