Saturday, July 7, 2012

Don't Let Democratic Activists Tell You How To Vote

Catalist has data on 230 million Americans
Chairman Smith: “The Department of Justice has a responsibility to enforce and uphold the laws of the land without the influence of partisan politics … This is why I was disappointed to learn that the Department hired an explicitly partisan Democratic data company, Catalist, to provide the data by which it is justifying its decision to block implementation of Texas’s voter identification law.

“Though Catalist is technically a private, for-profit company, it is really an agent of the Democratic Party. And Catalist’s involvement in the Department’s election law litigation against Texas creates a clear conflict of interest. There is at least the appearance that, rather than election laws that protect Texans’ right to vote in a secure and fair election, Catalist might prefer that Texas’s election laws favor Democratic Party candidates.

“Equally troubling, nothing in the record indicates that the Department conducted an open bidding process when it obtained Catalist’s data services. I am concerned that the Justice Department may have prohibited other, non-partisan organizations from even bidding for the contract to review Texas’ voter ID law. If the Justice Department intentionally chose an organization with a left-leaning bias to review Texas’ voter ID law, this would be a disturbing misuse of taxpayer dollars and undermines the credibility of the Department’s challenge to the law…

“It is unacceptable for the Department to go into court in a case involving the integrity of Texas elections on the basis of data provided by a Democratic Party campaign operation. Imagine the outrage if a Republican administration intervened to block a New York City election law on the basis of data provided by a firm run by Karl Rove. The Department’s engagement of Catalist in blocking Texas’s voter identification law is no different.

“I ask you to explain why the public should have faith in the neutrality and impartiality of the data provided by Catalist that the Department is citing to support its legal position … If you cannot vouch for Catalist’s non-partisan independence and reliability, then I request that you drop the Department’s objections to Texas’s voter identification law. The Department should never ask a federal court to adopt a voting rights theory that is based on partisan political strategy rather than neutral analysis of the facts and law.”

Chairman Smith requested the Department respond to his letter by Monday, July 9.

Washington Post Hired Left-Wing Obama Enabler as Its 'Chief Digital Officer'

By Brent Baker | July 03, 2009

Ravindran's job may be a support role to distribute the work of journalists, but he also decides which content to promote. In “Can This Geek Save the Post?” Harry Jaffe reported that Ravindran, who joined the Post's staff in February, “delivered his first 'product,' a streaming conversation for the Post Company’s online magazine, Slate, across Twitter and Facebook. The first installment was a five-part series about the use of animals in medical research. He hopes it will be one of the 'kernels' to build Post revenues.”

An excerpt from the magazine item posted Tuesday on the Washingtonian's “Capitol Comment” blog (which has a picture of Ravindran):   ...Democratic strategist and entrepreneur Harold Ickes enlisted  Ravindran to build Catalist, a national voter database for Democratic candidates and liberal organizations. From the fall of 2005 through the election of Barack Obama, Ravindran built systems for Catalist. After the election, Amazon board member — and Smithsonian board chair — Patricia Stonesifer introduced him to [Post Publisher Don] Graham.

“We hit it off really well,” says Ravindran. “He knew there was a strong need to innovate in the digital space and the Post had to make an investment to grow internally.”...

Read more:

Catalist's 2006 budget was in the range of $9-10 million, and the consultancy was granted substantial seed money by billionaire financier George Soros

An Inside Look at Obama’s Organizing for America
February 1, 2010 by
[ ACORN Watch ]
Blogger and activist Carol Greenberg approached me recently with an exclusive look at her work investigating Organizing for America. I was impressed with Carol’s investigative reporting initiative and realized that America needed to see the “Obama Machine” in action. I began working with her on unraveling the truth behind OFA.
I have invited Carol to guest blog at my sites this week for Part I. Carol’s courage in standing up for America and the information provided has allowed me to write the stunning Part II that will follow shortly.
Thank you,
Anita MonCrief

-By Carol Greenberg

Obama’s “permanent campaign” Organizing for America has managed to skirt campaign finance laws while continually providing the unprecedented “opportunity to help the president.” Countless emails fill boxes across America with the sender name President Barack Obama.
Organizing for America has kept a high profile and played a key role in the healthcare debate. Obama’s managed to turn his extraordinary campaign model into a post-election campaign/organizing website where OFA honed their method of using the internet to reach progressives to push through his increasingly unpopular agenda.

