|This article is part of the SourceWatch coverage of MoveOn.|
MoveOn is a web-based liberal advocacy organization that raises tens of millions of dollars for Democratic Party politicians and causes from the millions of people on its e-mail list. MoveOn funds or sponsors with other liberal advocacy organizations various coalitions such as Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI), SavetheInternet.com Coalition, and Win Without War. It endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, fundraised and organized for him, and has become perhaps the lead lobby organization for his policies in 2009, apart from Obama's own Organizing for America. MO is a member of Health Care for America Now. It is formally allied with 350.org.
MoveOn claims to have more than 5 million email addresses of political progressives, its members, in the United State (although only a fraction - typically well under 10% - respond to any given MoveOn email alert or appeal). MoveOn is an online organization with no central office that you might visit, nor phone number to call. Its website address is: http://www.moveon.org
- 1 MoveOn and 99% Spring in 2012
- 2 MoveOn in 2009: Lobbying for Obama's Agenda
- 3 MoveOn in 2008: Fundraising and Organizing for Democrats
- 4 Personnel & consultants
- 5 Relationships with other organizations
- 6 History and overview
- 7 MoveOn and Iraq
- 8 Candidates supported
- 9 Structure and personnel
- 10 Financial contributors
- 11 Contact information
- 12 Articles and resources
MoveOn and 99% Spring in 2012
- John Stauber, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats, March 15, 2013, CounterPunch.
MoveOn in 2009: Lobbying for Obama's Agenda
The Financial Times noted in late January, 2009 that "with precisely zero votes from Republican lawmakers for his $819 billion stimulus package, Barack Obama’s bipartisan aspirations may already be in tatters ... but White House officials are pinning great hopes on peeling off moderate Republicans in the Senate when it votes on the package next week." A coalition including MoveOn, Americans United for Change, and the unions SEIU and AFSCME have launched a TV ad campaign to pressure Republican senators to vote with Obama
MoveOn in 2008: Fundraising and Organizing for Democrats
Wes Boyd and Tom Matzzie of MoveOn are leaders of Campaign to Defend America which hopes to raise and spend over one hundred millon dollars on the 2008 election and is running anti-John McCain TV ads and funding other organizations such as Campaign Money Watch. 
On March 19, 2008, the Washington Times reported that "MoveOn.org plans to spend $30 million on this election cycle, focusing particularly on Senate races in hopes that Democrats will gain the 60 seats needed to overcome filibusters." . Associated Press carried a similar story.  Politico reported that MoveOn "would enthusiastically unite with the other groups behind Clinton if she carried the nomination into a general election showdown with the presumptive GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain." 
In January, 2008 Ryan Grim reported that MoveOn and its Americans Against Escalation in Iraq coalition would no longer advocate that Congress end the war in Iraq. "The groups instead will lower their sights and push for legislation to prevent President Bush from entering into a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could keep significant numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come. ... The groups believe this switch in strategy can draw contrasts with Republicans that will help Democrats gain ground in November..." 
MoveOn's Eli Pariser sent a January video to MoveOn's massive email list warning that "a lot of Democrats think we are going to ... slide into victory. I don't. ... We need to make sure we that we win, and we've got a big plan to do that ... to get out the vote for the Democratic candidate." 
Personnel & consultants
- Joan Blades
- Wes Boyd
- Nita Chaudhary
- Laura Dawn
- Adam Green
- Laura Dawn, Cultural Director
- Zack Exley, who previously created the gwbush.com website, was the Director of Special Projects for the MoveOn PAC. During the Democratic primary for the 2004 presidential election, Exley worked as a web consultant for the Howard Dean campaign. According to Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, he hired Exley because he admired MoveOn's ability to organize activists over the web. In March 2004, Exley became the director of online communications and organization for John Kerry's presidential campaign.
- Robert Greenwald has produced films in collaboration with MoveOn, including "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Gulf War" and "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism]."
