I used to be a big fan of Darcy Burner.  She ran two fearless campaigns for Congress up in Washington state, and even though she lost both campaigns, she was someone progressives could be proud of.  But after her failed runs for Congress, she founded ProgessiveCongress.org, a 501(c)(3) a non-partisan non-profit (basically this means that her organization is not allowed to lobby a whole lot).  So of course, like most political 501(c)(3)s, her organization has a parallel 501(c)(4) so that it can lobby and engage in political activity to its heart's content, the Progressive Congress Action Fund.  She recently hired two bloggers from Daily Kos and started a new-fangled project, Fix It And Pass It (dot org).  It wants to have 1 million people calling Congress on February 24 and 25, ostensibly calling the House first asking them to hold the Senate health bill hostage1 to a reconciliation fix.  I happen to think they should pass the Senate bill as is, and then follow up with a reconciliation bill afterwords to fix the rough edges.

But that's not really the issue I'm trying to present here.  The FixItAndPassIt.org site is essentially three things: an invite to join the aforementioned Facebook group, a Donate page, and a bunch of links leading back to the Progressive Congress website, the 501(c)(3).  Generally, the funds for that and the funds for these lobbying efforts (i.e. (c)(4) efforts) ought to be separated.  Their 'About Us' page links back to the explicitly non-partisan Progressive Congress.  Given that this calling effort is targeted to Democrats only, whatever else it is, it is not non-partisan.  There also ought be a firewall between the funds because it pertains to the donors.  Donations to the non-partisan 501(c)(3), Progressive Congress, are tax deductible.  Donations to the lobbying group, Progressive Congress Action Fund, are not tax deductible.  If someone goes to Fix It And Pass It website, clicks on 'about us', then clicks the donate button from that page, their money could not be used to fund this project.  This whole mixing and overlapping of the two organizations and presenting them as one (whether intentionally or as the result of pure sloppiness) is rather dangerous organizationally.  It  makes the operation look unprofessional at best and an attempt to put together a site in a hurry so money can start being collected at worst.

I am sure these people - Darcy Burner, Noelle Bell and Eve Gittelson all believe in what they are doing.  After all, who doesn't want health care reform?  However, I will point out that one of the key contributors to the "Fix It And [then] Pass It" project, Eve Gittelson, believes that President Obama does not care about the 45,000 people dying each year due to the lack of health insurance every year.  Gittelson agrees with a poster on her Facebook group devoted to this purpose saying this.

Be that as it may, people are being asked to give money to a project sponsored by a public entity, and no one knows who sits on the Board of that entity (the Action Fund, not the non-partisan non-profit).  The associated non-partisan non-profit has on the Board highly regarded people like the co-founders of MoveOn.org and the publisher of Daily Kos.  But we have next to no information about the Progressive Congress Action Fund, the organization created for political and lobbying involvement.  We know Darcy Burner is its Executive Director and two bloggers are 'key contributors' to the most recent project.  But that's it.  So I have taken the initiative to call the number listed in the press release announcing this project:
Doug Gordon (202) 494-5141
I left a message with my number and my email address in which I listed my concerns as above, asking the specific questions:
  1. Would donations to the non-partisan C3, Progressive Congress (NOT the Action fund) be used for FixItAndPassIt.org efforts?
  2. Does the non-partisan non-profit and the Action Fund have the same Board of Directors?  If not, who are in the Board of Directors for the Action Fund (the 501(c)(4))?
I have not yet received a reply from Doug.  If and when I do, I will let everyone know.  If you would like to make your own calls, the number is above.  If you would like to read up on the differences between a 501(c)(3) non partisan organization and a 501(c)(4) political and lobbying organization, you can get a quick refresher here.

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Lawrence O'Donnel has been wrong before

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