Democracy Data & Communications, LLC (DDC)
DDC Advocacy, founded in 1996, is a public affairs firm offering strategic planning and technology. It specializes in "helping clients strengthen their voices in the policymaking process by transforming organizations' human and economic assets into powerful political resources."
DDC Advocacy states on its website that it has "expertise in grassroots, PACs, membership development, fundraising, voter election—all the ways in which stakeholders and allies join together to make a difference."
DDC Advocacy is a member of the Public Affairs Council and is listed as a vendor with the National Association of Business Political Action Committees (NABPAC).
About DDC Advocacy: Alfred Street Partners, LLC
Alfred Street Partners "purchased a majority stake in Democracy Data & Communications in 1997, one year after its founding. DDC Advocacy was built on the idea that technology-based services were overlooking the public affairs departments of corporations, trade associations, and interest groups. In 1997, DDC had revenues of $264k and an operating loss of $156k. By 2004, revenues eclipsed $14 million and operating profits surpassed $2.8 million. The company reached #72 on the 2002 Inc. 500 list. DDC Advocacy includes nine of the Fortune 10 among its clients."
In the political action committee banned soft money business
Jonathan D. Salant reported February 21, 2006, that General Motors was "one of 66 companies and associations that [had] hired Democracy Data & Communications ... to help them increase donations to their PACs." According to CEO B.R. McConnon III, DDC's PAC department only had two clients prior to the ban on soft money.
"Democracy Data advises its clients to talk about the importance of lobbying and how the PAC helps those efforts. 'Companies want to have a political presence that reflects the size and strength they've established in the marketplace,' says Holly Pitt Young, a Democracy Data vice president," Salant wrote.
In the e-voting & election software business
Democracy Data & Communications is an approved vendor/service provider for "Electronic Filing in California" by the California Secretary of State.
DDC is among those listed by the Maryland State Board of Elections as a private vendor of filing software.
In the astroturfing business
Based on posts left on newsrack blog, Thomas Nephew reported August 22, 2006, that Democracy Data & Communications (DDC) was in the astroturfing business and had been involved "sotto voce [in] Bush administration P.R. campaigns for its Medicare and 'No Child Left Behind' education initiatives."
In the February 28, 2006, Daily Kos, Mark G. Levey wrote: "Democracy Data & Communcations is a big player in the astroturf community. They host the website for the Grass Roots Roundtable, and they co-chair it with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The board of directors is a regular Who's Who of American industry. They're a big player at the Public Affairs Council, and they've earned a reputation as the place to go for astroturf campaigns."
Levey first came across DD&C LLC in October 2005, "when they were putting pop-up ads against John Edwards in AOL Instant Messenger. This was for their The Truth About Trial Lawyers site for the November Fund ... a tort-reform astroturf campaign bought and paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Yes, the government was running ads against the Democrats. ...) ... A quick google on their name brought up their site, and a May 2004 post by Mark Kleiman on a very similar campaign on behalf of No Child Left Behind."
Levey next "started noodling around their DNS", which led to the discovery that DDC "owned the whole 151.200.70.* netblock" and the further discovery that DCC then owned the following domains:
- 184.108.40.206 voteforcontracting.com
- 220.127.116.11 voteforcontracting.org
- 18.104.22.168 voteforflorida.com
- 22.214.171.124 voteforflorida.org
- 126.96.36.199 voteforfranchising.com
- 188.8.131.52 voteforgeorgewbush.com
- 184.108.40.206 voteforphilanthropy.com
- 220.127.116.11 voteforsmallbusiness.com
- 18.104.22.168 voteforsmallbusiness.net
- 22.214.171.124 voteforsmallbusiness.org
- 126.96.36.199 voteforthemeritshop.com
- 188.8.131.52 voteforworkingwomen.com
- 184.108.40.206 votehardwood.com
- 220.127.116.11 votein2004.com
- 18.104.22.168 votein2004.org
- 22.214.171.124 wisconsinbusinessvotes.com
- 126.96.36.199 www.voteforbusiness.com
To this Levey asked "is it even legal for the US Chamber of Commerce and Democracy Data & Communications to even be hosting voteforgeorgewbush.com? One has to wonder whether this service was counted toward the FEC campaign contribution limits? Well, it turns out someone was interested. B.R. McConnon, President of Democracy Data & Communcations was subpoenaed to testify before a Senate Committee probing his company's relationship with Jack Abramoff's convicted protege, Michael Scanlon."
Nephew added on August 22, 2006, that the "current list for that particular block appears to be smaller now, and appears to change periodically -- or maybe the 'dnsstuff.com' utility for looking at that block only gets a random dozen or so at a time, I'm no expert on this kind of thing.
"At any rate," Nephew wrote, "as of the other evening 188.8.131.52 is the IP address for votefornuclear.com, voteforthemeritshop.com (builders association twist on 'open shop'), ustvotes.com (UST tobacco corporation voting site) and other organizations that generally funnel interested parties towards a voteforbusiness.com Chamber of Commerce mothership.** One that doesn't is the Social Security 'reform' group compasscoalition.com (Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security), which asserts
- "'The only viable solution is to modernize Social Security. Modernization would not affect people who are currently in or near retirement. Instead, it would offer younger workers a chance to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in personal savings accounts (PSA). Modernization would be a victory for all Americans and offers many benefits, such as higher retirement payments and personal ownership of PSAs that can be passed on to heirs.'
