Political Party/527

Powered by People

FEC Committee ID:

C00731042

Website:

https://poweredxpeople.org/

Location:

El Paso, Texas

Status:

527

Type:

Political Action Committee

Founded:

2019

Founder:

Beto O’Rourke

Powered by People is a left-of-center political action committee (PAC) founded by Democratic politician Beto O’Rourke focused on identifying and contacting “likely Texas Democrats” and helping them register to vote. It began by calling for volunteers to go door-to-door on voting drives for Democratic Party candidates in an attempt to flip the Texas House of Representatives, flip six Congressional seats, and unseat U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in the 2020 elections. [1] [2]

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) issued a warning to Powered by People in April 2021 due to the PAC’s practice of “soliciting sensitive personal and protected health information from senior and non-English-speaking Texans.” [3]

Founding

Powered by People, sometimes abbreviated PXP, is a Texas-based left-of-center PAC founded in December 2019 by Democratic politician and former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. The PAC mostly focuses on identifying and contacting “likely Texas Democrats” and helping them register to vote. [4]

The PAC began as a way to persuade Texas citizens to volunteer for door-to-door voting drives for Democratic Party candidates to flip the Texas House of Representatives from a Republican Party majority to a Democratic Party majority, to flip six Congressional seats, and to unseat U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in the 2020 elections. One month after its inception, Powered by People reportedly organized 1,100 volunteers to knock on the doors of 41,000 houses in the lead up to the failed special election campaign of Democratic Party candidate Elizabeth Markowitz. [5] [6]

Powered by People gained notoriety in 2020 for providing volunteers at understaffed Texas food banks, reportedly facilitating more than 14,000 volunteer hours. [7]

Funding

Powered by People is registered as a “hybrid PAC,” meaning that it holds two accounts, one similar to a traditional PAC that limits individual donations to $5,000 a year and makes contributions to candidates’ committees, and one similar to a super PAC which is allowed to raise an unlimited amount of money that it spends itself on advocacy not coordinated with candidates or their campaigns. [8]

In an interview with the Texas Tribune just after the creation of Powered by People, O’Rourke claimed that the PAC would impose restrictions on itself including refusing money from corporations and labor organizations, refuse unlimited individual contributions, and will cap individual donations to $5,000 per year across both bank accounts. [9]

Powered by People raised a total of $3,951,085 and spent a total of $3,703,648 in the 2020 election cycle. The PAC received the majority of its money, $2,993,719, from individual contributions, the largest being $50,000. Of its expenses, Powered by People spent $1,699,000 on website advertising and media consulting, $1,017,643 on campaign expenses, and $296,648 on salaries. [10]

Powered by People also received contributions from other PACs and party committees including $10,000 from the Democratic Party of Texas, $3,522 from Gandhi for Texas, $2,312 from Biden for President, $1,000 from Huffman for Congress, and $400 from Veronica Escobar for Congress. Powered by People contributed $88,000 to the Texas Organizing Project, a left-leaning 501(c)(4) nonprofit group that focuses on organizing minority and low-income individuals in Texas’s largest metropolitan areas. [11]

Powered by People, as of September 2021, received $1,794,804 in total contributions for the 2022 election cycle and spent a total of $2,299,105. The majority of the contributions received came from individual donations, with the largest being $30,000, but it also received $25,000 from Let America Vote, a left-of-center PAC that presents itself as a voting rights organization that seeks to defeat politicians hostile to left-of-center voting rights priorities. [12]

Powered by People contributed $133,263 in the 2020 election cycle, and $98,011 in the 2022 election cycle, as of September 2021, to ActBlue Technical Services. ActBlue is a 527 political action committee created to act as “the online clearinghouse for Democratic action,” that, according to its website, has helped raise over $9 billion for its clients since 2004. [13] [14] [15] [16]

Political Activities

Powered by People started the “Drive-to-You” voter registration program in 2021. The program which started in El Paso, Parker, Tarrant, Harris, Webb, and Wise Counties, would allow people to contact Powered by People volunteers and schedule an at-home appointment to get assistance registering to vote. While announcing this new registration program, O’Rourke claimed that Republican Party members in Texas were “subverting democracy” and trying to “restrict the rights of Texans,” inferring that the Republican Party was practicing “voter suppression.” [17]

Powered by People assisted Texas Democratic Party lawmakers fleeing the state to prevent the passing of a GOP-backed election reform bill in July 2021. More than 50 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled to Washington, D.C., on a private jet to deny the chamber of the minimum number of lawmakers needed to continue legislative business in the House. Powered by People raised more than $525,000 to fund lodging, food, travel, and other expenses for the lawmakers. [18] [19]

Criticism

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) issued a warning to Powered by People in April 2021. Paxton wrote a letter to Gwendolyn Pulido, the treasurer of Powered by People, noting the PAC had been contacting Texans about the COVID-19 vaccine. Paxton notes that during door-to-door interactions and phone calls, Powered by People appeared to “have been soliciting sensitive personal and protected health information from senior and non-English-speaking Texans,” adding that this type of “conduct may be illegal.” [20]

