Ken Grossinger is a left-wing political consultant working for Democracy Partners as director of the firm’s Impact Philanthropy and Donor Advising Division. He previously worked as a political strategist for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. He is an ideological disciple of the socialist activist Richard Cloward.
In his position with Democracy Partners he advises several of the nation’s largest left-wing donors and foundations (such as the Ford Foundation and billionaire left-wing donor Jon Stryker) regarding their grants to left-wing activist organizations.
A particular area of influence for Grossinger is injecting left-of-center messages into arts, culture and film production. The 2018 documentary film Dark Money, a supposed exposé of right-of-center donors that premiered on PBS, was funded by both the CrossCurrents Foundation (a left wing foundation run by Grossinger and his wife) and the Ford Foundation (one of the nation’s largest left-wing foundations, and a client of Grossinger at Democracy Partners).
Prior to becoming a principal at Democracy Partners in April 2011, Ken Grossinger was the legislative field director for the AFL-CIO from 1997 through 2006. Before that, he held a similar position with the Service Employees International Union from 1987 through 1997.
His work with these labor organizations included worker organizing campaigns, contract negotiations, and political campaigns advocating the left-wing labor union perspective regarding Social Security and healthcare policy. Former AFL-CIO president John Sweeney once complimented Grossinger as “one of the smartest strategists I know.”
He is chairman of the board for the Alliance for Justice, a left-wing legal advocacy coalition that promotes Democratic-appointed nominees to the federal judiciary and opposes Republican appointees. He is also on the boards of the Nation Institute and the Environmental Grantmakers Association. He is a former board member of State Voices.
From 1983 until 1985, Grossinger was employed by the Human SERVE fund, an organization that advocated for a law that would register Americans to vote when they applied for welfare benefits, a plank that later became part of the federal “Motor Voter” law in 1993. The founders of Human SERVE were socialist activists Richard A. Cloward and his spouse, Frances Fox Piven. Grossinger was a former student and longtime friend of Cloward, whom he considered his mentor.
Cloward and Piven are also known for a 1966 essay published in The Nation in which they argued for a left-wing initiative to bring about the massive registration of new welfare recipients, with the explicit goal of overloading the government relief system, and creating such financial chaos that it would bring about political support for a guaranteed annual income. With the “collapse of current financing arrangements,” they wrote, “powerful forces can be generated for major economic reforms at the national level.” This has since become known as the “Cloward-Piven strategy”; critics of left-wing community organizing have alleged that it is the organizing model for ACORN and its successor far-left activist groups.
Following Cloward’s passing in August 2001, Grossinger (then working for the AFL-CIO) wrote a two-page eulogy for Democratic Left, a magazine published by the Democratic Socialists of America. It began with a sentence stating “our movement [emphasis added] lost a light that guided four decades of antipoverty, welfare rights activists and scholars.”
Democracy Partners is a for-profit, political and public policy consulting firm providing services and advice to nearly 200 left-of-center political committees, candidates, non-profits and issue advocacy organizations, such as MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change (AUFC), the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Working Families Party (WFP).
Grossinger’s Impact Philanthropy and Donor Advising Division provides strategic investment advice and services, plus legal compliance assistance, to several major left-wing foundations and donors. The list includes: the Arcus Foundation (funded by billionaire left-wing donor Jon Stryker), the Democracy Alliance (DA), the Ford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, NextGen Climate, the Rockefeller Family Fund, New Israel Fund, the Solidago Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Leo Hindery, Peter Buttenwieser, Brave New Foundation, and the Women’s Donor Network.
One particular service area of note includes films, arts and culture, with Grossinger described as a “pioneer” in the “art and social change space” who can help donors looking to give toward artistic projects impacting the “social justice arena.” Assistance to political candidates and ballot initiatives advancing left-wing policy goals are additional areas of expertise the division promotes as available to its well-heeled left-wing donor clients.
Grossinger has been the chief operating officer of the CrossCurrents Foundation since its creation in 2006. Since 2007 it has spent more than $500,000 annually, a large portion of which has been for grants to left-wing policy advocacy and/or arts and film organizations, including numerous organizations where he is a member of the board of directors/trustees. Grants for 2015 include donations to Alliance for Justice ($30,000 – he is chairman of the board), The Nation Institute ($20,000 – on the board), Grantmakers in the Arts ($10,000 – on the board), the Environmental Grantmakers Association ($10,000 – on the board), State Voices ($25,000 – former board member), the William J. Brennan Center for Justice ($10,000), the Center for Health Environment and Justice ($40,000), the Chesapeake Climate Action Network ($20,000), the Sundance Institute ($24,000), and the Voter Participation Center ($25,000.)
An example of the projects funded by the foundation’s grants is the 2018 documentary film Dark Money, aired on PBS through the left-wing film agency American Documentary. Presented as a supposed exposé of right-of-center donors, Dark Money is ironically funded by large left-wing donors, such as CrossCurrents and the Ford Foundation (one of the nation’s largest left-wing foundations and a client of Grossinger’s at Democracy Partners).
The president of CrossCurrents, and the only officer listed on federal tax records as a donor to the foundation, has been Micheline Klagsbrun. She married Grossinger in 2006 and is a painter whose father was director of Star Diamond, a major multi-national diamond producer and retailer. Most of the initial funding for the foundation ($150,000 in 2006), was donated by Klagsbrun. Since then, most of the remaining funding has been provided by two holding companies that have shared the same Washington, D.C., address: Rosegg Holdings ($1 million for 2012), and Celerina Holdings ($2.5 million for 2007 and 2014).