George Soros is an exacting taskmaster. In return for his money, he demands productivity. What he requires of employees and business associates in the investment world, Soros also demands from the political operatives he funds. “Mr. Soros isn't just writing checks and watching,” notes Wall Street Journal reporter Jeanne Cummings. “He is also imposing a business model on the notoriously unruly world of politics. He demands objective evidence of progress, and assigned an aide to monitor the groups he supports. He studies private polls to track the impact of an anti-Bush advertising campaign, and he is delivering his money in installments, giving him leverage if performance falters.”
By early 2004, the Shadow Party’s infrastructure had assumed a coherent shape, under Soros’ guidance. At its heart lay seven ostensibly “independent” non-profit groups which constitute the network’s administrative core. Let us call them the Seven Sisters. In chronological order, based upon their launch dates, they are:
Launched September 22, 1998
2. Center for American Progress (CAP)
Launched July 7, 2003
3. America Votes
Launched July 15, 2003
4. America Coming Together (ACT)
Launched July 17, 2003
5. The Media Fund
Launched November 5, 2003
6. Joint Victory Campaign 2004
Launched November 5, 2003
7. The Thunder Road Group LLC
Launched early 2004
With the exception of MoveOn.org – based in Berkeley, California – all Seven Sisters maintain headquarters in Washington DC. Testifying to the close links between these groups are their interlocking finances, Boards of Directors and corporate officers. In some cases, they even share office space.
For example, two of the Seven Sisters – The Media Fund and Joint Victory Campaign 2004 – share an office in Suite #1100 at 1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Three other groups – America Coming Together (ACT), America Votes and The Thunder Road Group – lease offices in the Motion Picture Association Building at 888 16th Street, NW. It is tempting to consider that the clustering of these three groups in a building owned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) may not be coincidental. The MPAA has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Democratic Party; many high-ranking Democrats have slipped comfortably from government jobs into glamorous posts in the MPAA’s upper management.
In March 2004, for instance, Dan Glickman succeeded Jack Valenti as MPAA president. Valenti was a Democrat lobbyist and former aide to President Lyndon Johnson. Glickman was formerly a Democratic Congressman from Kansas, who later served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton White House. Now, as MPAA president, Glickman holds what is arguably the most powerful position in Hollywood.
The Shadow Party draws much of its funding from the entertainment world. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Jane Fonda is the fourth largest donor to Democrat 527 groups and Hollywood producer Stephen L. Bing takes third place. The top four Shadow Party donors are as follows:
Top Four Shadow Party Contributions to Democrat 527s
Contributors (August 2000 – August 2004)
George and Susan W. Soros $24,170,000.00
Peter B. Lewis $23,147,220.00
Stephen L. Bing $15,382,555.00
Courtesy The Center for Public Integrity
Below is a brief overview of the Seven Sisters and their function in the Shadow Party network. The profiles appear in chronological order, according to their launch dates.
“It feels so bourgeois!” exclaimed a man who had just made the first campaign contribution of his life. Recorded by LA Weekly writer Brendan Bernhard, this man’s outburst bespeaks a mass phenomenon for which MoveOn.org can largely take credit.
More than a Web site, MoveOn.org is a movement cleverly tailored to lure the young, the Net-savvy and the self-consciously fashionable into supporting mainstream Democrats such as John Kerry – the sort of candidate whom today’s digital hipsters would normally dismiss as a square. MoveOn’s peculiar contribution to the Shadow Party is its ability to draw into the political process America’s ever-growing hordes of self-absorbed cyber-existentialists – “tech-savvy progressives,” in the words of Salon.com writer Michelle Goldberg – and convince them that a vote for the Democrats is a blow against middle-class conformity. MoveOn is the Joe Camel of the Shadow Party, playing to the deepseated antipathy that bohemians of every age group harbor toward all things normal, wholesome, traditional and adult.
Regarding MoveOn’s success at harnessing popular entertainment to the Democrat cause, whether in the form of rock-concert fundraisers or Bush-bashing ads with an MTV edge, the LA Weekly’s Bernhard concludes, “[I]t's all part of a giant, perhaps unprecedented effort by the country's intellectual and artistic communities to unseat the conspicuously unintellectual, inartistic man in the Oval Office.”
High-tech entrepreneur Wesley Boyd and his wife Joan Blades created MoveOn. Their software company Berkeley Systems Inc. of Berkeley, California made a fortune in the early ‘90s with its “After Dark” screensaver, featuring the famous animated “flying toasters.” When the screensaver market peaked in 1994, Berkeley Systems rolled out a successful line of CD-ROM computer games. Company sales had reached $30 million annually by the time Boyd sold Berkeley Systems in 1997 for $13.8 million.
In 2002, Boyd and Blades hired 32-year-old Zack Exley as MoveOn’s organizing director. A computer programmer and Web designer by trade, Exley had gained national attention during the 2000 campaign when he launched GWBush.com, a Web site featuring doctored photographs portraying candidate Bush as a dope fiend. Exley was a hardened activist of the extreme Left. Trained by the AFL-CIO, he had worked as an undercover union organizer for five years, and also done a stint training activists for the Ruckus Society, an anarchist group whose violent tactics first caught the public eye during the 1999 riots against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Exley brought a ruthless edge to MoveOn’s fundraising and propaganda drives which soon aroused the admiration of mainstream Democrats.
In May 2003, the Howard Dean presidential campaign hired Exley away from MoveOn for two weeks in order to turbocharge Dean’s Web operations. Exley finally left MoveOn for good in April 2004 to become Director of Online Communications and Online Organizing for the Kerry-Edwards campaign.
In the meantime, George Soros had incorporated MoveOn into his Shadow Party. Following the September 17, 2003 meeting between Soros and Boyd mentioned in Part 1, Soros and his associates poured nearly $6.2 million into MoveOn over a period of six months, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The contributions include $2.5 million from George Soros personally; $2.5 million from Peter B. Lewis of Progressive Insurance; $971,427 from Peter Bing of Shangri-La Entertainment; $100,000 from Benson & Hedges tobacco heir Lewis Cullman; and $101,000 from Soros’ 34-year-old son Jonathan T. Soros, an attorney and financier recently promoted to deputy manager of Soros Fund Management LLC.