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MoveOn is an American non-profit, progressive or liberal public policy advocacy group and political action committee, which has raised millions of dollars for candidates it identifies as "progressives" in the United States. It was formed in 1998 in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Anna Galland is the executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action and Ilya Sheyman is the executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action. The president of MoveOn's board is former executive director, Justin Ruben. Past president Eli Pariser and co-founder Joan Blades are also on the board. Past board members include co-founder Wes Boyd and former Chief Operating Officer Carrie Olson.
MoveOn comprises two legal entities, each organized under a different section of U.S. tax and election laws. MoveOn.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, and was formerly known as MoveOn.org. MoveOn Civic Action focuses on education and advocacy on national issues. MoveOn.org Political Action is a federal political action committee, and was formerly known as MoveOn PAC. It contributes to the campaigns of many candidates across the country. MoveOn calls the legal structure of MoveOn Civic Action that of "a California nonprofit public benefit corporation" and MoveOn.org Political Action that of "a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation," and refers to both corporations collectively as "MoveOn".
MoveOn started in 1998 as an e-mail group, MoveOn.org, created by software entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the married cofounders of Berkeley Systems. They started by passing around a petition asking Congress to "censure President Clinton and move on", as opposed to impeaching him. The petition, passed around by word of mouth, gathered half a million signatures but did not dissuade Congress from impeaching the President. The couple went on to start similar campaigns calling for arms inspections rather than an invasion of Iraq, reinstatement of lower limits on arsenic and mercury pollution, and campaign finance reform.
Since 1998, MoveOn has raised millions of dollars for many Democratic candidates. In November 2007, a drive spearheaded by MoveOn caused Facebook to change its controversial new "Beacon" program, which notified Facebook users about purchases by people on their friends list. As of 2009, MoveOn had 20 full-time and 20 part-time staffers. As of 2012, MoveOn claims a membership of over 7 million people.
Since the 2000 election cycle, the MoveOn PAC has endorsed and supported the campaigns of candidates, including the 2008 candidacy of then-Senator Barack Obama, presidential candidate, nominee of the Democratic Party.
In 2007, Moveon was a co-founder of Avaaz, a similar organization with an international focus.
The MoveOn.org web site also uses multi-media, including videos, audio downloads, and images. In addition to communicating via the Internet, MoveOn advertises using traditional print and broadcast media, as well as billboards, bus signs, and bumper stickers, digital versions of which are downloadable from its web site. It also contains an area called the "Action Forum", which functions much like a traditional electronic discussion group. The Action Forum acts as a grassroots organization allowing members to propose priorities and strategies.
Through this grassroots methodology, MoveOn collaborates with groups like Meetup.com in organizing street demonstrations, bake sales, house parties, and other opportunities for people to meet personally and act collectively in their own communities.
Changes in federal election laws have also impacted groups like MoveOn. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform legislation, which went into effect in 2002, allowed political parties to raise larger amounts of "hard money" contributions, but were forbidden from raising "soft money". MoveOn, like many other political organizations which sought to influence the 2004 election, was able to circumvent this legislation using a 527 group, which became inactive in 2005 and closed in 2008.
In preparation for the 2006 midterm elections, MoveOn created a new system for soliciting potential voters named Call for Change. As part of the Call for Change effort, registered voters in key voting districts were contacted by MoveOn members, who placed over 7 million phone calls as part of the effort.
According to an article in the Washington Post dated March 10, 2004:
"The Democratic 527 organizations have drawn support from some wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush. They include financier George Soros who gave $1.46 million to MoveOn.org Voter Fund (in the form of matching funds to recruit additional small donors); Peter B. Lewis, chief executive of the Progressive Corp., who gave $500,000 to MoveOn.org Voter Fund; and Linda Pritzker, of the Hyatt hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., who gave $4 million to the joint fundraising committee."
MoveOn.org ceased receiving any donations to its 527 after the 2004 election, and closed the 527 permanently in 2008. MoveOn's primary source of funding is its members. MoveOn.org raised nearly 60 million dollars in 2004 from its members, with an average donation of $50.
MoveOn was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, among others, when a member-submitted ad which drew parallels between President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler was submitted to their online ad contest "Bush in 30 Seconds". The ad was part of an online MoveOn-sponsored contest, "Bush in 30 Seconds", during the 2004 presidential election, in which members were invited to create and submit political ads challenging President Bush and his administration. The advertisement was quickly pulled off the website.
Fox News criticized the organization after it successfully encouraged the 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates not to attend two debates sponsored by the network. Fox News advisor David Rhodes and the network's commentators Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly have also made accusations that MoveOn.org "owns" the Democratic Party and George Soros owns MoveOn.org.
MoveOn was criticized by 31 Republican senators and one independent senator for running a print ad in The New York Times that questioned the personal integrity of General David Petraeus, with headlines such as "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and "Cooking the Books for the White House". On September 20, 2007, the Senate passed an amendment by Republican John Cornyn III of Texas designed to "strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus". All forty-nine Republican Senators, as well as twenty-two Democratic Senators, voted in support. The House passed a similar resolution by a 341-79 vote on September 26, 2007.
On September 20, 2007, The Washington Post stated: "Democrats blamed the group Moveon.org for giving moderate Republicans a ready excuse for staying with Bush and for giving Bush and his supporters a way to divert attention away from the war."
The New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt later stated in an op-ed that MoveOn was mistakenly charged US$77,000 less for the ad than it should have been under Times policies, and MoveOn announced that it would pay The New York Times the difference in price.
MoveOn.org ran more ads using a 'betrayal' theme, with TV spots targeting former President Bush and former Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani specifically. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani ran his own full-page ad in The New York Times on September 14, 2007. Giuliani asked for and received a similar reduced fee as Moveon.org, paying US$65,000.
Google and MoveOn have been accused of selective adherence to trademark law for removing ads from Google Adwords for Maine Senator Susan Collins, citing infringement of MoveOn trademarks. Wired stated on October 15, 2007 that the "left-leaning political advocacy group, MoveOn.org, is backing down" and will allow Google to show the ads. Moveon.org communications director Jennifer Lindenauer said: "We don't want to support a policy that denies people freedom of expression."
On June 17, 2008, MoveOn emailed its members stating that it had produced "the most effective TV ad we've ever created." The ad depicts a mother telling Republican and former presidential nominee John McCain that she will not let him use her infant son, Alex, as a soldier in the war in Iraq. Subsequent to the ad's release, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, "praised" MoveOn for "10 years of making even people who agree with you cringe." New York Times op/ed contributor Bill Kristol criticized the ad in an essay, including pointing to the fact that the "United States has an all-volunteer Army. Alex won’t be drafted, and his mommy can’t enlist him. He can decide when he’s an adult whether he wants to serve."