Person

Tom Perriello

Official Congressional portrait of Rep. Tom Perriello (VA-05) (link)
Nationality:

American

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Occupation:

Executive Director, Open Society Foundation U.S. Programs

Former Special Representative (Obama U.S. State Department)

Former President & CEO, Center for American Progress

Former Congressman (VA-Democrat)

Tom Perriello is a Virginia Democratic politician who ran unsuccessfully for the party’s 2017 gubernatorial nomination now serving as executive director for U.S. programs at the Open Society Foundations.[1] He has served as a one-term U.S. Representative, a State Department official in the Obama administration, and as president of the liberal advocacy group Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Perriello has a reputation as an aggressive liberal, staking out a left-wing voting record in Congress, pushing liberal policies as an advocate and administration official, and campaigning on a platform reportedly inspired by that of self-described democratic socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

Early Life

Thomas Stuart Price Perriello was raised in a small town outside Charlottesville, Virginia. His father, Vito, was a well-known local pediatrician and his mother, Linda, a financial analyst. Tom was the youngest of four children.[2]

Perriello attended western Albemarle public schools before graduating from Saint Anne’s-Belfield, a private Charlottesville boarding school. He went to Yale University for college. He then claims to have spent some time working for a “sustainability” company before going back to Yale law school, graduating in 2001.[3]

From 2002-2003 he worked as an assistant to the international prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Then he returned to the U.S. and was based in New York[4] while he worked stints as a national security consultant in Kosovo, Darfur, and twice in Afghanistan for the International Center for Transitional Justice.[5]

Work for Liberal Nonprofits

Res Publica

After returning from Sierra Leone in 2003, Perriello claims that he worked in left-of-center politics in the U.S. and overseas.[6] During this time, he co-founded the nonprofit Res Publica, an “incubator for social entrepreneurship” that spawns other groups. [7]

Avaaz.org

In 2007, Perriello co-founded the “global progressive group” Avaaz.org with two colleagues who had helped him start Res Publica.[8]  Avaaz was formed in collaboration with liberal website MoveOn.org, the massive Democratic online activist group.[9]

Avaaz was created to organize people internationally on liberal issues like poverty, human rights and the environment. [10] Perriello described it in 2004 an organization “aimed at promoting international justice on behalf of the religious left.” [11]

In its first five years, Avaaz raised about $30 million from members around the globe.[12] Initially, Avaaz was known for its online petitions taking leftist positions and attacking companies that they believed were causing global warming.[13]

During Perriello’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign, Avaaz, run by Perriello’s co-founder and colleague, gave Perriello’s campaign $230,000 in “seed” contributions. The Washington Post wrote that Periello had taken money from “an international activist group that doesn’t disclose the names of the overwhelming majority of its donors”[14] and his opponent criticized him for taking Avaaz’s “dark money” donations.[15]

U.S. Representative

In 2008, Perriello was elected to the U.S. Congress from Virginia’s 5th congressional district, defeating then-incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia). The liberal news website HuffPost wrote, “on the campaign and in Congress, he was a favorite of the progressive community.”[16]

Perriello described his 2008 campaign as one based on “conviction politics,” [17] which critics claimed meant that he arrogantly put his progressive priorities above the desires of the voters in the district that he was vying to represent.[18]

During his single term in office Perriello stuck to his left-wing 2008 campaign agenda and backed President Barack Obama on several important votes.  Perriello voted for the controversial $800 billion stimulus package,[19] the Obamacare bill,[20] and the proposed “cap-and-trade” environmentalist energy policy.[21]Perriello also pushed to end a $14 billion corporate tax credit to pay for environmentalist programs focused on weatherization and energy-efficiency.[22]

Time Magazine labeled him an “unapologetic progressive” for his congressional votes.[23]

During Perriello’s 2010 re-election campaign his opponent criticized his votes in support of Obama’s priorities, including the cap-and-trade bill, which his opponent said gave tax breaks to foreign companies creating jobs in China.[24] President Obama campaigned for Perriello in the final weekend of the campaign.[25] Perriello was defeated.[26]

Center For American Progress Action Fund

In 2011, Perriello was named president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) advocacy and lobbying organization best known as the publisher of the ThinkProgress network of liberal blogs, just as his post-congressional lobbying ban was set to expire. CAP Action was established as the advocacy and lobbying arm of the Center for American Progress (CAP) think tank, which was established by longtime Clinton family confidant John Podesta, liberal billionaire George Soros, and a handful of other prominent Democrats and former Clinton administration officials. The Action Fund is also the home of the Progress Report,[27] and a college campus-organizing group, Campus Progress.[28]

In this post, Perriello supported the Democrats and liberal policy issues.

