Political Party/527

MeidasTouch (Democracy Defense Action)

Website:

www.meidastouch.com/

Location:

Washington, DC

Type:

Super PAC

Formation:

2020

Editor-in-Chief:

Ron Filipkowski

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

MeidasTouch (also known as the MeidasTouch Network, but officially known as Democracy Defense Action) is a Super PAC founded in 2020 devoted to opposing then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans. The organization, founded by three brothers initially as a blog, produces online videos intended to mock former President Trump and his supporters, though it also produces less viewed pro-Democratic content. MeidasTouch describes itself as “unapologetically pro-democracy.” 1

MeidasTouch has been criticized for using bad strategies in its ad campaigns and for having a lack of financial transparency. 2

Leadership

MeidasTouch was founded by brothers Ben, Brett, and Jordy Meiselas during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown period. They sought to close a perceived quality gap between the online advertisements and memes produced by supporters of President Donald Trump and Democratic commenters. Brett Meiselas has called supporters of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign “content kings.” 3 4 5

Ben Meiselas is a partner at the law firm Geragos and Geragos and general counsel for Know Your Rights Camp, a left-wing educational group founded by former NFL player Colin Kaepernick (Ben is also described as Kaepernick’s “business partner”). Ben has owned Los Angeles Magazine since January 2023. In the mid-2000s, Ben briefly worked for then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Earlier, he worked as a summer intern and assistant to Sean Combs (also known as Puff Daddy or P. Diddy, among other stage names) for four years at Bad Boy Entertainment. 67

Brett Meiselas is the creative executive of Cube Vision, a television and film production company. From 2013 to 2018, Mieselas worked on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” ending as head of post-production, for which Brett won two Emmys. Earlier, Mieselas was a music and television producer for a variety of projects and artists, including the rapper Chamillionaire. 8 9 Brett has credited his work on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” for his skilled video and production at MeidasTouch; prior to starting the organization, he had never made a political ad. 10

Jordy Meiselas is a marketing expert who is the head of head of brand and sponsorship procurement at MeidasTouch. 11

History

MeidasTouch initially started as a political blog written by Ben, Brett, and Jordy Meiselas. They quickly expanded their scope to media aggregation and then video production. As their early work found success, in mid-May, the blog transformed into a Super PAC. The day after registering with the U.S. Federal Election Commission, one of the Meiselas brothers registered a MeidasTouch LLC in California to own intellectual property associated with the MediasTouch brand. 12 13

MeidasTouch came to national attention in April 2020 when Brett Meiselas Tweeted a video produced by the organization to George Conway, an outspoken opponent of then-President Donald Trump who was also married to then-Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway. George Conway shared the video and it quickly gained 1 million views. 14

MeidasTouch gained further attention in July with the publication of its “Creepy Trump” video on YouTube. The video showed Kellyanne Conway criticizing then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for allegedly making “a lot of really creepy statements” over the years regarding women. Then the video displays a series of clips of then-President Donald Trump making creepy statements, such as asserting that he would date his own daughter if she wasn’t his daughter. The video earned 6.3 million views within two weeks. Similar videos targeting Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump attracted a combined 14 million views. MeidasTouch also made pro-Biden videos, though they received fewer views. 15

Soon after publishing the video, MeidasTouch announced a “five figure ad buy” to air the video on television. 16 It ultimately spent $80,000. 17

By July 2020, MeidasTouch had earned $300,000 in contributions. 18

MeidasTouch launched a podcast featuring guests including U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Mary Trump, President Trump’s estranged niece. 19

By April 2021, MeidasTouch claimed to have generated over 1 billion video views for over 500 video ads. 20

At some point in 2023, MeidasTouch renamed itself to Democracy Defense Action. 21

Financials

As of May 2024, MeidasTouch had raised $530,000 in the 2024 election cycle and spent $734,000. 22

In the 2022 election cycle, MeidasTouch raised $2.7 million and spent almost $3 million. 23

In the 2020 election cycle, MeidasTouch raised $4.7 million and spent $4.3 million. 24

Criticism

In April 2021, Rolling Stone published a critical in-depth analysis of MeidasTouch. According to the article, the Meiselas presented MeidasTouch as an unprecedentedly innovative and transparent Super PAC but failed to live up to their promises despite “grandiose self-promotion.” Some experienced Democratic strategists considered their 2020 election cycle strategy “nonsensical and a more effective tool for fundraising than for helping Democrats win elections.” The organization also allegedly maintained opaque accounting standards. 25

