Uh Oh, Did MoveOn.org Forget To Tell Everyone It Tries To Influence Elections With Corporate Dollars Too?

If you’ve ever entered your email address on MoveOn.org’s website, you know pressing “submit” is followed quickly by calls to donate cash to help so-and-so get elected. Hey, sometimes their campaigning even works! But wait, MoveOn — which runs its own PAC called MoveOn Political Action — has a problem with companies like Target donating to PACs to influence elections? Isn’t this how MoveOn gets a substantial amount of its own money?


Among the companies that directly or indirectly gave money to MoveOn: GlaxoSmithKline, AT&T, Geico and Goldman Sachs, relays Abe Sauer. That’s because those companies donate money to various PACs, and these various PACs give their money to MoveOn. It’s a brilliant and legal game of money laundering, where MoveOn gets to say its coffers are clean while engaging in the same fundraising tactics that, say, MN Forward uses to elect the candidates it likes.

So when you favorite car insurance provider or wireless company donates money that finds its way into MoveOn’s budget, which then goes to influence elections, it’s OK. But when companies like Target and Best Buy donate money to PACs to influence elections, it isn’t.

Wasn’t it MoveOn executive director Justin Ruben (pictured, top) who just got done saying, “Americans have spoken: we don’t want corporations meddling in our democracy. Corporate money in elections is nothing more than political bribery and we’re not going to stop targeting Target until they stop trying to buy our elections.” Surely, then, Mr. Ruben will be returning the funds it received from Sun Microsystems and JP Morgan Chase.

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  • Michael

    Queerty, Now I am totally lost with your stance. Who should we boycott today – Target or MoveOn?

  • L.

    @Michael: Easy. One on even days, the other on odd days, and both in leap years.

  • toyotabedzrock

    I think you missed the point of what MoveOn does.

    When MoveOn donates this money they are doing so for causes people want.

    Companies who donate this way can support candidates without having a political influence over said candidates.

    You seem to be stuck in an almost Fox induced paranoia panic.

  • Brett

    I wrote about this yesterday and my post was censored. I wouldn’t follow anything that Moveon suggested. Its primary investor and contributor hates America and would like nothing more than turning us into the Socialist States of America. Talk about a hypocrite; a billionaire ultimate capitalist who advocates socialism for every one else. Heading to Target now.

  • Daniel

    What I don’t get is this:companies have made financial contributions to political candidates since always. The recent Supreme Court decision just changed some of the disclosure rules and limits. Lots of companies make anti-gay donations, but MoveOn’s ad doesn’t even mention the LGBT angle on the Target boycott, it just says “boycott Target because they finance elections.” Yeah, well so does everyone else. Not saying that businesses and individuals shouldn’t be called out for it, but why is everyone acting like this is some NEW BIG SCANDAL and just targeting Target when this has been de rigeur for every election since the birth of America?

  • Sceth

    Let’s see:

    I think you missed the point of what MN Forward does.

    When MN Forward donates this money they are doing so for causes people want.

    Companies who donate this way can support candidates without having a political influence over said candidates.

    Sorry, that last sentence is complete and high-quality BS. Companies pick issues that they support, and then give that money to PACs that already concur. Like MN Forward and MoveOn. I’m no fan of MN Forward’s decision [or MoveOn’s economic policy], but Queerty’s point is very legitimate.

  • Brian Miller

    Good on Queerty for covering this. I had to stifle a big laugh when MoveOn started complaining about “corporate money in politics.” I am aware of several massive corporations who have provided large sums to them over the last few years.

    It’s almost as funny as the fact that the organization was incorporated to defend the presidency of Bill Clinton — the president responsible for the federal ban on equal marriage — was claiming it was OUTRAGED by opposition to marriage equality. Uhhh, okay. Yeah. Sure.

  • Mark

    yeah fuck moveon and their gay agenda, right?

  • Gay Florida

    Let’s outlaw ALL the PACs. While we’re at it, let’s take away lawyers’ ability to advertise on TV – that’s done as much for the destruction of our national character as the PACs. (Thanks, Reagan.)

  • Queer Supremacist

    @Brian Miller: All these organizations are Democrats first, gays way down the line. Even the supposedly gay ones.


    @Gay Florida: Let’s get rid of commercial television, period, and make people pay for what they watch.

  • Brian Miller

    Wow, well lookie here… MoveOn’s sugar daddy AT&T and its PAC provided one of the largest donations to Minnesota’s super-anti-gay Michelle Bachman — a cool $10,000:


    Will MoveOn be returning AT&T’s fat checks, publicly denouncing them, and initiating a shrill, angry staged “boycott?”

