Dems Pour Money Into Virginia Ahead of Crucial Elections

The Virginia State Capitol in downtown Richmond, Virginia / Getty Images
October 14, 2019

Prominent Democratic donors and groups have pushed more than $13 million into Virginia in an attempt to oust Republican politicians from the control of the legislature.

Virginia, one of four states that have legislative elections in November, has been viewed as a pivotal state to recapture power by the nation's most prominent liberal donors and organizations. Those outside players are injecting large swaths of cash into Virginia in hopes of flipping the legislature. Republicans currently possess a one-seat advantage in the state's 40-seat Senate and a 3-seat majority in its 100-member House of Delegates.

The state was identified by the largest liberal donor network as being central to their goals of taking back progressive power on a structural level. The Democracy Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 secretive liberal millionaires and billionaires, has injected more than $1.83 billion into progressive infrastructure since its inception in 2005.

At the donor club's most recent retreat in Atlanta this past spring, the group passed out numerous confidential materials to its partners and representatives from left-wing organizations in attendance during its closed-door meetings. The Washington Free Beacon was on site for the gathering and obtained a number of the documents, including its overall investment goals leading up to the 2020 elections. The alliance has focused more on funding liberal organizations in the past but would "redouble" its upcoming efforts on state-based actions to expand political power.

Virginia was mentioned numerous times in its confidential investment strategy. Within the documents, the group spoke of its overall spending plan that totals at least $275 million for the 2020 election cycle. The alliance would use its State POWER Funds, a collaborative of funds that make lucrative investments in state endeavors, to accomplish these goals. "Changing the laws and policies that maintain and perpetuate this concentration of power is the only way that the DA's vision for an inclusive economy, fair democracy, safe and sustainable planet, and equitable and just nation will ever be realized," the group wrote.

The donor club set an $18 million budget and recommended its partners invest $12 million in the New American Majority Fund, a fund that addresses "chronic underinvestment in state-based organizations" by allocating resources to build power to "advocate for progressive policy change, mobilize underrepresented voters, and elect progressive champions." The New American Majority Fund's 2019 and 2020 benchmarks called for $10 million to be used for year-round organizing in Virginia and seven other states.

The group's Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, works to build power in communities "most impacted by climate change," or, as they write, communities with people of color and indigenous people. This fund would target five states in hopes of electing a "climate equity majority," including Virginia. The Climate Equity Fund set a total estimated budget of $21.5 million.

The State Victory Fund, its largest and most ambitious fund with a $200 million estimated budget, would be used to stop President Donald Trump and for the likes of year-round organizing and resourcing efforts in Virginia and Wisconsin to win judicial and legislative seats needed to control redistricting, ballot access, and progressive policy.

So far this year, more than $13 million worth of funds from major liberal groups and donors can be identified as going into Virginia, some of those funds also with connections to the Democracy Alliance or its more prominent known members.

The Virginia Plus PAC, which has contributed $200,000 to Virginia Democrats this year, lists its treasurer in Federal Election Commission papers as Joan Huffer, who sits on the board of the Democracy Alliance. Huffer also contributed $20,000 to the PAC, filings show. Shekar Narasimhan, another alliance board member, wrote a $20,000 check to the PAC. Albert Dwoskin, a prominent liberal anti-vaccination advocate who in the past was identified as a member of the secretive alliance, gave $30,000 to the PAC.

Liberal billionaire George Soros, a co-founder of the alliance, last month disbursed $350,000 to Planned Parenthood Virginia's committee from the Democracy PAC, which was formed earlier this year for the financier to fund liberal groups leading up to the 2020 elections. Soros's donation to Planned Parenthood Virginia was the largest outside contribution the committee has ever received.

Additionally, NextGen America, a nonprofit founded by hedge fund billionaire and Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, also a known member of the Democracy Alliance, dropped $1 million into the state to register at least 12,000 millennial voters. Steyer also personally invested $110,000 into Virginia efforts.

Many other liberal groups and donors have also pushed millions into Virginia endeavors.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group largely financed by Michael Bloomberg, said they would put $2.5 million in the state before election day. EMILY's List, which works to elect pro-choice female candidates, and Priorities USA, the largest liberal super PAC, have combined to pour $2.1 million into the state. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee committed $1.3 million. The League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group, has invested $1 million in the state.

Forward Majority, which focuses on candidates running in state legislative races, dumped $500,000 into independent expenditures. The Future Now Fund, which also focuses on winning state legislative majorities, has poured $400,000 into Virginia. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group founded by former attorney general Eric Holder and backed by President Barack Obama, has contributed nearly $260,000.

Care in Action, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Giffords PAC, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, have combined for nearly $1 million in state donations.

Michael Bills, a major Democratic donor and founder of the Charlottesville-based investment firm Blue Asset Management LLC, has spent $1.7 million in Virginia. Sonjia Smith, Bills's wife, added more than $900,000 in contributions, bringing their total Virginia donations to over $2 million.

"Every Republican in the country should be alarmed by what’s happening in Virginia," said Dave Abrams, the communications director for the Republican State Leadership Committee. "Liberal billionaires from across the country are underwriting a socialist takeover of the commonwealth, funneling huge amounts of money to candidates in the likeness of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. If we don’t stop them now, Virginia will be lost—and any state could be next."

The Democratic Party of Virginia did not respond to a request for comment on the donations.