In August 2020, MeidasTouch announced that it was giving half of all future contributions to Joe Biden‘s presidential campaign. According to Rolling Stone, MeidasTouch never followed through on this promise, and doing so would have violated campaign finance laws. Instead, MeidasTouch simply directed donors to give half of their intended donations to the Biden campaign. Of the $31,623 donated after the announcement, the Biden campaign received less than $2,000. 26

According to the article, many of MediasTouch’s television ad buys fell well short of expected views, mostly due to their limited showings. One media consultant described the ad buys as “pissing in the wind.” MeidasTouch responded to this criticism by claiming that traditional television advertising metrics were outdated in the modern world and that the limited reach of their ad buys maximized the efficiency of their limited funds. 27

When prompted by Rolling Stone to explain some of its spending, MeidasTouch embarked on what the magazine called a “misinformation campaign full of bizarre conspiracy theories and online vitriol” that included threatening to sue the magazine. 28

References

  1. “Will you support MeidasTouch Network’s journalism?” MeidasTouch. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.growmeidas.com/.
  2. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
  3. “About Us.” MeidasTouch. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.meidastouch.com/page/about-us.
  4. Krieg, Gregory; Nobles, Ryan. “Three brothers are behind a series of viral videos trolling Trump.” CNN Business. July 21, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/politics/meidastouch-trump-videos/index.html.
  5. Krieg, Gregory; Nobles, Ryan. “Three brothers are behind a series of viral videos trolling Trump.” CNN Business. July 21, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/politics/meidastouch-trump-videos/index.html.
  6. [1] “Ben Meiselas.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-meiselas-5751a621/.
  7. “About Us.” MeidasTouch. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.meidastouch.com/page/about-us.
  8. “Brett Mieslas.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/meiselas/.
  9. “About Us.” MeidasTouch. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.meidastouch.com/page/about-us.
  10. Griner, David. “With MeidasTouch, 3 Brothers Are Creating Visceral Ads by Using Trump’s Words Against Him.” AdWeek. June 1, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.adweek.com/convergent-tv/with-meidastouch-3-brothers-are-creating-visceral-ads-by-using-trumps-words-against-him/.
  11. “About Us.” MeidasTouch. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.meidastouch.com/page/about-us.
  12. Griner, David. “With MeidasTouch, 3 Brothers Are Creating Visceral Ads by Using Trump’s Words Against Him.” AdWeek. June 1, 2020. Accessed April 30, 2024. https://www.adweek.com/convergent-tv/with-meidastouch-3-brothers-are-creating-visceral-ads-by-using-trumps-words-against-him/.
  13. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
  14. Krieg, Gregory; Nobles, Ryan. “Three brothers are behind a series of viral videos trolling Trump.” CNN Business. July 21, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/politics/meidastouch-trump-videos/index.html.
  15. Krieg, Gregory; Nobles, Ryan. “Three brothers are behind a series of viral videos trolling Trump.” CNN Business. July 21, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/politics/meidastouch-trump-videos/index.html.
  16. Krieg, Gregory; Nobles, Ryan. “Three brothers are behind a series of viral videos trolling Trump.” CNN Business. July 21, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/politics/meidastouch-trump-videos/index.html.
  17. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
  18. Krieg, Gregory; Nobles, Ryan. “Three brothers are behind a series of viral videos trolling Trump.” CNN Business. July 21, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/21/politics/meidastouch-trump-videos/index.html.
  19. [1] Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/
  20. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
  21. [1] “Rob Pyers.” Twitter. February 1, 2024. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://twitter.com/rpyers/status/1752904811731947750
  22. “PAC Profile: Democracy Defense Action.” Open Secrets. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/democracy-defense-action/C00746073/summary/2024.
  23. “PAC Profile: Democracy Defense Action.” Open Secrets. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/democracy-defense-action/C00746073/summary/2024.
  24. [1] “PAC Profile: Democracy Defense Action.” Open Secrets. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/democracy-defense-action/C00746073/summary/2024.
  25. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
  26. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/
  27. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
  28. Hettena, Seth. “The Trouble With MeidasTouch.” Rolling Stone. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meidastouch-2020-campaign-finance-trump-1152482/.
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MeidasTouch (Democracy Defense Action)


Washington, DC