End Citizens United (ECU) is a Democratic-aligned political action committee (PAC) founded by three former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) staffers in 2015. The PAC endorses political candidates who promise to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
ECU adopts a heavily criticized ‘churn and burn’ email marketing strategy for its fundraising schemes. This led to the PAC raising $11 million in its first year. Some of ECU’s allies have criticized ECU’s fundraising strategies.
The PAC endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. During the 2016 election cycle, ECU contributed $50,000 to Clinton, $90,000 to the DCCC, and spent nearly $11 million against Republicans.
In 2015, Greg Berlin, a former digital campaign director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC); Charles Starnes, former deputy digital director of the DCCC; and ex-congressional staffer Jake Lipsett founded End Citizens United, a political action committee (PAC) that endorses Democratic Party candidates who support the overturning of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
End Citizens United (ECU) began its fundraising drive almost immediately upon its creation in 2015, sending as many as seven emails per day to potential donors. The DCCC created this ‘churn and burn’ strategy in 2014, and Mothership Strategies, a liberal Democratic-aligned digital strategy firm created by Berlin, Starnes, and Lipsett in 2014, adopted it.
ECU used this email strategy to persuade individuals to “rush a donation” to “restore our Democracy.” Within its first year, ECU had raised $11 million and spent $6.3 million. End Citizens United spent around 65% of the $6.3 million on consultancy fees and other expenses including $1.7 million to rent email lists from organizations such as Ready for Hillary PAC, Care2, and media outlets like the Nation. End Citizens United also spent $1.2 million on the services of Rising Tide interactive and $500,000 on services provided by Mothership Strategies.
For its first endorsements, ECU used a questionnaire to decide what candidates from the Democratic Party it advocated. Five of the 11 candidates chosen were clients of Mothership Strategies.
2016 Presidential Election
End Citizens United endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The PAC explains in a press release that it endorsed Clinton because of her “aggressive plan to reform our campaign finance system and end the corrupting influence of unlimited, anonymous spending in our elections.” During the 2016 election cycle, ECU contributed $50,000 to the Hillary Action Fund and $90,000 to the DCCC in PAC to PAC payments, while also spending just under $11 million in independent expenditures, communication costs, and coordinated expenses against the Republicans.
2018 Midterm Election
ECU contributed $135,000 to the DCCC during the 2018 election cycle and donated $1 million to Democratic Party candidates including $650,000 to Jason Crow (D-Colorado). ECU also spent $2.1 million against Republican candidates including $1.7 million against Matt Rosendale (R-Montana).
ECU has multiple critics among other liberals supporting restrictions on campaign speech. Move to Amend, a non-profit coalition that supports reversing Citizens United v. FEC denounced ECU on its website.
End Citizens United created the End Citizens United Action Network in 2017. The Action Network is an online forum for individuals and groups to use to organize events, petitions, and fundraising drives for “progressive causes.”
End Citizens United works closely with Mothership Strategies, the Democratic-aligned digital strategy firm created by ECU’s founders. End Citizens United is reportedly Motherships largest non-candidate client. During the 2016 election cycle, ECU paid Mothership Strategies $3.3 million; the PAC paid the firm another $2.7 million for its services in the 2018 mid-term election cycle.