New Liberal Group Gets Tough With Conservative Donors

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


You could call it an attempt by long-beleaguered liberals to finally stop Swift Boat groups before they to attack Democratic candidates. You could also call it scare tactics.

Tom Matzzie, the former Washington director of Moveon.org and Judd Legum, the research director for Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, have teamed up to create Accountable America, a group independent of the Obama campaign and the DNC that will identify, publicize, and potentially create legal headaches for donors who fund conservative attack groups.

Accountable American will “deter Swift Boating groups by discouraging contributions to the groups,” said Matzzie on a conference call Friday afternoon with reporters. By publicizing the misdeeds of the groups and the sometimes sordid histories of the people who enable them, Matzzie said, the group will “create a sense of scandal around donating to these groups.”

Matzzie and company have started by mailing a letter to 10,000 prominent conservative donors. Matzzie says the letter “warns donors of the risk of engaging with these… organizations.” If the organizations violate the law by improperly meddling in federal elections, each contribution that funds them could an unlawful transaction. The donors are being made aware this. “We’re going to put them at risk,” says Matzzie.

Matzzie was originally slated to run Progressive Media USA, a $100 million independent group that intended to run a full-scale nationwide advocacy campaign. After Obama displayed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for independent groups operating on his behalf, either because of a desire to control message or because of independent groups’ tendency to practice a brand of politics Obama eschews, funding for Progressive Media USA dried up.

Matzzie says that his new groups needs far less money. In addition to the letters to conservative donors, it is investigating conservative independent groups and their funders, to find misbehavior large and small. After it’s found in one or two instances, Matzzie can pressure the majority of conservative donors all over again. “We’re asking donors to these groups whether or not they really want to be associated with these organizations and their peer donors,” he said.

Currently he’s offering a $100,000 reward to anyone with information on a conservative independent group that can be found in a criminal or civil impropriety. And despite the fundraising challenges Matzzie has faced in the past, it looks like doling out that figure won’t be a difficulty. Matzzie said on the conference call that Accountable America has raised $50,000 since announcing itself Friday morning, and $200,000 in the past two weeks.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate