Political Party/527

Campaign Money Watch

Location:

Washington, DC

Type:

527 Political Action Committee

Director:

David Donnelly

Project of::

Public Campaign Action Fund

Campaign Money Watch was a Democratic-aligned political action committee (PAC) funded by labor unions that attacked then-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during his 2008 campaign for the presidency. The group was a project of the Public Campaign Action Fund. [1] [2] In 2014, it merged with Friends of Democracy to form the nonprofit Every Voice. [3]

Background

Campaign Money Watch was a left-leaning “527 PAC” and a project of the Public Campaign Action Fund, a lobbying arm of Public Campaign. [4] [5] The organization characterized itself to the media and in press releases as a “nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving America’s campaign finance laws,” and as a “reform watchdog group.” [6] [7] The New York Times also called the PAC a “watchdog organization” in a news story. [8] However, the Center for Responsive Politics characterized Campaign Money Watch’s viewpoint as a “liberal” political action committee. [9]

The PAC’s major donors include the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a left-leaning public employee union that overwhelmingly supports candidates and committees affiliated with the Democratic Party, and the liberal activist group MoveOn.org. [10]

2008 Campaign Activity

Campaign Money Watch spent $2,488,961 on electioneering in 2008. [11] The organization spent $1,184,564.64 in an attempt to defeat Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY); $261,332.53 to help defeat then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK); and $131,552.64 to help defeat Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), during his campaign against then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), the Democratic presidential nominee. [12]

The PAC’s campaign against McConnell included $400,000 TV ad focusing on McConnell’s campaign contributions from drug companies, insurance companies, and Wall Street firms. [13] [14] The PAC also charged Stevens with taking money from the “insurance, health and drug interests” and asked, “Isn’t it time we stopped pay-to-play politics in Washington?” [15]

When targeting McCain in April 2008, the PAC claimed in an ad that the Arizona senator showed favoritism in helping European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (commonly known as “Airbus”) beat out U.S.-based Boeing for a $35 billion Department of Defense contract to build air refueling tankers. Campaign Money Watch also filed a complaint against McCain with the Federal Election Commission over the issue. [16] The center-left media outlet PolitiFact ranked the PAC’s ad against McCain “mostly false.” [17] In response to the ad, the Republican National Committee issued a press release highlighting that Campaign Money Watch was funded by wealthy Democratic Party donors, including George Soros. [18]

In an October 2008 ad, Campaign Money Watch focused on McCain’s campaign contributions from the gambling industry. [19]

Campaign Money Watch Director David Donnelly wrote a publicized letter to the McCain campaign in May 2008 calling for the campaign to fire advisors Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, and Peter Madigan, over their alleged lobbying for regimes that engaged in human rights abuses. [20]

AFSCME gave $1 million to Campaign Money Watch in 2008, and MoveOn.org gave $400,000 that same year. Colorado First gave $122,000. The Campaign to Defend America gave $50,000. [21] Major Democratic donor David Bonderman, a Texas billionaire, gave the group at least $75,000 in 2008. [22] Jerome Kohlberg, a billionaire founder of a private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., gave $130,000 to the PAC. The Communication Workers of America gave $30,000. [23]

2010 Campaign Activity

Campaign Money Watch spent $1,174,718 in the 2010 election. [24]

The organization spent $1,146,000.00 targeting the Senate campaign of then-prosecutor Ken Buck (R) in Colorado and $28,718.00 targeting Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA). [25] Campaign Money Watch aired a commercial alleging that Buck, when he worked for the U.S. Attorney’s office, allowed an illegal gun dealer to escape prosecution and that the gun dealer then donated to Buck’s campaign. It also aired a TV ad attack on Lungren in California. [26]

In 2010, the organization launched an effort to turn out voters aged 20 to 40 — with a focus on African Americans — in the midterm election. The $750,000 get-out-the-vote campaign targeted Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It featured Grammy-winning musician and former Haitian presidential candidate Wyclef Jean’s song “Election Time.” [27]

Every Voice Merger

In 2014, the Public Campaign Action Fund merged with Friends of Democracy to form Every Voice. Donors to Every Voice have included George Soros’ son Jonathan Soros, Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and his husband Sean Eldridge. [28]

Nick Nyhart co-founded Public Campaign in 1997. Jonathan Soros started the Friends of Democracy super PAC in 2012. [29]

David Donnelly was the director of Campaign Money Watch. [30] Donnelly later became the president and CEO of Every Voice [31] and the treasurer of its super PAC, Every Voice Action. [32]