- John Hlinko, an online guerrilla marketing and PR specialist who went on to establish a firm called Extreme Campaigns before going to work for Grassroots Enterprise, worked on MoveOn's anti-impeachment effort in 1998 and again on its 2001 push for campaign-finance reform.
- Ilyse Hogue, National Campaign Director
- Patrick Michael Kane of We Also Walk Dogs, Inc. has worked as MoveOn's System Architect, designing, building and managing MoveOn's web and mailing infrastructure. According to Wes Boyd, We Also Walk Dogs "solves our mass mailing, web database, and security problems in shockingly short timeframes. Without them, our campaigns would be impossible."
- Tom Matzzie
- Carrie Olson, Chief Operating Officer
- Eli Pariser, International Campaigns Director
- Hannah Pingree, MoveOn PAC
- Adam Ruben, National Field Director
- Justin Ruben, Deputy Field Director
- Peter Schurman, Executive Director
- Matthew Smucker
- Noah T. Winer, MoveOn's Media Action
MoveOn has retained Fenton Communications for PR advice. The Fenton website features a testimonial from Wes Boyd stating "We see Fenton as a core part of our team. Their almost unique understanding of online organizing, combined with their media and communications depth, has been fundamental to our breakout success".
MoveOn has also retained the services of advertising, political consulting and PR firms, including:
- Advocacy Inc.
- M+R Strategic Services
- Fenton Communications
- Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
- Progressive Strategies LLC
It has also worked with Stamen Designs to provide the interactive maps for The Virtual March to Washington and other similar events.
Relationships with other organizations
MoveOn has collaborated on projects with a number of other organizations. In 2007, for instance, it was "part of a coalition of liberal groups organized by Americans United for Change that includes labor unions and liberal groups," as Lyndsey Layton and Jonathan Weisman reported February 8, 2007, in the Washington Post.
MoveOn has collaborated on projects with a number of other organizations, including:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- American Constitution Society
- American Freedom Campaign
- Americans United for Change
- Campaign to Defend America
- Environment 2004
- Free Press
- National Committee for an Effective Congress
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- United for Peace and Justice
- Win Without War
History and overview
MoveOn.org originated in 1998 as a bipartisan email group that petitioned Congress to "move on" past the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton and grew to national prominence for its strong disapproval of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A liberal political group based in the United States, MoveOn.org organized and informed an online community estimated at more than 2 million people. The group's aims were to promote grassroots advocacy by its members through various political activities including running a PAC, voter registration drives, political advertising (especially in swing states).
MoveOn.org devoted its efforts toward supporting the Democratic nominees for the 2004 U.S. presidential election and defeating George W. Bush's re-election effort, raising millions of dollars for Democratic candidates. It is one of several 527 committees who supported John Kerry, the Democratic nominee in the 2004 U.S. presidential election; others include America Coming Together and the Media Fund. A major supporter of MoveOn in recent years has been George Soros.
George Soros and a partner committed up to $5 million to MoveOn.org bringing to $15.5 million the total of his personal contributions to oust President George W. Bush. Overnight, Soros, 74, became the major financial player of the left. He has elicited cries of foul play from the right.
MoveOn has created pressure within the Democratic Party for what the Washington Post calls "a vigorously liberal agenda" that goes "beyond simple opposition to the Bush administration." Boyd rejects the advice of "centrists" such as the Democratic Leadership Council who argue that "Democrats must moderate their positions on war, taxes, universal health care and other key issues." Speaking in June 2003 at a "Take Back America" conference, MoveOn's Wes Boyd declared, "The primary way to build trust is to consistently fight for things that people care about." Grassroots America is ready to support a liberal agenda, he said, if only "someone will get out and lead. ... Every time we did something, every time we showed leadership, our membership went up."
