Political Party/527

America Coming Together (ACT)

Logo for America Coming Together (link)
Tax ID:

20-0094706

Tax-Exempt Status:

527

Formation:

2003

Type:

Democratic Party Political Action Committee

Committee Designation:

Unauthorized

Status:

Defunct (since 2005)

PAC Treasurer:

Carl Pope

Receipts:

$137,332,875 (2003-2004)

Disbursements:

$132,064,515 (2003-2004)

America Coming Together (ACT) was a liberal political action committee founded in 2003 dedicated to preventing President George W. Bush from being re-elected in 2004. Billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, Progressive Insurance executive Peter Lewis, and a number of left-of-center organizations joined to form ACT and the Media Fund; Soros and Lewis provided $40 million to ACT and its sister group. [1] Steve Rosenthal, a former AFL-CIO political director, co-founded and served as CEO of ACT. [2]

ACT ceased operations in 2005, despite its popularity among Democratic donors and activists. [3] It technically remained open for years due to a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) investigation and later a lawsuit from perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Background

Former AFL-CIO political director Steve Rosenthal and EMILY’s List’s Ellen Malcolm co-founded America Coming Together in 2004. In a presentation to liberal donors, the pair proposed “a massive voter contact program . . . to defeat George W. Bush.” Rosenthal became the organization’s CEO. [4]

America Coming Together included a number of top liberal activist groups, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and America Votes. Cecile Richards, then-head of America Votes and later president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, served as an executive of ACT. [5] Her aligned America Votes coalition included “the AFL-CIO, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, the League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, and the American Federation of Teachers.” [6]

FEC Action

ACT was one of a number of liberal political action committees which according to the Washington Post “outspent their GOP competitors $320 million to $109 million,” in the 2004 election cycle Congressional Republicans in the House and Senate passed regulations to more tightly control 527 groups like ACT, but differences between the bills were never reconciled and no regulations became law. [7]Six Federal Election Commission commissioners voted in 2006 that 4-2 against further regulation of 527 political action committees. Two Republican commissioners voted in favor of greater oversight and regulations; three Democrats and one Republican opposed the regulations. [8]

In 2007, the FEC fined ACT $775,000 for spending outside federal restrictions. The fine was the third-largest in the FEC’s history to that date. [9]

 “For most of the 2004 election cycle, ACT used an allocation ratio of 2 percent federal funds and 98 percent non-federal funds for its administrative expenses and generic voter drives,” the FEC stated in a public release. “ACT was required to use a substantially higher proportion of federal funds than that reflected in either the estimated or adjusted funds expended allocation ratio for administrative expenses used by ACT in 2003-2004.” [10]

The Hill quoted former FEC Chairman Michael Toner: “All told, the agency has imposed more than a million dollars in fines against 527 groups based on their activities in the 2004 election.” [11]

Finances and Status

ACT raised $137 million from activist groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, labor unions such as the Service Employees International Union, Hollywood figures, and left-wing mega-donors including George Soros, who contributed $20 million. After ACT failed to elect Democrat John Kerry in 2004, Soros and other donors withdrew their financial support. [12]

FEC reports show that between July 17, 2003 and December 31, 2004, ACT received $137,332,875.77 and spent $33,416,814.59. Between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2006, the group received $11,062,380.26 and contributed $1,361,695.02. [13] [14]

As of January 22, 2019, the FEC reported on its website that ACT owed $1,035,161.23 in debt/loans. There were 68,764 donations made to ACT from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2004, according to the FEC website.

The Center for Public Integrity reported in 2010 that ACT was still open despite engaging in no political activity. CPI reported that ACT could not close until the original FEC investigation and a subsequent lawsuit by former presidential candidate Ralph Nader were complete. [15]

References

  1. Alexander Bolton, “FEC Fines America Coming Together”; August 29, 2007. https://thehill.com/homenews/news/12874-fec-fines-america-coming-together-775000
  2. Tell, David. “Who’s Afraid of George Soros?” The Weekly Standard. February 29, 2004. Accessed January 28, 2019. https://www.weeklystandard.com/david-tell/whos-afraid-of-george-soros.
  3. Thomas Edsall, “Soros-Backed Activist Group Disbands As Interest Fades”; August 3, 2005. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201849.html
  4. Quoted in Tell, David. “Who’s Afraid of George Soros?” The Weekly Standard. February 29, 2004. Accessed January 28, 2019. https://www.weeklystandard.com/david-tell/whos-afraid-of-george-soros.
  5. Tell, David. “Who’s Afraid of George Soros?” The Weekly Standard. February 29, 2004. Accessed January 28, 2019. https://www.weeklystandard.com/david-tell/whos-afraid-of-george-soros.
  6. S.C. Gwynne, “The Daughter Also Rises”; August 2004. https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/the-daughter-also-rises/
  7. S. 2349 – 527 Reform Act of 2006. https://www.congress.gov/bill/109th-congress/senate-bill/2349/all-actions-without-amendments
  8. Thomas Edsall, “FEC Adopts Hands-Off Stance on ‘527’ Spending”; June 1, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/31/AR2006053101999.html
  9. David D. Kirkpatrick, “Group Fined by F.E.C. for Campaign Violations”; August 30, 2007. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/30/washington/30donate.html
  10. Quoted in Alexander Bolton, “FEC fines America Coming Together $775,000”; August 29, 2007. https://thehill.com/homenews/news/12874-fec-fines-america-coming-together-775000
  11. Quoted in Alexander Bolton, “FEC fines America Coming Together $775,000”; August 29, 2007. https://thehill.com/homenews/news/12874-fec-fines-america-coming-together-775000
  12. Byron York, “America Coming Together Comes Apart”; August 3, 2005. https://www.nationalreview.com/2005/08/america-coming-together-comes-apart-byron-york/
  13. FEC, “America Coming Together Financial Summary”; https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00388876/?cycle=2006
  14. FEC, “America Coming Together Financial Summary”; https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00388876/?cycle=2004
  15. Aaron Mehta, Josh Israel “Though inactive since 2005, FEC complaints have kept America Coming Together’s Doors Open”; September 28, 2010.https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/though-inactive-since-2005-fec-complaints-have-kept-america-coming-togethers-doors-open/

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Cecile Richards
    Co-Founder and Former Executive
  2. Carl Pope
    PAC Treasurer
  3. Andy Stern
    Co-Founder
  4. Harold Ickes
    Co-Founder
  5. Rob McKay
    Board Member
  6. Patrick Gaspard
    Former National Field Director
  7. Anne Bartley
    Co-Founder
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