During Barack Obama’s campaign he used a similar tool and website called “Obama for America.” Utilizing the skills he learned at ACORN as a community organizer, Obama was able to acquire the “highest office in the land”. In an election night quote from November of 2008, Obama addresses a crowd who voted for “Hope” and “Change.”
“This victory alone is not the change we seek —
it is only the chance for us to make that change.”

— President Barack Obama, Election Night, 2008

And almost immediately after Mr. Obama was elected, the name of his campaign tool “Obama for America” was changed to “Organizing for America.” Here is a screen shot:

Interestingly, on Jan. 17, 2009, three days before Mr. Obama is sworn into the Presidency, he announced the switch-over from “Obama for America” to “Organizing for America.”
And here is a screen shot of Organizing for America, or OFA; in its present state. If you notice, it has Mr. Obama’s name on it:

The bottom half of the screen shot is not visible, but trust me: it says “Project of the DNC.” For those of you who wish to examine the site, the link is here.
Throughout the ensuing months between Mr. Obama’s roll-out of OFA and the present I have taken a peek at the site every once in awhile, out of curiosity to see what he was saying. Frankly I’m not sure if any other man in the Oval Office ever had a web page, but this one is asking visitors to “create an account.” Hmmmm… That’s really different. So I did. And I signed up for his e-mails. After all, shouldn’t we ALL want to be privy to the message our President has to say?
I watched the site, and received his e-mails. And many times was disconcerted, being a Conservative; about WHY he always seemed so successful at overturning any efforts, Congressional votes, etc. that Conservatives brought forward.
One day I received an e-mail alerting me to an “OFA Training Seminar.” It was to be a 4-hour session on community organizing, his way. And the seminar was not far from my home. I remember the saying “it is always good to learn the ways of one’s enemies” so I decided to attend. Undercover. As one of “them.” The opposite side of the table.
We had a ball. There was meet and greet time, we were fed pizza and all the trimmings; unfortunately no beer. There was a video. Papers were passed out, “cheat sheets” of how to approach prospective people to educate them about Mr. Obama’s policies and agenda. And also ways to entice them to vote for progressive candidates. We broke up into small groups. We made friends. We rehearsed with one another the spiel we would give in the “community organizing arena.” By the end of the evening we were one big happy family. I went home that evening without committing to anything. I figured I would get a follow-up phone call, tell them I wasn’t interested, and that would be the end of it. But all the while I kept thinking there just has to be more to this than what I experienced that evening. Mr. Obama was winning “big time” at everything he undertook.
Unexpectedly about a week later I received another “opportunity.” An e-mail from OFA inviting me to be part of one of their on-line “webinars” which would teach canvassers how to enter information into OFA website databases. I was intrigued, but vacillated. After all, this would be going deeper into the “belly of the beast.” But I ultimately decided I would probably never get another opportunity such as this, so being the brave woman that I am I RSVPed in the affirmative. This was based out of the home, a conference call with a trainer on-line, using one’s own computer only as an observation tool. There was no disclaimer ahead of time, I was invited; so I decided while the trainer was moving through the OFA/Votebuilder system I would get some screen shots. Which I did. But don’t get any ideas out there anyone. This is a highly secure and password-protected website. And because this was a demonstration, I do not have any access to the website.
The conference call training session was meant to give users an overview of the system, and I was surprised at its design and detail. For example, below is a database of persons contacted and the result of what is called “Member of Congress” commits. In other words, who has agreed or not agreed to contact their Congressperson.
When the “webinar” was over, and I had the time to take a good look at the screen shots, this is when I was stunned. I realized finally this is why the Conservative movement has been taking a hit all these months. I have to give 5 stars to their system. It is highly organized and every call, every contact, every encounter is logged. Every precinct in the country is in the website which allows for detailed study and analysis of canvassing and vote results.
I let it go for a few days. Undecided about the importance of what, if anything I had discovered. Probably just good for a teaching lesson to the Conservatives about how we need to become more organized, just like the premier “Community Organizer in Chief.”
I have done a couple of diaries for RedState. A few days later I encountered a diary by Moe Lane, and it was about OFA. Only his opinion was the complete opposite of mine. That post Correcting the Record on Organizing for America is linked here. It’s a short post, but all the while I was reading it, the more agitated I became. Moe Lane is a great and respected writer, but after all he had not experienced and seen first hand what I had.
I decided to do a “rebuttal” post. Sorry Moe, but I have to rebut your OFA assessment. That post can be found here. And a couple of weeks later, Moe Lane did another post on OFA. Revisiting Sifry and the OFA withering. This is when I decided that some action needed to be taken to inform others about the formidable group that OFA has become.
First I am going to post a few screen shots from the OFA/Votebuilder/DNC website. Any and all data that may be able to identify someone’s identity has been removed.
Here is a screen shot of canvassing results. Notice how all data is carefully logged.