- Main article: MoveOn/History
MoveOn and Iraq
MoveOn's "Americans for Exit" ad project
On September 27, 2007, MoveOn Political Action launched the "Americans for Exit" ad project—"a powerful new project that will remind our representatives that those of us against the war are America"—in an email sent to members,  who were asked to
- Send "a picture of you which shows how you feel about the war. Then, you'll record a voice message to Congress. We'll put together a big unveiling, use your photos and words in an ad campaign and deliver them to your members of Congress. We'll make it impossible for them to ignore you."
MoveOn's controversial role in 2007 within the US peace movement
On March 23, 2007, Salon.com reported:
"Groups who call for immediate withdrawal argue that MoveOn's position is a betrayal of their cause, and that Pelosi's bill merely continues the war while allowing Democrats to say they've done something to oppose it. ... MoveOn, which began with an e-mail petition opposing President Clinton's impeachment in 1998, has grown into one of the biggest and best-known netroots groups on the left. When Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress, it raised millions of dollars in soft money for insurgent liberal candidates and produced memorable commercials blasting President Bush. Now, however, with the Democrats running the House and Senate, MoveOn's stance on the Pelosi bill has led critics to suggest complicity with the new congressional power structure. MoveOn has settled for something less than ideal. It's the classic problem the outsider faces after getting inside: Now that it's got an in with the speaker of the House, has MoveOn lost its soul?"
MoveOn founders Joan Blades and Wes Boyd answered their critics in a friendly interview with Don Hazen, executive director of AlterNet on March 30, 2007. Hazen writes, "For the first time ... members of Congress -- at least the new Democratic majority, along with a handful of Republicans -- finally caught up with the population" and "confronted Bush over the financing of the war and a real timeline for ending it. ... The ability to win this first victory was difficult and complex. It was achieved in part with the energetic and savvy support of millions of progressives and particularly MoveOn.org ... Yet this victory, and MoveOn's role, is not without controversy."
On April 4, 2007, MoveOn sent an email to its list to raise money for Democrats who voted correctly on the Pelosi bill. It read in part:
"Contribute to Key Campaigns. Dear MoveOn member, Two weeks ago the House of Representatives passed a deadline to end the war—the first vote to end the war since it started. This progress was possible because of the Democratic majority in Congress that you helped elect. Another cause for hope is that the newest members of the House stood strong, despite the fact that they'll be targeted heavily by Republicans for voting to end the war. We need to protect these courageous leaders for doing the right thing. Let's make sure these new members of Congress know we'll stand with them as they demand accountability from President Bush and work to end the war. Can you chip in $50 to their campaigns to reward political courage—and keep these new anti-war voices in Congress?" A link in the mailing identified specific members of Congress to whom money could be sent."
On May 24, 2007, just before Memorial Day weekend, MoveOn's legislative strategy collapsed and failed entirely as the Democratic controlled Congress gave President Bush full funding for the war. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber commented, "After several months of empty posturing against the war in Iraq, politicians in Washington have made what Democratic congressman James P. Moran called a "concession to reality" by agreeing to give President Bush virtually everything he wanted in funding and unrestricted license to continue waging the increasingly detested war that has made Bush the most unpopular president since Richard Nixon. This is the outcome that we warned against two months ago when we wrote "Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" In it, we criticized MoveOn for backpedaling on its previously claimed objective of ending the war in Iraq immediately."
Criticism and questions regarding MoveOn & the War on Iraq
Although putatively against the US-Iraq war, there are some questions about its stance about the US occupation of Iraq. Norman Solomon criticized MoveOn for not supporting a Congressional call for a US withdrawal from Iraq. [CounterSpin, March 25, 2005].
On December 2, 2005, Tom Matzzie sent out an email to MoveOn activists stating:
- Pelosi has been a leader against the war in Iraq since it started – running the "whip" operation in Congress that rounded up Democratic votes against the war in 2002. When she led congressional war opposition she was bucking her own leaders who were supporting Bush. It impressed enough of her Democratic colleagues that they elected her Leader.
