EXCLUSIVE: Who’s Bankrolling the National Popular Vote Movement

voter fraud laws ID electoral college popular vote movementThe nonprofit organization building a coalition of states that favor choosing the president by popular vote promotes itself as nonpartisan, but is financed by millions of dollars from left-leaning groups.

Some of the leaders of the movement are prominent Republicans, and most of the funding for the nonprofit, National Popular Vote Inc., has come from a wealthy Democrat and a billionaire independent.

However, many large, liberal organizations back the movement, according to the Capital Research Center, a conservative investigative think tank that monitors nonprofits. It gathered donor information on National Popular Vote Inc. using a commercial database.

The Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, for example, gave $1 million to the nonprofit in 2011.

Jonathan Soros, 49, heads an investment firm and is the son of George Soros, a hedge fund manager known for financing left-leaning causes around the world. Although the Soros Foundation does not publicly list contact information, The Daily Signal sought comment through the George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations.

The Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation made donations totaling $1 million to National Popular Vote Inc. from 2008 to 2012, according to the most recent data. The Silberstein Foundation gave $350,000 in 2008, $250,000 in 2009, $250,000 in 2010, and $150,000 in 2012. The Daily Signal unsuccessfully sought comment from the Silberstein Foundation.

In 2015, an article in Inside Philanthropy reported: “Nearly every major progressive policy and advocacy group in the U.S. has received money from Silberstein in recent years.”

“We’re not going to relitigate or redo the results of this election. This election was run under a set of rules,” Silberstein, a board member for National Popular Vote, said on liberal activist Ralph Nader’s podcast in late 2016, after Donald Trump’s election as president.

“It’s not useful to change the rules of the game after the game is over with so that you can get a different result,” he said. “If you really want to do something, change the rules now in time for the next election.”

Seeking a Compact Among States

Trump is the fifth president in American history to win the Electoral College and lose the popular vote. Although Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 304 to 227 votes in the Electoral College, Clinton rolled up about 2.9 million more votes in big states such as New York and California.

The nonprofit is lobbying states to adopt what is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact requires a member state to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote—regardless of which presidential candidate wins the state.

The interstate compact would snap into place only when the number of member states adds up to 270 electoral votes, the total required under the Electoral College to win the presidency. The initiative is about two-thirds of the way there.

“We could find no conservative institutional donors to the organization,” Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, told The Daily Signal. “Did Charles Koch write a personal check? We don’t know. But we found 16 instances of  grants from institutional donors, and none were conservative.”

American presidents never have been elected by a strictly popular vote across the nation. In presidential elections since 1804, under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, voters actually vote for electors who are pledged to support their candidate in a later Electoral College vote.

Proponents contend this system ensures that every state, no matter how small, has a voice. Opponents, including many Democrat presidential candidates, contend that rural areas get disproportionate power under the Electoral College.

Colorado’s Democrat governor signed a bill making that state part of the compact, and the legislatures of New Mexico and Delaware recently sent similar bills to Democrat governors who said they would sign. That will set the movement at 189 electoral votes out of the 270.

Another major donor to the compact was the Sandler Foundation, which contributed $100,000 in 2010. The organization’s 2015 filing with the Internal Revenue Service shows it gave millions to liberal groups, including the Center for American Progress, the American Civil Liberties Union, EarthJustice California, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The Sandler Foundation did not respond to inquiries from The Daily Signal for this story.

The Tides Foundation, a major funder of left-leaning causes, contributed $25,000 to the popular vote group in 2009. The organization has donated to the ACLU Foundation, the Center for American Progress, Media Matters for America, Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood, among other liberal groups.

The George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations has given millions to the Tides Foundation, according to the Capitol Research Center. The Tides Foundation did not respond to The Daily Signal for this story.

Big Spenders

National Popular Vote’s 2015 filing with the IRS, the most recent publicly available, shows it had revenue of $2 million.

