Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Men's Journal, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndyKroll.

Get my RSS |

Advertise on MotherJones.com

George Soros Pledges $2 Million To Liberal Groups for 2012 Fight

| Tue May 8, 2012 10:34 AM EDT
George Soros.

Bite your nails no longer, Democrats. Billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, the man who spawned a million right-wing conspiracy theories, has entered the 2012 political money wars in a big way, pledging $1 million each to a pair of liberal independent political groups.

Soros' pledge, as the New York Times first reported, comes as a group of Democratic donors are expected to give as much as $100 million to left-leaning causes to register new voters, get out the vote, and elect Democrats (including President Obama) in the November elections. These donors, many of whom belong to an organization known as the Democracy Alliance, only represent one segment of the universe of big-time funders on the left.

But there's a catch: These heavy-hitting Democratic donors aren't keen on cutting six- and seven-figure checks to election-centric super-PACs such as Priorities USA Action, founded by two former Obama White House aides. The donors prefer bankrolling more established organizations committed to growing the ranks of the Democratic Party and building the progressive movement at the grassroots level.

Soros, for his part, split his pledge between American Bridge 21st Century, a super-PAC building a long-term opposition research hub, and America Votes, which brings together more than 300 progressive organizations to maximize their political clout. "As he has in the past, George is focusing his political giving in 2012 on grassroots organizing and holding conservatives accountable for the flawed policies they promote," Soros spokesman Michael Vachon wrote in a Monday e-mail statement. (The Open Society Foundations, chaired by Soros, have supported Mother Jones' campaign finance reporting.)

Here's more from the Times:

The advertising-oriented Democratic super PACs, including Priorities USA and two groups founded to back Democrats in Congress, remain on the list of organizations that the Democracy Alliance recommends to its members. Robert McKay, who is the chairman of the Democracy Alliance and sits on the board of Priorities USA, said the $100 million expected to be spent this year by alliance members would include some money for election ads, but would most likely favor grass-roots organizing and research groups.

"There is a bias towards funding infrastructure as it relates to the elections," Mr. McKay said. "That means get-out-the-vote efforts" directed toward young voters, single women, black voters and Latinos, he said.

Organizations likely to be a part of the effort include Catalist, which creates voter lists for allied liberal groups; ProgressNow, a network of state-based Web sites for liberal opinion and activism; and the Latino Engagement Fund, a new group that works to register and turn out Latino voters for Democrats. Conservative independent groups are financing similar outreach to Latino voters: the American Action Network, which spent $26 million against Democratic candidates in 2010, last year unveiled the Hispanic Leadership Network, which will seek to mobilize center-right Latino voters.

Scott Walker Recall: Wisconsin Dems Choose Standard-Bearer Today

| Tue May 8, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

Democrats in Wisconsin are headed to the polls to pick a challenger to face Gov. Scott Walker in his recall election on June 5. The two leading candidates, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, offer voters a clear-cut choice: Do you pick the candidate who captures the progressive spirit and populist outrage that triggered Walker's recall? Or the one with the best showing in the polls?

If the recall election were held today, survey after survey shows, Barrett would stand the best chance of defeating Walker in a head-to-head fight. A former five-term US congressman who lost to Walker in the 2010 gubernatorial race, Barrett held a razor-thin 1 percentage point lead over Walker in last week's Marquette University Law School poll, and a slew of others put him well within striking distance. 

$16 Million Later, Scott Walker's Still Deadlocked in Recall Fight

| Thu May 3, 2012 12:12 PM EDT
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Gov. Scott Walker and his conservative allies have spent nearly $17 million to boost his candidacy in Wisconsin's looming recall election. What have they got to show for it?

Nothing, according to a new Marquette University Law School poll.

Despite all the TV ads attacking Democrat Tom Barrett and touting Walker's supposedly job-centric agenda in Wisconsin, all the mailers, websites, and other campaign messaging, Walker trails Barrett by a single percentage point, 47-46, in the new Marquette poll. (The margin of error for the recall election is ±4 percentage points.) What's more, as the Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes, the Marquette poll shows that Walker's approval rating remains frozen at around 50 percent. All that spending and the people of Wisconsin are just as divided as ever on the performance of their governor.

There's more good news in the poll for Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee who lost to Walker in Wisconsin's 2010 gubernatorial election. He leads former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, the other top Democrat in the May 8 recall primary, by a healthy 17 point margin, 38-21. Barrett, it seems, has all but sewn up Democratic nomination, even after labor unions dropped millions to boost Falk.

Should Falk somehow pull off a last-ditch, she'd face an uphill battle against Walker. In the Marquette poll, she trails the governor 49 percent to 43 percent.

More good news for Democrats: President Obama leads presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney 51 percent to 42 percent in the Marquette poll.

Chris Christie: "Do the Right Thing" and Reelect "Courageous" Scott Walker

| Wed May 2, 2012 12:51 PM EDT
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

It's not just the Republican Party's biggest donors rallying behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the run-up to his June 5 recall election.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie swooped in to the Badger State to campaign alongside Walker, calling the embattled governor "courageous" and a principled flag-bearer for the conservative movement, according to Politico. Christie told attendees at a rally in the city of Oak Park to "do the right thing" by re-electing Walker.

"Do you stand behind courageous leaders who stand for their principles or do you walk away from them? Wisconsin's going to answer that question for America," Christie said. "And when you answer that question the right way and you keep Scott Walker in the state house in Madison, believe me—it's going to change America, everybody."

Christie cast Walker's recall as a battle pitting "the people" against "the money [and] special interests from Washington, DC." In Christie's telling, those out-of-state special interests are labor unions, which are spending millions to defeat Walker. The irony, of course, is that Walker has for months flown around the country raking in money for his recall war chest from some of the wealthiest donors in America. Since January he's raised $13.2 million, two-thirds of which came from out-of-state donors. Walker's top donors include Houston-based homebuilding tycoon Bob Perry, who's given $500,000, and Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who's given $250,000.

Christie and the labor unions do agree on one thing: a lot is at stake in Walker's recall fight. A win for Walker would seem to validate his anti-union, deregulatory agenda; a loss would deal him a stunning rebuke, a rejection of the hard-line conservative policies peddled by Walker and fellow GOP governors including Christie, Michigan's Rick Snyder, and Florida's Rick Scott. From now until recall time, Christie said, "Wisconsin is going to be the center of the American political universe."

Here's the video of Christie's appearance, via Politico:

Tue Nov. 18, 2014 6:00 AM EST
Wed Oct. 15, 2014 2:01 PM EDT
Tue Jun. 24, 2014 2:22 PM EDT
Thu Apr. 24, 2014 5:06 AM EDT
Mon Jan. 13, 2014 12:19 PM EST
Mon Dec. 16, 2013 9:47 AM EST