References

  1. Campaign Money Watch. PolitiFact. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.politifact.com/personalities/campaign-money-watch/ ^
  2. Press Release. “Campaign Money Watch Launches ‘They Win. U Lose.’ Campaign.” October 26, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/campaign-money-watch-launches-they-win-u-lose-campaign-105763363.html ^
  3. Vielkind, Jimmy. “Soros-backed group endorses Teachout’s bid for Congress.” Politico. October 7, 2016. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2016/10/soros-backed-group-endorses-zephyr-teachout-106173 ^
  4. Campaign Money Watch. PolitiFact. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.politifact.com/personalities/campaign-money-watch/ ^
  5. Press Release. “Campaign Money Watch Launches ‘They Win. U Lose.’ Campaign.” October 26, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/campaign-money-watch-launches-they-win-u-lose-campaign-105763363.html ^
  6. “Letter, Press Release from Campaign Money Watch, a project of Public Campaign Action Fund.” To Richard Davis, John McCain 2008. May 16, 2008. Accessed April 15, 2021. http://p2008.org/interestg08/campaignmoneyw0508.html ^
  7. Morain, Dan. “Organized labor provides the money behind one of John McCain’s toughest critics.” Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2008. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/10/organized-labor.html ^
  8. Rohter, Larry. “Obama, in New Stand, Proposes Use of Oil Reserve.” The New York Times. August 5, 2008. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/05/us/politics/05campaign.html ^
  9. Campaign Money Watch. Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org). Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte=C30000160&cycle=2010 ^
  10. Campaign Money Watch. Open Secrets. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib.php?cmte=C30000160&cycle=2008 ^
  11. Campaign Money Watch. Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org). Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib.php?cmte=C30000160&cycle=2008 ^
  12. Campaign Money Watch. Federal Election Commission. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C30000160/?tab=spending&cycle=2008 ^
  13. Morain, Dan. “Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell faces new attack from ‘nonpartisan’ group.” Los Angeles Times. October 24, 2008. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/10/campaign-money.html ^
  14. Clout.” Campaign Money Watch. YouTube. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSYV7uIp4LI ^
  15. Evans Will. “AK Senator Accused Of “Pay-To-Play Politics.” NPR. September 15, 2008. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/secretmoney/2008/09/ak_senator_accused_of_paytopla.html ^
  16. Jacoby, Mary. “McCain Faces Challenge Over Campaign Links to Lobbyists.” The Wall Street Journal. June 10, 2008. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121305682775559307 ^
  17. Farley, Robert. “John McCain intervened, which helped Airbus get that Pentagon contract.” PolitiFact. July 31, 2008. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2008/jul/31/campaign-money-watch/letters-dont-amount-to-intervening/ ^
  18. Jacoby, Mary. “McCain Faces Challenge Over Campaign Links to Lobbyists.” The Wall Street Journal. June 10, 2008. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121305682775559307 ^
  19. Evans, Will. “MoveOn Money Behind The Curtain.” NPR. October 27, 2008. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/secretmoney/2008/10/moveon.html ^
  20. “Letter, Press Release from Campaign Money Watch, a project of Public Campaign Action Fund.” To Richard Davis, John McCain 2008. May 16, 2008. Accessed April 15, 2021. http://p2008.org/interestg08/campaignmoneyw0508.html ^
  21. Campaign Money Watch. Open Secrets. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib.php?cmte=C30000160&cycle=2008 ^
  22. Morain, Dan. “Organized labor provides the money behind one of John McCain’s toughest critics.” Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2008. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/10/organized-labor.html ^
  23. Morain, Dan. “Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell faces new attack from ‘nonpartisan’ group.” Los Angeles Times. October 24, 2008. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/10/campaign-money.html ^
  24. Campaign Money Watch. Open Secrets. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cycle=2010&cmte=C30000160 ^
  25. [1] Campaign Money Watch. Federal Election Commission. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C30000160/?tab=spending&cycle=2010 ^
  26. Mehta, Aaron and Israel, Josh. “Campaign Money Watch Takes Aim at Ken Buck’s Loaded History.” Center for Pubic Integrity. October 15, 2010. Accessed April 22, 2021. https://publicintegrity.org/politics/campaign-moneywatch-takes-aim-at-ken-bucks-loaded-history/ ^
  27. Press Release. “Campaign Money Watch Launches ‘They Win. U Lose.’ Campaign.” October 26, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/campaign-money-watch-launches-they-win-u-lose-campaign-105763363.html ^
  28. Vielkind, Jimmy. “Soros-backed group endorses Teachout’s bid for Congress.” Politico. October 7, 2016. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2016/10/soros-backed-group-endorses-zephyr-teachout-106173 ^
  29. “Arena Profile: Nick Nyhart.” The Arena: – Nick Nyhart Bio. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.politico.com/arena/bio/nick_nyhart.html ^
  30. Press Release. “Campaign Money Watch Launches ‘They Win. U Lose.’ Campaign.” October 26, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/campaign-money-watch-launches-they-win-u-lose-campaign-105763363.html ^
  31. “About Us.” Every Voice. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://everyvoice.org/about-us. ^
  32. “EVERY VOICE ACTION – Committee Overview.” FEC.gov. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00566208/?tab=about-committee. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Patricia Stryker
    Board Member
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Campaign Money Watch

1133 19th Street NW
9th Floor
Washington, DC