The bulk of the group’s budget doesn’t come from other organizations, said Saul Anuzis, former chairman of Michigan’s Republican Party and a longtime GOP operative who advised Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“As for the funding, two individuals have put up over 95 percent of all the money,” Anuzis, a national spokesman for the effort, told The Daily Signal. “A liberal progressive, John Koza, and a conservative, pro-life tax protester, Tom Golisano. My guess [is that] several hundred others have given to one of the organizations behind the effort.”

Koza, chairman of National Popular Vote Inc., is a California businessman who was an inventor of the scratch-off lottery ticket. He then marketed the idea to states—similar to what he’s doing with the popular vote compact.

Koza has been a donor to Democratic candidates in federal elections. Politico reported that Koza spent $14 million promoting the popular vote compact among states by 2014, and that he planned to budget $2 million per year from then on.

“John Koza regularly maxes out in donations to Democratic candidates, and he has not been an insignificant Democratic donor,” Capital Research Center’s Walter said. “He is on the record saying that the re-election of George W. Bush [in 2004] inspired him to start this.”

Koza contributed the maximum amount of money, $2,700, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; the re-election campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; the 2016 presidential campaign of former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat; and the 2016 presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton. He has written checks for tens of thousands to the Democratic National Committee and its fundraising arms for House and Senate races.

Golisano, who founded the payroll and benefits services company Paychex, has spent $10 million of his own money to promote the compact. Last year, however, Politico reported that Golisano had pulled back from the effort.

Golisano also is the founder of the New York Independence Party and a three-time unsuccessful candidate for governor.

His political contributions don’t entirely reflect a conservative viewpoint. He gave to the presidential campaigns of two Democrats, John Kerry and Dick Gephardt, in 2004, and to the Senate campaign of Charlie Crist, a Florida Republican who became an independent, in 2010.

‘Never Partisan’

“The National Popular Vote movement has never been a partisan movement. It is a bipartisan coalition of Republicans, Democrats, and independents who believe that every American voter should feel politically valued in every presidential election,” Anuzis said.

The former Michigan GOP leader noted that related legislation passed Republican-controlled legislative chambers in Arizona, Oklahoma, and New York. Of those states, only New York has joined the compact so far.

The president of National Popular Vote is Barry Fadem, a California election lawyer who like Koza also contributes to Democrat candidates in congressional and presidential races, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Fadem contributed to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and to the re-election of former Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, among others.

According to tax filings, the organization’s secretary is Chris Pearson, a Vermont state senator affiliated with the state’s Progressive Party. Pearson is the former director of presidential election reform for FairVote, a left-leaning voting rights and good government group. He was an aide to Sanders when the senator was in the House of Representatives.

As a specific kind of nonprofit under the tax code, National Popular Vote is allowed to lobby state lawmakers to join the interstate compact. Koza also established an educational nonprofit, the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections, that is prohibited from direct lobbying. It had $550,504 in revenue, according to its 2016 IRS filing.

“National Popular Vote is indeed a 501(c)(4) and focused on advocacy efforts in the states,” said Patrick Rosenstiel, a spokesman for the organization, referring to the tax code. “IRPE is indeed a 501(c)(3) and 100 percent committed to education efforts surrounding the Electoral College, the current system, and potential Electoral College reforms.”

Rosenstiel, a Republican, is chairman of the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections, the educational nonprofit.

‘Woeful Ignorance’

But the compact should be a tough sell as a bipartisan effort, particularly since it “is mostly funded by the left,” said Hans von Spakovsky, manager of The Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

The recent movement of three states toward the compact is worrisome for von Spakovsky.

“Legislators in those three states have displayed woeful ignorance about the good and rational reasons for having the Electoral College,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal. “Delaware and New Mexico are even more puzzling. These are small states most protected by the Electoral College. A national popular vote will give them less influence.”

The recent successes for the movement are likely to boost awareness and the potential for fundraising, Rosenstiel said.