    It’s a possibility. Then again, there’s also a possibility that our homophobic president will order his DOJ to stop defending DOMA in court. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • Brian Miller

    And for the rest of you oh-so-cool urban hipster “boycotters,” when will you be shutting off your AT&T exclusive iPhones over the Bachmann contribution?

    Are those crickets I’m hearing?

  • Why All the h8? (John from England)

    Hey Brian! I’d love to meet you or Queerty in a dark alley if I was being beaten up for being gay! You’d probably join in and call more people to kick the shut out of me!

    With friends like these? Who needs enemies?

    The mainstream fight against the minorities. The minorities fight against each other.

    You’re always alone. Those you think are your brothers or sisters because you share the same fight, will be the first to cast a stone your way.

    Plus ca change.

  • Brian Miller

    Ah, just what I wanted, some lecture from a Brit who probably couldn’t find Minnesota on a map without a magnifying glass and a big clue.

    I work to help LGBT Americans find economic opportunity. I tutor young LGBT folks who need help with their reading and math skills. I donated money to GLAD and the ACLU for the marriage fights in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

    I’m good friends with one of the first couples to get legally married in Massachusetts (something you over there still can’t do).

    I’ve been jumped for being gay three times in my life. Successfully fled the first time, kicked ass the second time, scared them off the third time.

    What did you do?

    Oh yeah, you posted on Queerty from across the pond and “showed your outrage” by joining a Facebook group and “demanding a boycott” of businesses who help gay people all over my country.

    Enjoy those second-class civil partnerships.

  • ricky lee

    Funny how Fox News news is blamed for everything that isn’t a far-leftist view on EVERYTHING! Sad to see Queerty be as misguided and thick-headed as the right-wing ideals they verbally puke all over. Not all gays subscribe to the far-left view of everything and funny to see Queerty judge gays who have different points of view just as harshly as homophobes. The utopian society ideal has robbed your common sense and your ability to truly be accepting of others and to respect true diversity since that requires to respect the views of others without condemning them. Mainstream gays today are to shallow and judgmental to extend such courtesies they espouse to support. No wonder GLBT’s are distancing themselves from the gay movement since they do not feel represented and to harshly criticized when they don’t follow the mainstream gay point of view. So much for acceptance and diversity. According to mainstream gay culture everyone is supposed to be a bowling pin with no desire for being different from the lemmings that oversee gay cultural centers.

  • David

    Unions are able to give money to candidates too. The sad thing is a lot of those unions are around because of tax payer money. Take for example teacher unions and government unions.

    People have a choice when it comes to companies. They do not have to shop at these places. Unions, that is a different story all together.

    I am going to shop at Target. They actually give money to the GLT community. You do not here about that though.

  • John L.

    Your article repeatedly blurs the distinction between MoveOn.org Civic Action, a 501(c)(4) organization that does issue advocacy, and MoveOn Political Action, which funnels donations to progressive campaigns. This seems to me to be a non-trivial distinction.

    Also, I don’t think it is correct to state that “MoveOn” (either branch of it) gets a “substantial” amount of its money from corporations. From their web site:

    “Because it’s a federal PAC, MoveOn.org Political Action can’t accept donations greater than $5,000. And in fact, MoveOn.org Political Action is mostly funded by people who give less than $100 – folks who don’t have a lot of money but want to see a change. Through 2004, MoveOn.org Political Action raised approximately $11 million for 81 candidates from over 300,000 donors. In 2005, MoveOn.org Political Action grew to 3.2 million members and 125,000 members contributed $9 million to progressive candidates and campaigns (average donation: $45)”

    However, elsewhere on their ABOUT page, they explicitly state that “[b]oth organizations are entirely funded by individuals” which cannot be, if, as your article claims, corporate money makes its way into their coffers (again, either MoveOn.org’s or MoveOn PAC’s) via contributions from other liberal PACs.

    So I’m confused. By I want to believe Queerty is misinformed.

  • Honest Liberal

    I’ve got to let you know that you are basically 100% wrong on this, which you could have pretty easily figured out by just reading up on PAC laws or MoveOn’s website.

    MoveOn PAC accepts NO corporate contributions–that would be against the law. So no corporate money is influencing elections through MoveON–that’s just straight up not true. MoveOn can’t accept any donation higher than 5k from INDIVIDUALS and NO corporate money.

    MoveOn does have a c4–called MoveOn Civic Action, which can NOT influence elections but can work on issues like global warming etc.

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