  • Perriello released a statement lauding the Democratic-controlled Senate’s vote to enact the nuclear option in appointing numerous federal appellate judges.[29]
  • Perriello fasted in solidarity with leftist immigration reform activists[30] and he penned an op-ed calling for amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants.[31]
  • He also called for Obama to unilaterally implement green energy policies and lauded Obama’s green energy mandates. [32]

From 2011 to 2013, the Center for American Progress Action Fund spent over $500,000 lobbing the federal government.[33] The organization lobbied on a wide range of bills taking liberal policy positions against domestic energy production, against a repeal of Obamacare, and to raise taxes on American energy corporations.[34]

U.S. State Department

In February 2014, was appointed to a position in the Obama administration’s State Department under Secretary John Kerry. Perriello would lead a State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development efficiency review effort originally created by Secretary Hillary Clinton.[35]

Perriello said one of his top objectives in this effort would be to make sure that climate change was integrated into the State Department’s strategic vision.[36] He also focused on number of other leftist global priorities that sought to use American taxpayer dollars to cut poverty, create an inclusive global middle class, and address global health problems.[37]

After the report was released in April 2015, the Washington Post highlighted criticisms that it’s “[proposed] solutions feel very small-bore compared with the scale of the problems identified.” Specifically that the report didn’t have a big plan for reforming the UN to deal with failed states, nor does it propose a groundbreaking strategy on climate change.[38]

In July 2015, President Obama additionally appointed Perriello Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[39]

2017 Gubernatorial Campaign

In January 2017 Perriello launched a “progressive insurgent” campaign for Governor of Virginia.[40] According to liberal magazine The Nation, Periello would have been among the most liberal governors ever elected in Virginia.[41]

Perriello focused his campaign on national issues and opposition to the Trump administration.[42] In addition to obstructing conservative policies, Perriello said that as governor he would support a number of left-wing priorities. Perriello’s campaign supported government-funded community college, supported a $15 minimum wage,[43] called for state funding of eight weeks of paid family leave for employees,[44] opposed tax cuts,[45] opposed Republican plans to repeal Obamacare, and proposed government funded clean-energy projects.[46]

Perriello’s Democratic opponent, then-Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D-Virginia), criticized Perriello’s previous skepticism of certain pro-abortion positions. Perriello said that he regretted those positions and was pursuing an “unapologetically pro-choice platform.”[47] Northam also criticized his platform for seeking $1 billion in tax increases to fund government spending programs. [48]

During the race, Perriello was endorsed by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)[49] and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), [50] CAP founder and former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, current CAP CEO Neera Tanden, and about 30 Obama White House staffers including Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe and former White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer.[51]

Perriello was defeated by Northam in the Democratic primary.[52]

Campaign Funding

As of April 2017, 56 percent of Perriello’s $2.2 million in campaign contributions came from out of state donors.[53] In June 2017, liberal billionaire George Soros gave Perriello another $250,000, bringing his family’s aggregate total for the election to more than $685,000 in contributions.[54] Joining Soros with $300,000 in contributions was Donald Sussman, a billionaire hedge fund manager who sits on the board of directors at the Center for American Progress. [55]

Win Virginia

In June 2017, immediately following his Democratic primary loss, Perriello launched the Win Virginia PAC to raise $1 million in support of Democrats in Virginia hoping to try and flip the Virginia House of Delegates to the Democrats.[56] In the 2017 general elections, Democrats made substantial gains but did not win a majority of seats.

