Political Party/527

Southern Progress Fund

Website:

www.southernprogressfund.com

Location:

Little Rock, AR

Type:

Political Action Committee

Founded:

2013 (re-established in 2020)

Founder:

Ezra Reese

The Southern Progress Fund works to elect left-of-center statewide and state legislative candidates in the South. The Southern Progress Fund initially had support of the Democracy Alliance and was chaired by former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove (D). After involvement in some races in the South in 2013-2014, the group disbanded in 2015. A new, reconstituted version of the Southern Progress Fund began in Arkansas in 2020 to defeat a ballot initiative and claims to have assisted in two federal races in Mississippi.

History

The Southern Progress Fund was formed in 2013 to support left-of-center state legislative and statewide candidates throughout the southern United States. [1] Business records show the original group was founded by Marc Elias and a new version by Ezra Reese, both former partners at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Perkins Coie , a leading Democratic-aligned firm. [2] Reese and Elias have both since left Perkins Coie forming Elias Law Group. [3]

The initial Southern Progress Fund was chaired by former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove with Amanda Crumley as executive director. [4] The Southern Progress Fund was originally funded as part of the liberal George Soros founded Democracy Alliance’s “Progressive Infrastructure Map.” [5]  The group dissolved after 2015 to be re-constituted in 2020. [6]

Elections and Referendum Funding

In 2013, Southern Progress Fund provided $100,000 in independent expenditures in Virginia that assisted in electing Democrat Mark Herring as state attorney general. [7] In 2014, Southern Progress Fund ran voter registration efforts on behalf of Democrats in Georgia and Florida and provided paid media and communications efforts in races in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. [8] In 2015, the group went on hiatus to re-emerge in the 2020 election cycle. [9]

The Southern Progress Fund re-formed after incorporating in Arkansas in 2020. [10] In 2020, the Southern Progress Fund worked to defeat Ballot Issue 3 in Arkansas. [11] The amendment, which failed, would have increased the number of signatures required to add proposed constitutional amendments to the ballot. [12] Additionally, in 2020 the Southern Progress Fund was active in the Mississippi U.S. Senate race and a Congressional race in Arkansas. [13] In April 2021, Southern Progress Fund released a report claiming that polling shows voters in Arkansas are frustrated with Republican politicians attempting to distract voters from “real issues” by focusing on “culture war issues.” [14]

Finances

In 2013, an initial fundraiser was held for the Southern Progress Fund that was hosted by Kiki McLean, a former political advisor to Hillary Clinton. It was reportedly attended by Musgrove; Harold Ickes, Minyon Moore, and Burns Strider, political operatives associated with former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton family; and Julianna Smoot, a fundraiser for President Barack Obama. [15]

Leadership

Ezra Reese is chair of the political law practice at Elias Law Group and listed in business records as the incorporator/organizer of the 2020 inception of the Southern Progress Fund. [16] Prior to joining Elias Law Group in September 2021, Reese was a partner with Perkins Coie from 2013 through 2021 and an associate with the firm from 2003 through 2013. [17] Elias Law Group states it is a mission driven law firm to help Democrats win. [18] Reese has a J.D. and A.B. from Harvard University. [19]

Amanda Crumley is a director at the Southern Progress Fund. [20] Previously, she worked as an advisor to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (D) presidential campaign in 2020, deputy state director for former Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) presidential campaign in 2004, communications director for former Governor Tom Vilsack (D-IA), and communications director for former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (R-VA). [21] She worked in the White House for former President Bill Clinton and for the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996. [22]

