A new liberal group with major backing from leftist billionaire George Soros has declared its intention to raise $75 million to defeat President Bush and other conservatives next year in an effort separate from the Democratic Party and the new campaign-finance restrictions imposed on it. The McCain-Feingold law, taking effect for the first time this election cycle, has cut off the Democratic Party’s much-needed flow of soft money. So liberal activists are forming new groups not subject to the restrictions. Through June, the Republican National Committee raised $55 million in hard money, the DNC $18 million. Individuals and political action committees can each give only small amounts in hard money, but soft money donations are unlimited. America Coming Together (ACT), the just-founded political action committee (PAC) that can raise both hard and soft money, may be the most ambitious new group so far. In announcing its formation last month, organizers said it planned to raise $75 million to defeat Bush and other conservatives. Soros, who chairs Soros Fund Management LLC and is reportedly worth $5 billion, has already given $10 million to the group. In a written statement issued August 8, he said, “The fate of the world depends on the United States and President Bush is leading us in the wrong direction. The Bush doctrine is both false and dangerous. The rest of the world is having an allergic reaction to it, as we have seen in Iraq. We need to change direction.” ACT head Ellen Malcolm, who also serves as president of the radical feminist political group EMILY’s List, was more explicit. ACT will conduct “a massive get-out-the-vote operation that we think will defeat George W. Bush in 2004,” she told the Washington Post August 8. Since then, more details of ACT’s plan and supporters have been released. According to the group, it will engage only in voter registration and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) campaigns. It will not run ads or give money to candidates, and as long as it does not co-ordinate its efforts with candidates or political parties, its registration and GOTV activities will be in compliance with election laws. In the June 2003 American Prospect, Soros implied that the approach taken to the war on terrorism by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and President Bush makes them “extremists.” “The ultimate truth is beyond human reach…,” said Soros. “Bush makes absolutely no allowance for the possibility that we may be wrong, and he has no tolerance for dissenting opinion. If you are not with us you are against us, he proclaims. Donald Rumsfeld berates our European allies who disagree with him on Iraq in no uncertain terms, and he has a visceral aversion to international cooperation, be it with NATO or UN peacekeepers in Afghanistan. And [Atty. Gen.] John Ashcroft accuses those who opposed the USA Patriot Act of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. These are the views of extremists, not adherents to an open society.” ACT will focus on 17 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. In addition to Malcolm, other prominent liberal activists involved with ACT, include Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union; Steve Rosenthal, former AFL-CIO political director and now head of Big Labor’s Partnership for America’s Families; Cecile Richards, president of America Votes, a new group similar to ACT and Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. The group reports that it has $30 million so far in contributions or commitments, the biggest chunk from Soros. It reported receiving $8 million from labor groups and more from wealthy individuals including Peter Lewis, founder of Progressive Insurance; Anne Bartley, former president of the Rockefeller Family Fund; Patricia Bauman of the Bauman Family Foundation; and Rob McKay, head of the McKay Family Foundation.
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