If you asked Americans who carries the most clout in political funding, liberals would typically answer corporations, while conservatives might name labor unions, and both would have a point, but few would probably think to mention a PAC called ActBlue. In fact, however, since its launch in June 2004, this PAC has become America's top political donor, ahead of both the AFSCME and AT&T in contributions made between 1989 and 2012, according to data compiled from FEC sources by the Center for Responsive Politics. According to ActBlue's own website, the organization had raised over $290 million in contributions as of September 16, 2012. Per the Center for Responsive Politics' most recent tallies, over $18 million of this total was raised during 2011-2012, with leading chunks going to California Democratic Congressional candidates, among others.
Where is this money coming from? Well, here's the interesting part: anyone can donate online. ActBlue functions as a clearinghouse for donations raised from other sources. If an individual or organization wants to raise money through other online or mobile channels, they can funnel it through ActBlue.
The Direct Route: A Soros Connection
Sometimes the donations are made directly, if quietly. For example, one investigator was able to document an instance of ActBlue receiving a donation from George Soros, whose fundraising organization Democracy Alliance has maintained a behind-the-scenes relationship with ActBlue. (For more on this, see Andrew Stiles' article "The Soros Summit -FB exclusive:Inside the secret Miami meeting-George Soros’s liberal conspiracy ", posted on FR with commentary by STARWISE.)
The Indirect Route: Another Soros Connection
Sometimes the donations are more indirect. For example, one fundraising partner of ActBlue is the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), another PAC dedicated to electing what it characterizes as "bold progressives."
The PCCC was cofounded by Adam Green, former Strategic Campaigns and Civic Communications Director for Soros' funding vehicle MoveOn.org, and Stephanie Taylor, who worked for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO before joining Green at MoveOn.org. Using channels such as former Congressman Alan Grayson and actions like the Wisconsin Recall, the PCCC has pushed Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration to support an even more radical agenda, with an insistence so confrontational and uncompromising that more establishment-oriented fundraisers like former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have labeled it tactically "retarded."
This official contempt, however, has not stopped the PCCC from contributing significantly to Democratic coffers. Riding the coattails of Elizabeth Warren's warm-up for Bill Clinton's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the PCCC placed ads on Google and Facebook, the latter using ActBlue to sell t-shirts and bumper stickers displaying the slogan "I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party."
Where's the Accountability?
The PCCC is operating openly here, but what's to stop anonymous contributors and front groups from using channels like, say, PayPal to send donations to external sites for funneling through ActBlue? Apparently nothing. In November 2008 Michelle Malkin followed up on the research of Kenneth Timmerman by quoting an insider source who opined:
I have over 7 years experience in the payment services industry, and I have never seen such flagrant disregard for online security as I have seen on Obama’s Website and ACTBLUE (DNC PAC). In an age of identity theft and rampant online fraud, it is unconscionable for anyone to maintain an ecommerce site without the basic security features.. .There is no plausible explanation for these security violations other than wanting to skirt around campaign finance rules. I would vigorously argue that a large portion of Obama’s $579 million in individual contributions is in violation of campaign finance laws. Many donations may have been made by non US citizens, made in excess of the $2,300 individual limit, and made on stolen credit card numbers. . .This fraudulent donation scandal goes deeper than just the presidential election. 33 Democratic Candidates running for Senate have sites that are out of compliance. And a large number of Democratic House seats as well.
That was 2008. Has anything changed in the last four years? Perhaps, but if so, the updates went far enough below the radar that I did not find anything about them while writing this piece. As far as I know, the donations remain unaccountable. But to be sure, not uncounted.