Open Society Foundations

In 2018, Patrick Gaspard, a former Obama Administration official who leads George Soros‘s Open Society Foundations, appointed Perriello to lead OSF’s United States programs.[57]

References

  1. “New Leadership for Our U.S. Programs.” Open Society Foundations. October 10, 2018. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/press-releases/foundations-strengthen-work-promote-open-society-values-united-states?utm_campaign=osftwacct&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=t.co.
  2. Banerjee, Neela. “The Virginia Experiment: Is Tom Perriello ’96, ’01JD, a new kind of congressman? Or just the kind who doesn’t get reelected?” Yale Alumni Magazine. May/June 2010. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20101202091048/http://yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2010_05/perriello4655.html
  3. Goldsmith, Will. “Can he go the distance?” CVille Magazine. October 13, 2008. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20081007162745/http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=121304062461064&ShowArticle_ID=11800610083997492
  4. Dr. and Mrs. Vito Perriello Jr. “Letter: Dr. and Mrs. Vito Perriello Jr.: Perriellos tell of son’s roots.” Martinville Bulletin. October 5, 2008. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20110722012137/http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/article.cfm?ID=15879
  5. Goldsmith, Will. “Can he go the distance?” CVille Magazine. October 13, 2008. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20081007162745/http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=121304062461064&ShowArticle_ID=11800610083997492
  6. Perriello, Tom. “Conviction Politics… in Practice.” Talking oints Memo. October 29, 2007. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20080301031310/http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2007/10/29/conviction_politics_in_practic/
  7. Banerjee, Neela. “The Virginia Experiment: Is Tom Perriello ’96, ’01JD, a new kind of congressman? Or just the kind who doesn’t get reelected?” Yale Alumni Magazine. May/June 2010. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20101202091048/http://yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2010_05/perriello4655.html
  8. Suderman, Alan. “In Virginia races, ‘dark money’ comes with ironic twist.” May 23, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-ap-evg-dark-money-20170523-story.html
  9. Schneider, Greg. “‘Dark money’ vs. corporate cash: Virginia Democratic rivals clash over funding. Washington Post. April 22, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/dark-money-vs-corporate-cash-democratic-rivals-clash-over-funding/2017/04/21/cc91253c-25d7-11e7-a1b3-faff0034e2de_story.html?utm_term=.81ced748550b
  10. Goldsmith, Will. “Can he go the distance?” CVille Magazine. October 13, 2008. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20081007162745/http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=121304062461064&ShowArticle_ID=11800610083997492
  11. Schneider, Greg. “‘Dark money’ vs. corporate cash: Virginia Democratic rivals clash over funding. Washington Post. April 22, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/dark-money-vs-corporate-cash-democratic-rivals-clash-over-funding/2017/04/21/cc91253c-25d7-11e7-a1b3-faff0034e2de_story.html?utm_term=.81ced748550b
  12. Walt, Vivienne. “How a New York City–Based Activist Group Became a Player in Syria.” March 15, 2012. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2109212,00.html
  13. Hopkinson, Jenny and Paravinci, Giulia. “How grassroots lobbying push blindsided Monsanto.” Politico. June 8, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.politico.eu/article/europes-weedkiller-wars-glyphosate-roundup-who-european-commission/
  14. Schneider, Greg. “‘Dark money’ vs. corporate cash: Virginia Democratic rivals clash over funding. Washington Post. April 22, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/dark-money-vs-corporate-cash-democratic-rivals-clash-over-funding/2017/04/21/cc91253c-25d7-11e7-a1b3-faff0034e2de_story.html?utm_term=.81ced748550b
  15. Moomaw, Graham. “Northam holds financial edge over Perriello for gubernatorial primary’s final push.” Richmond Times Dispatch. June 6, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/northam-holds-financial-edge-over-perriello-for-gubernatorial-primary-s/article_b32e21af-1f42-51a0-bea9-31d21f26c944.html
  16. Terkel, Amanda and Grim, Ryan. “Tom Perriello Reportedly Open To Virginia Governor Bid In 2013.” Huffington Post. November 28, 2012. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/tom-perriello-virginia-governor-2013_n_2203937.html