References

  1. Signal Staff https://texassignal.com/author/tariq/, “Beto O’Rourke’s ‘Powered by People’ Is an Organizing Powerhouse,” Texas Signal, July 13, 2021, https://texassignal.com/beto-orourkes-powered-by-people-is-an-organizing-powerhouse/. ^
  2. Patrick Svitek, “Beto O’Rourke UNVEILS PAC with Focus on BOOSTING Texas Democrats in 2020,” The Texas Tribune (The Texas Tribune, December 20, 2019), https://www.texastribune.org/2019/12/20/beto-orourke-launches-pac-focused-texas-2020-elections/. ^
  3. “AG Pax­Ton Warns Beto O’Rourke PAC Against Unlaw­Ful Col­Lec­Tion of Tex­Ans’ Per­Son­Al Data,” texasattorneygeneral.gov, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/ag-paxton-warns-beto-orourke-pac-against-unlawful-collection-texans-personal-data. ^
  4. Signal Staff https://texassignal.com/author/tariq/, “Beto O’Rourke’s ‘Powered by People’ Is an Organizing Powerhouse,” Texas Signal, July 13, 2021, https://texassignal.com/beto-orourkes-powered-by-people-is-an-organizing-powerhouse/. ^
  5. Signal Staff https://texassignal.com/author/tariq/, “Beto O’Rourke’s ‘Powered by People’ Is an Organizing Powerhouse,” Texas Signal, July 13, 2021, https://texassignal.com/beto-orourkes-powered-by-people-is-an-organizing-powerhouse/. ^
  6. Patrick Svitek, “Beto O’Rourke UNVEILS PAC with Focus on BOOSTING Texas Democrats in 2020,” The Texas Tribune (The Texas Tribune, December 20, 2019), https://www.texastribune.org/2019/12/20/beto-orourke-launches-pac-focused-texas-2020-elections/. ^
  7. Signal Staff https://texassignal.com/author/tariq/, “Beto O’Rourke’s ‘Powered by People’ Is an Organizing Powerhouse,” Texas Signal, July 13, 2021, https://texassignal.com/beto-orourkes-powered-by-people-is-an-organizing-powerhouse/. ^
  8. Patrick Svitek, “Beto O’Rourke UNVEILS PAC with Focus on BOOSTING Texas Democrats in 2020,” The Texas Tribune (The Texas Tribune, December 20, 2019), https://www.texastribune.org/2019/12/20/beto-orourke-launches-pac-focused-texas-2020-elections/. ^
  9. Patrick Svitek, “Beto O’Rourke UNVEILS PAC with Focus on BOOSTING Texas Democrats in 2020,” The Texas Tribune (The Texas Tribune, December 20, 2019), https://www.texastribune.org/2019/12/20/beto-orourke-launches-pac-focused-texas-2020-elections/. ^
  10. “Pac Profile: Powered by People,” OpenSecrets, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/powered-by-people/C00731042/summary/2020. ^
  11. “Powered by People Pac to Pac/Party,” OpenSecrets, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/powered-by-people/C00731042/pac-to-pac/2020. ^
  12. “Powered by People – Texas PAC,” Transparency USA, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.transparencyusa.org/tx/pac/powered-by-people-84642-gpac. ^
  13. “Powered by People Pac Expenditures,” OpenSecrets, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/powered-by-people/C00731042/expenditures/2020. ^
  14. “Powered by People – Texas PAC,” Transparency USA, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.transparencyusa.org/tx/pac/powered-by-people-84642-gpac. ^
  15. “Billions Raised Online since 2004,” ActBlue, accessed September 23, 2021, https://secure.actblue.com/. ^
  16. “Where’s the Money?: Magazine,” The Harvard Crimson, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2008/4/30/wheres-the-money-p-alignleftthe-office/. ^
  17. Stef W. Kight, “Beto O’Rourke LAUNCHES ‘DRIVE-TO-YOU’ Voter Registration Tool,” Axios, September 2, 2021, https://www.axios.com/beto-orourke-voting-rights-texas-registration-ef526890-7958-4a02-a8d9-91e14f637d5e.html. ^
  18. Matthew N. Green, “Analysis | Texas House Democrats Fled the State to Kill a Restrictive Voting Bill. Will Their Gambit Work?,” The Washington Post (WP Company, July 16, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/16/texas-house-democrats-fled-state-kill-restrictive-voting-bill-will-their-gambit-work/. ^
  19. Emily Jacobs, “Escapade to DC by TEXAS Dems Funded by Beto O’rourke’s Pac,” New York Post (New York Post, July 15, 2021), https://nypost.com/2021/07/15/escapade-to-dc-by-texas-dems-funded-by-beto-orourkes-pac/. ^
  20. “AG Pax­Ton Warns Beto O’Rourke PAC Against Unlaw­Ful Col­Lec­Tion of Tex­Ans’ Per­Son­Al Data,” texasattorneygeneral.gov, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/ag-paxton-warns-beto-orourke-pac-against-unlawful-collection-texans-personal-data. ^
  See an error? Let us know!