On January 10, 2007, Joshua Frank wrote, "I’m not even all that sure MoveOn opposes the Iraq war. Sure they rallied opposition during the lead up to the invasion a few years back, but since then they’ve done little if anything that should garner the respect of the antiwar movement. Despite Kerry’s grotesque position on the Iraq war in 2004, MoveOn implored their members to donate cash to his campaign, but said nary a word about his pro-war posturing. You can’t support a candidate without putting demands on their candidacy and MoveOn’s breakdown has made them all but irrelevant as an antiwar club."
On March 13, 2007, author Norman Solomon wrote an essay on Common Dreams website saying, "When you look at the practicalities of the situation, Pelosi and Reid could be more accurately described as speaker and leader for the war-management movement." Solomon notes that the powerful liberal advocacy group "MoveOn seems to have wrapped itself around the political sensibilities of Reid, Pelosi and others at the top of Capitol Hill leadership. ... Last week, while MoveOn was sending out a mass e-mail to its 3.2 million members offering free bumper stickers urging 'End This War,' the MoveOn leadership was continuing its failure to back the efforts of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for 'a fully funded, and systematic, withdrawal of U.S. soldiers and military contractors from Iraq.'" Solomon said that it is sad to see Moveon's "handful of decision-makers failing to support a measure to fund an orderly and prompt withdrawal from the war."
"General Betray Us" ad
Congress denouncement of MoveOn.org ad
- Main article: MoveOn and the U.S. Congress
On September 21, 2007, the Senate voted 72-25 to condemn MoveOn's "General Betray Us" ad.
On September 26, the House voted 341-79 to pass a similar resolution to the one passed in the Senate condemning the "General Betray Us" advertisement.
Significance of the ad
"Remember, the majority of the American public - regardless of age, religion, and political leanings -- is opposed to the war in Iraq. MoveOn represents but a mere 3 million or so Americans out of this majority, but still a large delegation expressing a very mainstream and popular view. So what happened, then? What was the real issue that no one noticed or actually verbalized, but felt almost instantaneously? We all felt it. I felt it. You felt it. But what happened that we all felt?
"One of the major accomplishments of the MoveOn ad is that it showed that a President who claims not to care about the poll numbers, and hence the opinion of the public he claims to represent, suddenly had to answer the gauntlet publicly thrown down. His arrogance demanded it and his opportunistic nature wanted to exploit it," Larisa Alexandrovna wrote October 5, 2007, in The Huffington Post.
"When the President denounced the ad as disgusting, he also denounced the public opinion of most Americans and, without meaning to, actually united and energized the public. He energized the public against him and the corporate-political junta he represents. We all felt energized by the arrogance of a leader who would so insult his own constituents and in such a public forum. In reaction, it was as though everyone was pushed into the streets - like it or not - at the same time," Alexandrovna wrote.
The MoveOn PAC endorsed 30 Democratic political candidates in the 2000 election cycle, including
- Scotty Baesler, who ran successfully for reelection to Congress in Kentucky's 6th District.
- Jean Elliott Brown, a MoveOn volunteer and public relations executive who ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Rep. Mark Foley in Florida. MoveOn channeled more than $100,000 to her campaign.
- Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, who ran against Senator John Ashcroft. Due to Carnahan's unexpected death during the campaign, his wife took his place and defeated Ashcroft.
- Delaware Governor Thomas Carper, who successfully defeated incumbent GOP Senator William Roth.
- Linda Chapin, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Florida's 8th district.
- Regina Montoya Coggins, who ran unsuccessfully in Texas's 5th District against Pete Sessions
- Susan Davis, who ran successfully in California's 49th District (now the 53rd District, following redistricting).
- Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who in 1998 defeated Rep. Mike Pappas, a vociferous supporter of Clinton's impeachment.
- Nancy Keenan, a Montanan seeking the seat of extremely conservative Rep. Rick Hill.
- Rick Larsen, who ran successfully in Washington's open 2nd District race.