“Recent success certainly drives awareness about both the substantial shortcomings of the current system and the state-based plan to address those shortcomings,” Rosenstiel told The Daily Signal. “Momentum certainly drives awareness and awareness always results in a steady uptick in political and financial support. We are grateful to all who contribute their voice, talents, and dollars to make this happen.”

The other states that joined the interstate compact earlier include Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The District of Columbia also signed up.

Although Trump won the presidency through the Electoral College while losing the popular vote to Clinton, he previously indicated he favored elections being decided by the popular vote.

“I would rather see it where you went with simple votes,” Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview on CBS after he won the election. “You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this, because it brings all states into play.”

Trump on ‘Brilliance’ of Electoral College

Trump last week said on Twitter that he had a change of heart.

“Campaigning for the Popular Vote is much easier & different than campaigning for the Electoral College. It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon,” Trump tweeted. “The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win.”

In more tweets, Trump added:

Other presidents who won the office without the popular vote were George W. Bush in 2000, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, and John Quincy Adams in 1824.

Nearly every Democratic presidential candidate and many congressional Democrats have called for eliminating the Electoral College.

Asked whether Democrats’ dominance of the movement makes it a tougher bipartisan sale, Anuzis, the spokesman who is a former GOP chairman in Michigan, stressed that what Democrats want isn’t what the compact does.

The compact, he said, keeps the Electoral College intact while allowing states to choose their method of awarding electors who ultimately vote for one of the candidates for president.

“It’s not that simple, and it’s important not to mix the two proposals,” Anuzis said. “National Democrats favor the elimination of the Electoral College and using a direct national popular vote to elect the president.”

“[The compact] is a bipartisan proposal that takes a federalist approach, which creates an … agreement between the states that preserves the Electoral College, therefore states’ rights to regulate, administer, and determine how electors are chosen to the Electoral College by using the national popular vote.”

Reprinted with permission from - The Daily Signal - by Fred Lucas

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Paul W
1 year ago

All alt-leftists, of course. Was there any doubt? Bottom line; an amendment to the Constitution is required to abolish the electoral system. With that being said, it’s safe for now,,,but only for now. There’s a whole new generation of brainwashed, lo-info zombies perched to become the country’s biggest bloc of voters. They haven’t a clue about reality and the real world. That ain’t good!

Keith Clark
1 year ago

Notice that everything was fine until the Criminal Boss Hillary lost an election?

1 year ago

Talk about stealing votes and the Presidency. Hillary May have won the popular vote, maybe, can those votes be verified? They want children to vote. They have always been for illegals voting. This should NEVER happen.

1 year ago

The Dems will do anything to get back In power and will In turn take this Country down the tubes. They want the Electoral college to go, change the voting age to sixteen, let the illegals vote and anything else they can think of. It is sad to see some Republicans are all for these changes which makes me think they are really Democrats. Of course you have all the Dems big money donors pushing all of this and I believe the main one is George Soros, among many others. If any of you saw the Glenn Beck Show when… Read more »

Dean Shiner
1 year ago

The Demonrats aren’t able to Compete with Trump any other way so they are Putting our Constituion under constant ATTACK. We have to Stop them.

Michael Javick
1 year ago

It’s a horrible Pandora’s box…just waiting to be opened…CIVIL WAR 2 anyone?

1 year ago

Just leave the voting procedure to the states and leave the electoral college alone! We are a Republic NOT a Democracy so with the electoral college every vote DOES count not just the ones Democrats want to count! Democrats think they are owed whatever they want and make no mistake they are trying to get uneducated and ignorant voters to agree with them, that Democrats should be back in power everywhere! If that ever happens, the Democrats will continue to find ways to make anything conservative and constitutional illegal!!! Obama started this with his ideas of transformation and Clinton was… Read more »

1 year ago

Arrest George Soros and all these liberal billionaires that are causing treason and sedition to the United States of America. you want to see the communistic movement stop get rid of George Soros.