"Sure," Nephew wrote, "if you ... and Big Tobacco ... and all the rest of the wonderful folks inhabiting this IP address say so," which is what he "saw under 184.108.40.206", although "not a confident Internet sleuth, DDC still appears to own the whole 151.200.70.* IP address range. That leaves a bunch of other 4 number codes to sift through, but there's clearly a bit of a political pattern already."
In the spreading the seeds of democracy business
On March 1, 2006, Democracy Data & Communications, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) conducted an international conference entitled Expanding & Strengthening Democracy: The Role of Technology the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, a convention of "scholars, practitioners, and politicians from the U.S. and abroad to discuss the impact of technology on democratic processes and institutions."
Googling "DD&C LLC"
A September 4, 2006, Google search for DD&C LLC found the following sites "Hosted & Developed by DD&C, LLC":
- AEP Committees for Responsible Government: "political action committees (PAC) established for the purpose of making campaign contributions to candidates in federal and state elections by AEP employees, shareholders, and their families."—AEPPAC.COM
- Americans for Growth Through Trade. "A project of the Business Roundtable"—FREETRADEUSA.ORG
- CAMR News / Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (University of Michigan)—CAMRADVOCACY.ORG
- Fannie Mae PAC—FANNIEMAEPAC.COM
- Ford Motor Company PCP System (PAC Check Request/Application)—FMC-PAC.COM
- GENWORTH PACWEB—EPACWEB.COM
- Get Michigan Working!—IMPROVINGTELECOM.ORG
- Get Out the Vote: "KPMG LLP, the U.S. member firm of KPMG International, a Swiss cooperative"—KPMGVOTES.COM
- Get Out the Vote: Susan B. Anthony List 
- Health Check Coalition—USHEALTHCHECKNOW.COM
- Insure America Against Terrorism—TERRORISM-INSURANCE.ORG
- Maryland Independent College and University Association's Capitol Connect—MICUACONNECTION.COM
- Microsoft's Freedom to Innovate Network—FREETOINNOVATE.COM
- Minnesota Gambling/Capitol Connection—HIGHSTAKESMN.ORG
- Northwestern Mutual—NMPACCHECKS.COM
- Norton Healthcare—NORTONADVOCATES.COM
- Patients' Action Network American Medical Association—PATIENTSACTIONNETWORK.COM
- UST Executives Administrators and Managers Political Action Committee—USTEAMPAC.COM
- Also see the DD&C LLC "Select Client List".
The staff for DDC can be found on the listing on its corporate website.
Resources and articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- America's Health Insurance Plans
- Astroturf blogging
- Freedom's Watch
- National Mining Association (client)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 NABPAC
- ↑ Lobby Search
- ↑ Democracy Data
- ↑ PAC Member Directory
- ↑ Alfred Street Partners Ventures
- ↑ CA Secretary of State Approved Vendors
- ↑ The Hill
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Statelists
- ↑ Jeffrey Morris, Jeffrey Morris, LinkedIn online profile, accessed January 19, 2012
- Profile: John Brady, Marketing Strategies, Grow Fast, Grow Right Dream Team, and Managing Partner, Alfred Street Partners .
- Garance Franke-Ruta, "Politics.com Gains Four New Partners," internetnews.com, January 28, 2000: "And the agreement with Alexandria, Va.-based Democracy Data & Communications allows Politics.com users to lookup their elected representatives with a DDC search engine that identifies state and federal legislators when unique addresses are entered."
- Mark Kleiman, "Astroturf politics and NCLB," The Reality-Based Community, May 1, 2004.
- Wayne Rash, "Campaigners Take Messages to Streaming AIM Video," eWeek.com, October 26, 2004.
- Frank Barnako, "Meeker sees money in blogs," MarketWatch.com, October 27, 2004.
- Martin Geddes, "Astroturfed Out," Telepocalypse, December 9, 2004.
- Press Release: "Covington & Burling and Democracy, Data & Communications Announce Alliance," Covington & Burling, June 28, 2005. Also see C&B description.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "On Capitol Hill, the Inboxes Are Overflowing," Washington Post, July 11, 2005.
- Josephine Hearn, "McCain puts ex-official on hot seat," The Hill, November 1, 2005: "Two people who had business dealings with Scanlon are expected to appear: B.R. McConnon, president of Democracy Data & Communications,..."
- Jonathan D. Salant, "GM, Comcast, Pfizer Boost Political Giving, Skirt Federal Ban," Bloomberg, February 21, 2006.
- Mark G. Levey, "A Job You Might Not Want to Apply For, Unless You're Jack Abramoff," Daily Kos, February 28, 2006.
- Beth Wellington, "Campaign Finance and the Internet: A Commentary on the Online Freedom of Speech Act," LLRX.com, March 21, 2006.
- Brendan Buhler and J. Patrick Coolican, "Shoe leather and phones: GOP goes retro," Las Vegas Sun, August 14, 2006.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Targeting Likely Advocates With Web Ads," Washington Post, August 21, 2006.
- Thomas Nephew, "'Their voice. Amplified.' or Why I'm banning 151.200.70.* comments," newsrack, August 22, 2006.
- Trudy Lieberman, "A Laurel to the Eagle-Tribune: Paper gets Astroturfed and smells a rat," Columbia Journalism Review Campaign Desk, April 24, 2009.