Person

Tom Lopach

Party:

Democrat

Organization:

Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information

Lives:

Washington, DC

Tom Lopach is a longtime Democratic political operative. As of 2020, he is the CEO of the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and its sister group Center for Voter Information (CVI), two left-of-center voter-outreach organizations which run voter mobilization campaigns in competitive states to support Democratic candidates.

Lopach has ties with the Kennedy family. He started his career working as a fundraiser for Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The founder and board chair of VPC and CVI is Page Gardner, another Ted Kennedy associate. In October 2019, Lopach co-hosted a fundraising dinner for Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s (D-MA) Democratic primary challenge against Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). [1]

Early Life and Education

Tom Lopach was born in Helena, Montana and graduated from Helena High School in 1992. In 1996, Lopach graduated from Gonzaga University in Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and government. [2]

Career

In 1999, Tom Lopach began his political career as executive director of the Committee for a Democratic Majority, and served in the role for eight years. [3] During that span, the PAC went from spending $465,000 in the 1998 election cycle to a peak of $2 million in the 2004 elections. Political contributions exclusively went to Democratic candidates, with the bulk of expenditure going toward fundraising efforts for candidates rather than direct contributions. Lopach left the PAC in 2007, and it ceased operations after the 2010 election cycle. Throughout his seven years at the PAC, Lopach simultaneously served as national finance director for Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). [4][5]

From 2007-2009, Lopach worked as the national finance director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He then worked for a year at the Export-Import Bank of the US as a senior vice president. [6]

From 2010-2014, Lopach served as chief of staff for Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). He then returned to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for a two-year stretch as executive director. [7]

In 2017, Lopach worked for less than a year at Subject Matter, a lobbying firm with clients including Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and Verizon. [8] He left the company to serve as chief of staff for Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT). In 2019, his position evolved into senior advisor for Bullock’s short-lived Democratic presidential campaign. [9] After Bullock dropped out of the race in December 2019, Lopach served as interim commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry for three months. [10]

Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information

In March 2020, Tom Lopach became CEO of both the Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information,[11] both founded by Page Gardner, another longtime Democratic operative who formerly worked for Ted Kennedy. [12]

Under Lopach’s direction, VPC and CVI launched an aggressive campaign over the summer to promote absentee ballots and mail-in voting for the 2020 elections. The organizations have sent out millions of mailers to battleground states, resulting in 939,000 registration applications and 2 million vote-by-mail applications. [13]

However, the initiative has faced widespread criticism from voters, media outlets, and elected officials. Many voters were confused by the forms and unsure if they were sent by state governments. Others felt that their privacy had been violated since the forms already contained their names and addresses filled out from information purchased from state officials by CVI. [14] Media outlets across the country ran stories after a flood of reports from voters unsure of the validity of their forms. [15][16] Elected officials from local and state governments criticized the mailings for eroding confidence in elections. [17]

In August, it was revealed that a half-million absentee ballot applications mailed by CVI were invalid due to a clerical error. Lopach made a public statement attributing the error to a printing company subcontracted by CVI. [18]

References

  1. Shaw, Donald. “Shadow Lobbyist Crowley to Raise Money for Kennedy’s Race Against Green New Deal Sponsor.” Sludge. October 4, 2019. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://readsludge.com/2019/10/04/shadow-lobbyist-crowley-to-raise-money-for-kennedys-race-against-green-new-deal-chief-sponsor/. ^
  2. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  3. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  4. “Committee for a Democratic Majority.” Open Secrets. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2004&strID=C00302067. ^
  5. “Expenditures, 2004 cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/expenditures.php?cycle=2008&cmte=C00302067. ^
  6. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  7. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  8. Shaw, Donald. “Shadow Lobbyist Crowley to Raise Money for Kennedy’s Race Against Green New Deal Sponsor.” Sludge. October 4, 2019. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://readsludge.com/2019/10/04/shadow-lobbyist-crowley-to-raise-money-for-kennedys-race-against-green-new-deal-chief-sponsor/. ^
  9. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  10. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  11. “Tom Lopach.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-lopach-45b049a4/. ^
  12. Glueck, Katie. “Stumbling into the ‘marriage gap.’ Politico. August 19, 2020. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/stumbling-into-the-marriage-gap-110156. ^
  13. “Make an Informed Choice.” Center for Voter Information. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.centerforvoterinformation.org/. ^
  14. “VERIFY: Is that absentee ballot application from the ‘Center for Voter Information’ legit?” KARE 11. August 20, 2020. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.kare11.com/article/news/verify/verify-minnesota-absentee-ballot-application-from-center-for-voter-information/89-c9334afa-dbfb-4960-9f46-7f1c8082f4df. ^
  15. “VERIFY: Is that absentee ballot application from the ‘Center for Voter Information’ legit?” KARE 11. August 20, 2020. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.kare11.com/article/news/verify/verify-minnesota-absentee-ballot-application-from-center-for-voter-information/89-c9334afa-dbfb-4960-9f46-7f1c8082f4df. ^
  16. Schweers, Jeffrey. “’Just stop’: Florida election supervisors lash out at DC-based voter advocacy group.” Tallahassee Democrat. June 16, 2020. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/state/2020/06/16/florida-election-officials-blast-nonprofit-voter-registration-group-over-errors/3200235001/. ^
  17. Wilson, Diane. “Confusing absentee ballot requests showing up in your mailbox? Here’s what you need to know.” 11 Eyewitness News. August 27, 2020. Accessed September 13, 2020. https://abc11.com/absentee-ballot-request-mail-in-center-for-voter-participation/6359564/. ^
  18. Iannelli, Nick. “Company explains ‘major error’ that led to half-million erroneous ballot applications in Virginia.” Wtop News. August 7, 2020. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://wtop.com/virginia/2020/08/company-explains-major-error-that-led-to-erroneous-ballot-applications-in-virginia/. ^
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