Soros-Backed Groups Pick 2018 'Target List'

PICO Action Fund, Center for Popular Democracy, and People's Action set sights on nearly 20 congressional Republicans

Billionaire investor George Soros / Getty Images
November 30, 2017

A group financed by liberal billionaire George Soros and an organization approved of the Democracy Alliance, a secretive club of deep-pocketed liberal donors, have identified nearly 20 congressional Republicans that they will target during the 2018 elections, according to internal documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The documents, which were obtained at the Democracy Alliance's secretive fall investment conference that took place Nov. 15-18 at the posh La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., sheds light on the upcoming electoral action plans of a progressive organization in the recommended funding network of the alliance.

The PICO Action Fund, which has an organized presence in 21 states, was incorporated in 2012 as a 501(c)4 social welfare organization to "support and engage people of faith in efforts to eliminate poverty and racism, promote civic engagement and participation, and increase economic opportunity in the United States." It is tied to the PICO National Network, an Oakland, Calif.-based social services group that bills itself as "nonpartisan" organization.

The PICO Action Fund will work in coordination with the Center for Popular Democracy, a New York-based nonprofit that contains old chapters of the controversial and now-defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); and People's Action, a Chicago-based left-wing group that pushes for "structural reform," to target key Republican-held districts during the 2018 elections, according to the fund's civic engagement plan.

Soros, a founding partner of the alliance, has combined to give millions from his Open Society Foundations to all three groups.

"Over the next two cycles, the PICO Action Fund will challenge Trump and his dangerous agenda on all fronts—in the streets, in state houses and Congress, and at the ballot box," the group's agenda reads.

"Looking ahead to 2018, the PICO Action Fund is focused on preventing a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (recognizing that even in the best-case scenario Republicans will maintain control); taking ground in the U.S. House; and especially working to support efforts to elect progressive governors and state legislators who will oversee census and redistricting in 2020-2021," it continues.

Its civic engagement plan talks of prioritizing voters of color, women, millennials, and "breaking dominant norms of the voting industry that has misled Democratic establishment toward a failing strategy of chasing after the ever-elusive white swing voter with moderate messages that turn off the base." The group additionally seeks to "dismantle the arrangement to keep voters marginalized through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and a white-male dominated DC consulting culture that feeds its own coffers at the expense of the effective voter engagement strategy."

The Republicans identified by the group as "Tier 1" targets include: Reps. Jeff Denham (R., Calif.), Steve Knight (R., Calif.), Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), Mike Coffman (R., Colo.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R., Fla.) open seat, Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R., N.J.), Ryan Costello (R., Pa.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), and Charlie Dent's (R., Pa.) open seat.

Republicans on their "Tier 2" target list include Reps. David Valadao (Calif.), Ed Royce (Calif.), Mimi Walters (Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jason Lewis (Minn.), Steve Pearce's (N.M) open seat, Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), and Pete Sessions (Texas).

The groups are additionally focusing on a number of seats that will be open during the 2018 elections that are currently occupied by Democrats.

PICO Action Fund 2018 Civic Engagement Plan -- Congressional Targets by Joe Schoffstall on Scribd

The PICO Action Fund and Center for Popular Democracy are both recommended organizations for funding purposes for Democracy Alliance members, as their 2020 vision for the alliance shows.

The PICO Action Fund did not return a request for comment on its 2018 electoral strategy laid out in the memo by press time.

The groups working on the 2018 efforts also have ties to other prominent Soros-funded groups, have been involved in a number of anti-Trump protests, and have direct connections to massive "resistance" networks that will focus on upcoming elections.

The Center for Popular Democracy is closely linked to Make the Road New York, a Latino organizing group that has nearly 19,000 dues-paying members and is also funded by Soros. The groups teamed up on the "Corporate Backers of Hate" campaign that "named and shamed" companies or groups they said could benefit from President Trump's policies.

Andrew Friedman, now the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, cofounded Make the Road in 1997. Friedman sits on the board of directors of Make the Road and its action fund.

Ana Maria Archilla, also co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, was the co-executive director of Make the Road before moving to her current position.

Marbre Stahly-Butts, a policy advocate at the Center for Popular Democracy, was a George Soros Justice Fellow before joining the group.

Javier Valdes, the co-executive director of Make the Road, serves as the board chair of the Center for Popular Democracy.

The Center for Popular Democracy and Make the Road passed hundreds of thousands of dollars between each other, the Free Beacon previously reported.

Make the Road was also reported to have been behind the "spontaneous" protests at New York's JFK Airport following Trump's initial Muslim travel ban. The protests, despite being billed as organic, had been planned since the day after the presidential election.

The Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, the 501(c) 4 sister organization of the Center for Popular Democracy, also leads an $80 million anti-Trump network that was launched earlier this year.

The network, which spans across 32 states and has 48 local partners, seeks to mobilize voters and fight voter identification laws. The effort will also focus on gerrymandering and automatic voter registration programs for the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, has thrown his support behind the multi-million dollar anti-Trump network.

"This national network, led by working class people of color and immigrants, will supply the power and the fight we need to resist the Trump administration's all-out assault on American values," Ellison said of the effort. "I look forward to standing with CPD Action's leaders in the streets and in Congress to win real progressive change."