- Susan Bass Levin, who ran unsuccessfully in New Jersey's 3rd District against H. James Saxton
- California state Senator Adam Schiff, who defeated Rep. James Rogan, one of the House Managers in charge of Clinton's impeachment trial. MoveOn directed nearly $200,000 to Schiff and was his top contributor.
Candidates supported in the 2002 election cycle included:
- Democratic Senate candidate Bill Bradbury of Oregon
- Missouri Senator Jean Carnahan
- Martha Fuller Clark, a candidate for the House of Representatives in New Hampshire
- Jack Conway, a candidate for the House of Representatives in Kentucky's 3rd District
- Representative Rush D. Holt of New Jersey
- Representative Jay Inslee of Washington
- South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson
- former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk in his Texas senatorial bid
- Representative Rick Larsen of Washington
- Arkansas Attorney General Mark Pryor in his campaign for the U.S. Senate
- Former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate against John Sununu
- Senator Paul D. Wellstone of Minnesota
In addition to their official public endorsements, MoveOn also mobilized clandestine support operations for right-wing Democrats in key Congressional races, such as "Blue Dog" Coalition member Melissa Bean (IL-8TH) in 2006, as part of its effort to gain a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. MoveOn does not disclose these kinds of partisan activities, which could cost them support among its liberal constituencies if fully exposed. 
Structure and personnel
"In June 2005, the names of MoveOn.org and MoveOn PAC changed. The corporation MoveOn.org, tax-exempt under Section 501c4 of the Internal Revenue Code, changed its legal name to MoveOn.org Civic Action. The corporation MoveOn PAC, a political committee registered with the Federal Election Commission, changed its name to MoveOn.org Political Action. Going forward, the name MoveOn.org will refer only to a website, not to any legal organization, and the website will be devoted mainly to activities of MoveOn.org Political Action for the next period of time."
- MoveOn.org Civic Action: "primarily focuses on education and advocacy on important national issues." URL: http://political.moveon.org/
- MoveOn.org Political Action, "a federal political committee, primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect our values." URL: http://political.moveon.org/
- The San Francisco Foundation Community Initiative Funds, a 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the San Francisco Foundation, began serving as a fiscal sponsor for MoveOn in 2000, providing a channel through which individuals could make directed, tax-exempt donations to support its work. In 2001, SFFCIF's IRS Form 990 (available from GuideStar.org) shows that it provided MoveOn with $17,698 in funding. Other financial supporters of MoveOn include
- Iraq Peace Fund, an effort of the Tides Foundation
- Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund
- MoveOn's spending as an advocacy group is listed at Open Secrets: Advocacy Group Spending ("data is based on records released by the Internal Revenue Service on Monday, March 08, 2004").
- In late 2003, Moveon.org became the subject of controversy when it was discovered that websites outside the United States had been set up for non-US citizens to make donations to MoveOn for the explicit purpose of defeating Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Under U.S. law, a presidential campaign cannot legally accept foreign donations (although the U.S. government has itself given money to support electoral candidates that it favors in other countries, such as Nicaragua). While MoveOn is not bound by this restriction, it nonetheless chose not to accept any more funds from overseas to avoid the perception of impropriety. It has not disclosed how much money it received from overseas before shutting these avenues down.
- According to the March 10, 2004, Washington Post, "The Democratic 527 organizations have drawn support from some wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush. They include financier George Soros and his wife, Susan Weber Soros, who gave $5 million to America Coming Together (ACT) and $1.46 million to MoveOn.org; Peter B. Lewis, chief executive of the Progressive Corp., who gave $3 million to ACT and $500,000 to MoveOn; and Linda Pritzker, of the Hyatt hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., who gave $4 million to the joint fundraising committee."
In order to comply with U.S. tax and election laws, the MoveOn family of organizations consists of three entities, each with its own separate website:
- MoveOn.org, a 501c4 organization, primarily focuses on education and advocacy on important national issues. Under U.S. tax laws, a 501c4 organization can engage in lobbying for legislative change but is not allowed to intervene in political campaigns in support of or opposition to any candidate for public ice.
- MoveOn.org PAC, a federal political action committee (PAC), primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect the organization's values. Unlike 501c4 organizations, PACs are allowed to raise "hard money" for individual candidates.
- The MoveOn.org Voter Fund is a 527 committee - the same IRS category as the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the campaign organizations for John Kerry and Bush-Cheney '04, Inc. MoveOn's voter fund primarily runs ads exposing President Bush's failed policies in key "battleground" states.
MoveOn is an online organization with no central office that you might visit, nor phone number to call.
- Website: http://www.moveon.org
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Main article: MoveOn/Related SourceWatch articles
- The Note, ABC News, June 20, 2004.
- Lyndsey Layton and Jonathan Weisman, "Veterans Group Speaks Out on War. Congressional Democrats Let VoteVets.org Talk for Them, Bluntly," Washington Post, February 8, 2007.
- David Von Drehle, "From Screen Savers to Progressive Savior? MoveOn.org Founder Galvanizes Opposition to Bush, Democratic Centrists," Washington Post, June 5, 2003.
- "Americans for Exit - A New MoveOn Ad Project - 'Show Yourself!'" DemocraticUnderground.com, September 27, 2007.
- "Americans for Exit" upload form, MoveOn Political Action.
- "Multi-Million Dollar National Campaign Against Escalation of War to be Announced Today – Effort to Include Advertising, Grassroots Pressure," NoIraqEscalation.org, January 11, 2007.
- Farhad Manjoo, "MoveOn moves in with Pelosi. The netroots group's support proved crucial to passage of the Democrats' Iraq spending plan. But antiwar activists say MoveOn has been co-opted by its access to power," Salon, March 23, 2007.
- Don Hazen, "MoveOn.org -- Successfully Executing Its Vision and Answering Its Critics," AlterNet, March 30, 2007.
- Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, "Democratic Spin Won't End the War in Iraq," PRWatch, May 24, 2007.
- Joshua Frank, "MoveOn.org Surrenders. Silence is Complicity," Dissident Voice, January 10, 2007.
- Norman Solomon, "The Pragmatism of Prolonged War," Common Dreams, March 13, 2007.
- Larisa Alexandrovna, "Our Cold Civil War...," The Huffington Post, October 5, 2007.
- Name change, MoveOn.org.
- Political, MoveOn.org.
- MoveOn.org, OpenSecrets.org.
- "Democrats Forming Parallel Campaign," Washington Post, March 10, 2004.
- MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change by MoveOn.org (Author), Inner Ocean Publishing; (March 2004) ISBN 193072229X.
- "About the MoveOn Family of Organizations" at MoveOn.org.
- "Campaigns" at MoveOn.org.
- "What the Press Says About Us" (news clippings) at MoveOn.org.
- BushGreenwatch.org (Inactive since February 16, 2007.)
- "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest.
- The Daily Kos diary entries on MoveOn.
- John Stauber, How Obama Took Over the Peace Movement, PRWatch.org, March 27, 2009.
- John Stauber, "Beyond MoveOn: Using the Internet for Real Change", Counterpunch, April 28, 2009.
- Jeffrey St. Clair, The Post-Modern Protest Blues, Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests in DC, CounterPunch, April 12, 2013.
- John Stauber, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats, March 15, 2013, CounterPunch.
- Insider, Movement Strategy Brunches: "Campaign Season" Never Ends for the Professional Left, CounterPunch, November 14, 2012.
- Jose Antonio Vargas, "MoveOn Grows Up: What Started Online in '98 Has Transformed Liberal Politicking," Washington Post, October 9, 2008.
- Jeremy Scahill, Rahm Emanuel's Think Tankers Enforce 'Message Discipline' Among 'Liberals', RebelReports.com, April 9, 2009.
- Margaret Flowers, "Open Letter: Time to change course on Obamacare", www.popularresistance.org, November 19, 2013.