  17. Perriello, Tom. “Conviction Politics… in Practice.” Talking Points Memo. October 29, 2007. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20080301031310/http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2007/10/29/conviction_politics_in_practic/
  18. Banerjee, Neela. “The Virginia Experiment: Is Tom Perriello ’96, ’01JD, a new kind of congressman? Or just the kind who doesn’t get reelected?” Yale Alumni Magazine. May/June 2010. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20101202091048/http://yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2010_05/perriello4655.html
  19. Corn, David. “Are Swing District Dems Toast?” Mother Jones. September/October 2010. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/09/tom-perriello-2010-midterms/
  20. O’Connor, Patrick. “Climate vote threatens Dems’ careers.” Politico. July 3, 2009. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2009/07/climate-vote-threatens-dems-careers-024482
  21. Martz, Michael. “Robert Hurt says Tom Perriello voted “to give tax breaks to foreign companies creating jobs in China.” Politifact. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2010/oct/25/robert-hurt/robert-hurt-says-tom-perriello-voted-give-tax-brea/
  22. Cramer, Ruby and Kaczynski, Andrew. “Why Tom Perriello May Be Hard To Beat.” Buzzfeed. December 2, 2012. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/why-tom-perriello-may-be-hard-to-beat?utm_term=.tl6RZBKJ#.nhxboBXW
  23. McNeil, Brian. “Hurt unseats Perriello.” Daily Progress. November 2, 2010. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.dailyprogress.com/greenenews/news/hurt-unseats-perriello/article_4d3365e9-d163-5c7e-9975-94b64bf82a55.html
  24. Lizza, Ryan. “What Tom Perriello’s Loss in Virginia Can Teach Democrats.” New Yorker. June 30, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/news/ryan-lizza/what-tom-perriellos-loss-in-virginia-can-teach-democrats
  25. Brodwin, David. “Opinion: Americans Lose When Think Tanks Become Lobbyists.” U.S. News. Aug. 30, 2013. Accessed May 25, 2017. https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2013/08/30/heritage-foundation-center-for-american-progress-and-think-tanks-as-lobbyists
  26. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/press/statement/2013/11/21/79887/statement-tom-perriello-on-the-senates-move-to-reform-the-filibuster/
  27. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://thinkprogress.org/while-congress-stalls-on-immigration-activists-encourage-others-to-join-fast-for-reform-47c4b57507f0/
  28. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/197434-bipartisan-immigration-reform-is-possible-and-crucial#ixzz2sSqvw4k3
  29. “Interview with Tom Perriello.” Appalachian Voices. August 23, 2013. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://appvoices.org/2013/08/23/interview-with-tom-perriello/
  30. “Center For American Progress Action Fund: Lobbying Summary” Center For Responsive Politics. 2011-2013. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/firmsum.php?id=D000048441&year=2011
  31. “Center For American Progress Action Fund: Lobbying Summary” Center For Responsive Politics. 2011-2013. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/firmsum.php?id=D000048441&year=2011
  32. Kamen, Al. “Former Rep. Tom Perriello headed for the State Department.” The Washington Post. February 21, 2014. Accessed January 08, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/wp/2014/02/21/former-rep-tom-perriello-headed-for-the-state-department/?utm_term=.3bf3cb0f9cc3
  33. Grim, Ryan. “State Department Review To Emphasize Effects Of Climate Change On Global Conflict, Diplomacy.” February 21, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/21/tom-perriello_n_4827886.html
  34. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.c-span.org/video/?326276-3/washington-journal-tom-perriello-state-departments-quadrennial-diplomacy-development-review&start=654
  35. Drezner, Daniel. “Why the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review is depressing.” The Washington Post. April 30, 2015. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/30/why-the-quadrennial-diplomacy-and-development-review-depressed-the-hell-out-of-me/?utm_term=.83a075a6ad04
  36. Statement of Secretary of State John Kerry. “On the Appointment of Thomas Perriello as Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa.” U.S. Department of State. July 6, 2015. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20150713061642/https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/07/244620.htm
  37. Schneider, Elena. “Perriello shakes up Virginia governor’s race.” Politico. January 5, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-score/2017/01/perriello-shakes-up-virginia-governors-race-218078