1 year ago

Hmmm.. i cant help but wonder how many of those votes for hillary were cast by illegals in California and people who’ve never worked in both California and New York. Id like to counter their c mmunist agenda by proposing that no able bodied person collecting welfare gets to vote as well as illegals given drivers licenses caught voting are immediately interned pending deportation.

William White
1 year ago

Clinton got 2.9 million more votes in California and New York according to this story. There are around 11 million illegals in our country. Other stories say that many millions of illegals voted illegally in the 2016 election. So, that likely means that Clinton’s so called lead in the popular vote were 2.9 or more million illegal votes. We need to take these reports with a grain of salt and remember that the MSM have proven themselves to be serial liars. The same can be said for most Dem politicians and more than a few Rep politicians.

1 year ago

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t want to do away with the electoral college, she just wants to make it tuition free.

Press ONE for English
1 year ago

This otherwise excellent article makes one common mistake. It seems to want to characterize this as a”republican vs. Democrat issue even though later in the article it points out some Republican support for this mess. There are many fine, decent, principled and intelligent people in the Republican party. But on the whole the party has become, to crib a phrase from the article, just another “left-leaning group”. For years now I have said about politics both local and national that the Democrats are the problem and the Republicans are not the solution. I don’t see any easy or certain way… Read more »

1 year ago

The electoral college should remain as stated PERIOD END OF DISCUSSION. That’s the only way the smaller states has a voice in the election process……Might know the leftist an demorats are in favor of the popular vote,,,, non sense

1 year ago

How could you be so callous to the values and traditions of your own country as to allow ignorant, uneducated people to vote in droves who know nothing about the Constitution? Back in the good ole days when immigrants followed our laws, they learned about US history and were required to pass a test. Now there is total mayhem in our country, financed by conglomerates backed by the likes of Anti-American Soros and many others. This upcoming election will be the fight of our lives!

1 year ago

I understand the theory of one person-one vote. How does that apply in a state whose Electoral College votes would go to whoever wins the popular vote even if you did not vote for that candidate.

1 year ago

Socialism under a different guise. Freedom is one generation away from extinction I believe President Reagan stated. It’s happening under our noses. Do we see it?

Edward Curtis
1 year ago

Part of a message from President Trump, “The Democrats are getting very “strange”, is not exactly accurate. If the word “getting” is removed, the statement would be absolutely accurate. Of course they want to lower the voting age to 16. They want to take an early advantage of the LIBERAL/SOCIALISTIC ideas that teachers have been pounding into their heads for 11 years. Notice I did not say teaching. A teacher’s job is not to indoctrinate our impressionable young on “what to think”. Their job is to teach “HOW TO THINK”. We already have a large cadre of immigrants trying to… Read more »

Stephen Russell
1 year ago

In theory say Dems trash Electoral College, they get in & everything backfires IE Recall Electorial College anew,
No Long range Vision for Nation by Dems save JFK, RFK

Larry Johnson
1 year ago

Since the Electoral College is established in the US Constitution, is it legal for states to enter into a contract the purpose of which is to bypass the presidential election rules set forth by the Constitution? There’s a procedure set forth whereby the Constitution can be amended. But this whole movement to me seems unconstitutional. My question is, can this be challenged in the courts by those offended by it (us middle of the country folks) should it prove to be “successful”? If one carries this movement to its logical conclusion, they could conceivably overturn the entire Constitution, and replace… Read more »

1 year ago

I know there are those who read or hear references to a civil war on our horizon. When you have an ‘evil’ on your door step as the DNC’ommunist Party is bringing to us you need to be prepared. It is terrible to think that our own congress will get us to this point but it sure looks like it. The only answer I can come up with is for them to pay attention to this ‘if you bring it you will loose’! You are a bunch of cowards, especially on the Left, we know who you are and when… Read more »

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