References

  1. “History.” Southern Progress Fund Accessed July 3, 2022. https://www.southernprogressfund.com/history. ^
  2. Schoffstall, Joe. “Progressive Group Previously Linked to Democracy Alliance Relaunches to Elect Democrats in the South.” Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/elections/progressive-group-previously-linked-to-democracy-alliance-relaunches-to-elect-democrats-in-the-south/. ^
  3.  Thomas, David. “Elias Departs Perkins Coie, As Firm Says Will Continue Political Law Practice.” Reuters. August 23, 2021. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/legal/legalindustry/elias-departs-perkins-coie-firm-says-will-continue-political-law-practice-2021-08-23/. Ezra Reese LinkedIn profile. www.linkedin.com. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ezra-reese/. ^
  4. Wikileaks email from Amanda Crumley to John Podesta. July 22, 2013. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/53369. ^
  5. Schoffstall, Joe. “Progressive Group Previously Linked to Democracy Alliance Relaunches to Elect Democrats in the South.” Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/elections/progressive-group-previously-linked-to-democracy-alliance-relaunches-to-elect-democrats-in-the-south/. ^
  6. Schoffstall, Joe. “Progressive Group Previously Linked to Democracy Alliance Relaunches to Elect Democrats in the South.” Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/elections/progressive-group-previously-linked-to-democracy-alliance-relaunches-to-elect-democrats-in-the-south/. ^
  7. “Independent Expenditures.” Virginia Public Access Project. Accessed July 3, 2022. https://www.vpap.org/committees/242648/independent_expenditures/; “History.” Southern Progress Fund. Accessed July 3, 2022. https://www.southernprogressfund.com/history. ^
  8. “History.” Southern Progress Fund. Accessed July 3, 2022. https://www.southernprogressfund.com/history. ^
  9.  [1] Southern Progress Fund website. www.southernprogressfund.com. Accessed July 3, 2022. https://www.southernprogressfund.com/history; Schoffstall, Joe. “Progressive Group Previously Linked to Democracy Alliance Relaunches to Elect Democrats in the South.” Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/elections/progressive-group-previously-linked-to-democracy-alliance-relaunches-to-elect-democrats-in-the-south/. ^
  10. Arkansas Secretary of State website. www.ark.org. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.ark.org/sos_corpsearch_mobile/m.aspx/Corporation/Details/811248338. ^
  11. Schoffstall, Joe. “Progressive Group Previously Linked to Democracy Alliance Relaunches to Elect Democrats in the South.” Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/elections/progressive-group-previously-linked-to-democracy-alliance-relaunches-to-elect-democrats-in-the-south/. ^
  12. [1] Schoffstall, Joe. “Progressive Group Previously Linked to Democracy Alliance Relaunches to Elect Democrats in the South.” Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/elections/progressive-group-previously-linked-to-democracy-alliance-relaunches-to-elect-democrats-in-the-south/; Ballotpedia website. www.ballotpedia.com. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://ballotpedia.org/Arkansas_Issue_3,_Initiative_Process_and_Legislative_Referral_Requirements_Amendment_(2020). ^
  13. Brantley, Max. “Progressive Group Re-Emerges to Preserve the People’s Voice in Arkansas.” Arkansas Times. September 21, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2020/09/21/progressive-group-re-emerges-to-preserve-the-peoples-voice-in-arkansas. ^
  14. “Voters frustrated with GOP blind focus on culture war issues.” Southern Progress Fund. April 29, 2021. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.southernprogressfund.com/_files/ugd/64a737_8f8f879547b042d6b0e13867a1cc8ed3.pdf. ^
  15. Haberman, Maggie. “Kickoff Fundraiser Set for Dem Group.” Politico. December 12, 2013. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/democrats-southern-progress-fund-event-101100. ^
  16. “Ezra Reese.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ezra-reese/; Arkansas Secretary of State website. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.ark.org/sos_corpsearch_mobile/m.aspx/Corporation/Details/811248338. ^
  17. “Ezra Reese.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ezra-reese/. ^
  18. “Elias Law Group.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/company/elias-law-group/. ^
  19. “Ezra Reese.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 6, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ezra-reese/. ^
  20. Southern Progress Fund. Political Organization Notice of Section 527 Status. May 14, 2013. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://forms.irs.gov/app/pod/basicSearch/search/Pdf?_eventId_pdf=true&execution=e2s6. ^
  21. “Amanda Crumley.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-crumley-0311113/. ^
  22. “Amanda Crumley.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-crumley-0311113/. ^
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Southern Progress Fund

124 West Capitol Ave Suite 1900
Little Rock, AR