MoveOn Political Action, which jointly operates MoveOn.org with its associated 501(c)(4) organization MoveOn Civic Action, describes itself as “the largest independent, progressive, digitally-connected organizing group in the United States.” MoveOn Political Action gathers donations from its members, from entertainment events, and from outside donors like George Soros, which it uses to support left-wing causes and candidates. MoveOn supports almost exclusively the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, most notably U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
Originally founded as one entity, MoveOn eventually split into two associated organizations for tax reasons: MoveOn Civic Action, the group’s 501(c)(4), and MoveOn Political Action, the group’s candidate-supporting Political Action Committee (PAC).
MoveOn.org Political Action is a “federal PAC focused on running powerful progressive advocacy campaigns and demonstrating MoveOn members’ power at the ballot box by electing candidates who reflect MoveOn members’ values.” MoveOn almost exclusively supports the more radical fringe of the Democratic Party.
In the 2016 national election, all of the $150,219 MoveOn donated to candidates went to Democrats. MoveOn donated $10,297 to Bernie Sanders as well as between $5,000 to $12,000 to progressive House candidates:
- Keith Ellison (Minnesota)
- Lucy Flores (Nevada)
- Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)
- Raul Grijalva (Arizona)
- Mike Honda (California)
- Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.)
- Rick Nolan (Minnesota)
- Mark Pocan (Wisconsin)
- Zephyr Teachout (N.Y.)
- Peter Welch (Vermont)
MoveOn also donated to liberal U.S. Senate candidates:
- Michael Bennet (Colorado)
- Tammy Duckworth (Illinois)
- Russ Feingold (Wisconsin)
- Kamala Harris (California)
- Patty Judge (Iowa)
- Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona)
- Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada)
- Katie McGinty (Pennsylvania)
- Deborah Ross (N.C.)
- Ted Strickland (Ohio)
In the 2016 cycle, MoveOn contributed $221,250 to Good Jobs & Strong Communities PAC, $25,000 to Common Defense PAC, and $5,000 to Everybody Counts Everybody Matters PAC. Overall in the 2016 cycle, MoveOn spent $680,427 for Democrats and $205,597 against Republicans, according to Open Secrets.
MoveOn spent even more in 2012, donating all of its $701,634 in political giving that year to Democrats, including bundling over $200,000 for the re-election of President Barack Obama, and donating $141,467 to then-Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), $86,362 to then-Senate candidate Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), and $318,977 to then-Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). MoveOn mobilized an estimated one million volunteers to work on then-Senator Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
MoveOn Political Action also runs the MoveOn online store. Recent items for sale include Senator Elizabeth Warren’s book “This is Our Fight,” a pro-Black Lives Matter t-shirt, as well as anti-Trump “resist” paraphernalia.
Major Past Projects
MoveOn has engaged in large-scale electoral and left-wing organizing efforts since its first petition in 1998. Below are a few of the organization’s major electoral actions:
- The “Bush in 30 Seconds” ad contest gathered 1,000 anti-Bush ad submissions from MoveOn members in 2004, with the winning ad eventually airing on CNN.
- The “Vote for Change” concert series in 2004, featuring artists from Bruce Springsteen to Pearl Jam, helped register and turn out left-wing voters.
- The 2006 “Caught Red Handed” campaign targeted Republican House members for allegedly kowtowing to special interests at the expense of their constituents.
- The “Bush-McCain Challenge” quiz designed to tie 2008 Republican Presidential contender John McCain to outgoing President George W. Bush.
- MoveOn staged a 2008 phone-banking effort to mobilize voters to elect Barack Obama in 2008.
- In 2012, MoveOn ran the controversial “Vote Score” project, an effort to boost turnout for left-wing candidates up and down ballot using sexually suggestive advertisements about voters “scoring” for their first time with Democratic Presidential candidates.
- Beginning in 2014, MoveOn launched the “Run Warren Run” campaign in an attempt to get liberal U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for President in 2016.
MoveOn Political Action receives hundreds of multi-thousand and even million dollar donations for its political advocacy. The vast majority of these donors hail from the coastal states, particularly California and New York.
A small sampling of MoveOn Political Action’s top donors in the 2016 election cycle include:
- Dustin Moskovitz ($1.25 million)
- Cari Tuna ($1.25 million)
- Jeremy Mindich ($300,000)
- Sandor Straus ($25,000)
- Marjorie Roswell ($45,000)
MoveOn also received contributions to its PAC from other political organizations. In the 2016 cycle, MoveOn received $250,000 from For Our Future, $150,000 from NextGen Climate Action, $3,000 from the Working Families Party New York Committee, and $56 from Not Who We Are PAC.
MoveOn has no central headquarters, and many employees work electronically from locations around the United States.
Ilya Sheyman is the executive director of MoveOn Political Action. Sheyman ran in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 10th district in 2012, losing the race to Brad Schneider even after being endorsed by MoveOn, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and former Vermont governor Howard Dean (D). Before running for Congress, Sheyman was a mobilization director for MoveOn and a field director at Democracy for America, a PAC founded by Howard Dean.
Karine Jean-Pierre is the national spokesperson for MoveOn Political Action and former deputy campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s unsuccessful Democratic primary Presidential campaign. She also served as the southern political director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and as director of political strategy for battleground states in President Obama’s 2012 campaign. Jean-Pierre was formerly a campaign manager for the ACLU’s pro-abortion Reproductive Freedom Initiative, and managed the New York City public advocate campaign of left-wing radical Letitia James (D).