  38. Zornick, George. “Tom Perriello Makes a Populist Stand.” The Nation. June 5-12, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/tom-perriello-makes-a-populist-stand/
  39. Lithwick, Dahlia. “Is Moving Left the Democrats’ Best Bet?” Slate. February 23, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/02/tom_perriello_wants_to_prove_that_the_party_s_best_bet_is_moving_left.html
  40. Butler, Ryan. “Sanders Champions Perriello, Progressive Values at Fairfax Rally.” The Loudon Tribune. April 7, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  https://www.loudountribune.com/bernie-sanders-democrat-governor-endorsement-tom-perriello-virginia-rally-fairfax/
  41. Zornick, George. “Tom Perriello Makes a Populist Stand.” The Nation. June 5-12, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/tom-perriello-makes-a-populist-stand/
  42. Butler, Ryan. “Sanders Champions Perriello, Progressive Values at Fairfax Rally.” The Loudon Tribune. April 7, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  https://www.loudountribune.com/bernie-sanders-democrat-governor-endorsement-tom-perriello-virginia-rally-fairfax/
  43. Zornick, George. “Tom Perriello Makes a Populist Stand.” The Nation. June 5-12, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/tom-perriello-makes-a-populist-stand/
  44. Zornick, George. “Tom Perriello Makes a Populist Stand.” The Nation. June 5-12, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/tom-perriello-makes-a-populist-stand/
  45. Stein, Jeff. “Tom Perriello and the rise of a national progressive establishment.” Vox. June 13, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/13/15682632/tom-perriello-democratic-establishment
  46. Accessed December 14, 2017.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/sen-bernie-sanders-endorses-tom-perriello-in-virginia-governors-race/2017/04/04/e25784ba-1565-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html?utm_term=.3da1bfda67a2
  47. Merod, Anna. “Va. candidate releases ad featuring Warren one week before primary.” The Hill. June 5, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/336368-warren-continues-support-of-anti-trump-dem-governor-candidate-in-latest-ad
  48. Debenedetti, Gabriel and Robillard, Kevin. “Obama team lines up behind Perriello.” Politico. March 22, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/obama-staff-tom-perriello-virginia-236367
  49. “Virginia Primary Results: Northam Will Face Gillespie in Governor’s Race.” June 14, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/virginia-primary-elections
  50. Schoffstall, Joe. “A Majority of Tom Perriello’s Campaign Funds Are Coming From Outside Virginia.” Washington Free Beacon.  April 26, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/politics/majority-tom-perriellos-campaign-funds-coming-outside-virginia/
  51. Scher, Brent. “George Soros Gives Additional $250k to Tom Perriello for Virginia Primary Bid.” June 6, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  http://freebeacon.com/politics/george-soros-gives-additional-250k-tom-perriello-virginia-primary-bid/
  52. Scher, Brent. “George Soros Gives Additional $250k to Tom Perriello for Virginia Primary Bid.” June 6, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.  http://freebeacon.com/politics/george-soros-gives-additional-250k-tom-perriello-virginia-primary-bid/
  53. Smith, Max. “Tom Perriello to lead PAC pushing Va. House Dems.” WTOP. June 29, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://wtop.com/virginia/2017/06/tom-perriello-lead-pac-pushing-va-house-dems/
  54. “New Leadership for Our U.S. Programs.” Open Society Foundations. October 10, 2018. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/press-releases/foundations-strengthen-work-promote-open-society-values-united-states?utm_campaign=osftwacct&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=t.co.

Connected Organizations

  1. Avaaz Foundation (Non-profit)
    Co-Founder
  2. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
    Former President (Action Fund)
  3. Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) (Non-profit)
    Former President
  4. Center for American Progress (CAP Action) Progress Report (Non-profit)
    Former President (CAP Action Fund)
  5. U.S. Department of State (Government Agency)
    Special Representative, 2014-2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review
  6. Open Society Foundations (OSF) (Non-profit)
    Executive Director, U.S. Programs
  7. ThinkProgress (ThinkProgress.com) (Non-profit)
    Former President (CAP Action Fund)
  8. Win Virginia (Political Party/527)
    Chief Executive Officer
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