Liberal Dark Money Group Launches $75 Million Digital Campaign Against Trump

President Donald Trump/ Getty Images
November 4, 2019

A Washington, D.C.-based liberal group is launching a $75 million digital campaign against President Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 elections.

ACRONYM, a 501(c)(4) dark money group and an affiliated political action committee, plans to spend heavily in critical swing states such as North Carolina, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, in an effort to bolster the eventual Democratic nominee, according to the New York Times. The campaign, led by former Obama campaign personnel and super PAC veterans, is called "Four is Enough."

"The gun on this general election does not start when we have a nominee; it started months ago," said David Plouffe, an adviser to ACRONYM who worked as Obama's 2008 campaign manager. "If the things that need to happen don’t happen in these battleground states between now and May or June, our nominee will never have time to catch up."

Trump's reelection campaign has spent more than $26 million nationally on Facebook and Google advertising, which is more than the top four Democratic presidential candidates have spent on those platforms combined, according to the Times. The group hopes to put a dent in the spending gap with a series of negative ads aimed at turning online viewers away from the president, while Democrat voters pick a nominee from a crowded primary field.

"Our nominee is going to be broke, tired, have to pull together the party and turn around on a dime and run a completely different race for a completely different audience," Plouffe said. "If the hole is too steep to dig out of, they’re not going to win."

Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised more than $300 million for the 2020 election. The RNC and Trump campaign have $158 million cash on hand—nearly double the amount the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee held at the same point in 2011, Politico reported.

Tara McGowan, an ACRONYM co-founder who previously served as digital director for the Priorities USA super PAC, told the Times that Democrats need to increase exposure on multiple digital platforms, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, to combat Trump's advantage as an incumbent. The dark money group will also boost local news coverage that doesn’t reflect positively on Trump.

McGowan says the group has raised 40 percent of its $75 million budget goal. The donations will be made across ACRONYM, which doesn't disclose its donors, and PACRONYM, the non-profit's PAC that is required to disclose its funding.

"We’re absolutely, as a party, not doing enough and I don’t know that $75 million is enough," McGowan said. "We can’t afford to not do this work right now." She went on to downplay the hypocrisy of a liberal group not disclosing their donors, saying, "We have to play on the field that exists."

ACRONYM has already played a major role in Democrats' campaign spending. McGowan co-founded ACRONYM in 2017 and went on to coordinate all of the digital advertising for Gov. Ralph Northam's (D., Va.) successful gubernatorial race. In addition to donating $150,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia in September, ACRONYM was also behind a $3 million ad campaign in 36 states to register new voters before the midterm elections in 2018, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported.