Left-Wing Groups Claim Victory, Fundraise Off Trump Protests

Trump disruption in Chicago celebrated by taxpayer-funded groups

Protestors march in Chicago before a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump / AP
March 15, 2016

Left-wing groups that have received money from the federal government and the MacArthur Foundation celebrated the disruption of Donald Trump’s rally in Chicago and are using the clashes to raise more money.

The progressive organizing group, which boasts more than 8 million members nationwide, took partial credit for protests hours after a Trump rally was canceled in Chicago due to security concerns. Republicans who support Trump "should be on notice," according to one Political Action official.

"Mr. Trump and the Republican leaders who support him and his hate-filled rhetoric should be on notice after tonight’s events," Ilya Sheyman, executive director of Political Action, said in a statement hours after the clashes. "These protests are a direct result of the violence that has occurred at Trump rallies and that has been encouraged by Trump himself from the stage. Our country is better than the shameful, dangerous, and bigoted rhetoric that has been the hallmark of the Trump campaign."

"To all of those who took to the streets of Chicago, we say thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough," Sheyman said. "To Donald Trump, and the GOP, we say, welcome to the general election. Trump and those who peddle hate and incite violence have no place in our politics and most certainly do not belong in the White House."

One day after this statement, Sheyman said it was "dishonest" to "scapegoat" progressive activists for the violence at the canceled Trump rally., which was initially formed in 1998 to organize liberal opposition to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, receives financial support from liberal billionaire George Soros. Soros gave $1.46 million to MoveOn’s Voter Fund in 2004.

MoveOn has also taken money from a wide range of left-wing funds and foundations, including the Compton Foundation, the Shefa Fund, the Steven and Michelle Kirsch Foundation, and the Stern Family Fund.

The group raised nearly $20 million in 2012, $10 million in 2014, and has pulled in nearly $5 million for the 2016 elections to date, according to its most recent filings. MoveOn used the recent Trump protests in Chicago as another avenue of fundraising.

The group’s members voted overwhelmingly to back Bernie Sanders this election cycle. According to a release, 78.6 percent of members voted to endorse Sanders, "shattering MoveOn records with most votes cast and largest margin of victory."

The ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, which has offices in 11 cities, including Chicago, also declared "victory" after the disruptions and called for protesters to "keep the fires going."

"Large numbers of Latinos, Muslims, Black people, Asians, Arabs and whites stood together, out of necessity, to confront and defeat a great threat to the people. The threat is very real," the group said in a press release following the events.

The group launched three days after September 11, 2001 with the intent of opposing military intervention following the terrorist attacks committed that day. It has since become involved in other political issues, including the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and has come under fire from numerous groups, including other anti-war groups, for its radical and anti-Zionist views.

ANSWER, which operates as a 501(c)3, has received funding from the Progress Unity Fund (PUF), a group founded in 2001 to "break down the barriers of divisiveness and discrimination that exist in the world, and replace them with a sense of solidarity."

The Progress Unity Fund has provided hundreds of thousands in donations to ANSWER since its inception.

The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights is another organization involved in the Chicago protests. The group describes itself as "dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society."

The group received a $450,000 grant from the Marguerite Casey Foundation in January 2016 for leadership development and network development, according to the foundation’s website.

The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s largest independent foundations, giving hundreds of millions in donations to liberal organizations and causes every year, provided a $575,000 grant in 2014 to the organization to be used over the course of two years, according to its website.

The National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino activist organization in the United States, was also involved in the Trump protests.

La Raza gets two thirds of its funding from individuals and corporations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Express Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. La Raza also receives funds from the United States government.

Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, previously served as La Raza’s senior vice president for the office of research, advocacy, and legislation.

Muñoz, who sat on the board of directors at Soros’s Open Society Institute before joining the White House, is married to human rights attorney Amit Pandya, a former counselor to the Open Society Institute.

After Muñoz joined President Obama’s team, funding from the government to La Raza nearly tripled, rising from $4.1 million to $11 million.

None of the groups returned a request for comment by press time.