Another shot, this one of one of their volunteers and his/her territory to be canvassed:

Mr. Obama also has a database of people who are “underinsured” that he can contact and trot out at a moment’s notice when he needs a sob story for his Healthcare Reform:

Next we have a screen shot of the dreaded “rapid response teams.” These are the people Obama’s OFA rolls out during a “crisis” to be door-knockers, set up phone banks; etc. These are the same “rapid response teams OFA rolled out for the Scott Brown Massachusetts senate race “crisis” and the Blanche Lincoln Arkansas “crisis”:

Have you ever wondered how Obama was able to “toss” Lincoln in October, to get her to “cave” on the Healthcare vote? Here is my final screen shot:

Notice that the “team” had 114% more “vote commits” than hoped for, for a total of over 7,000 phone calls, doors knocked on, and visits to Lincoln’s office. This my friends, is why Conservatives are losing in the organizing arena.
If you’ll notice at the top of each screen shot, it says “VoteBuilder” somewhere, so I decided to see what I could find out about “VoteBuilder.” And it wasn’t very difficult.
My research took me to February of 2007. Howard Dean, then Chairman of the DNC, announces the creation of a state-of-the-art voter-file interface. This will be called “Votebuilder.” I am including a couple of pertinent excerpts from the announcement below. The link to the full announcement is found here.

Today, the Democratic National Committee announced that it has signed a deal with Voter Activation Network (VAN) to create a nationwide voter file interface for the DNC’s national voter file. The new voter file, which has been renamed “VoteBuilder”, builds on both the significant enhancements and upgrades Chairman Dean made during the 2006 election cycle and the critical investment in the DNC’s voter file made by former Chairman Terry McAuliffe. The new, web-based tool will ensure that from the National Party to the state parties, Democratic candidates have access to the state-of-the-art tools needed to help win elections. VoteBuilder also represents the next step in Chairman Dean’s efforts to build and strengthen the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. [sic]

And this quote from Howard Dean specifically:
VoteBuilder will enable users to more easily and effectively sync data automatically, and facilitate the swapping of data between state parties and the DNC, thereby providing state parties and candidates with the most up-to-date and accurate voter data available. As an example, the DNC will be able to create an updated nationwide list of voter contacts on a daily basis.

My state, Ohio, was more than just a battleground state during Election 2008 because of Secretary of State Brunner and the ACORN debacle, so I decided to do some research on those “little nuts.”
Anita MonCrief’s blog gave me a wealth of information.
ACORN’s 501(c)(3) non-profit arm Project Vote needed an effective way of classifying and organizing all their “VR” or “voter registration” cards into a local database. At the time, all their cards were being sent to a central national database entry company to be compiled. According to insiders in ACORN Political Operations, ACORN had learned from the failures of the Clinton adminstrations and decided that a successful “Progressive” agenda required collaboration. ACORN relied heavily on Project Vote, whom often describe themselves as:
“the largest non-partisan voter participation organization in the United States and a leading provider of technical assistance and direct services to the larger civic participation community.
Project Vote proposed the creation of a “List Acquisition and Enhancement Project” which would allow them to build a strategic plan to build and maintain statewide voter files in all states, particularly in states crucial to electing progressive candidates, Ohio being one.
The lists would include voter data, demographics, or “metrics,” and consumer data among other things.
Interestingly, Project Vote’s ambitions described above are similar to Howard Dean’s “pride and joy” VoteBuilder. VoteBuilder was designed by the Voter Activation Network who unsurprisingly list the “usual suspects” as clients.
Part II will reveal reveal the ACORN connection through a variety of “partner” and affiliate organizations created to deceive America about who is really pushing the Obama Agenda.

An Inside Look at Organizing for America Part II: ACORN for America

February 2, 2010 by
[ ACORN Watch ]   

Part II of our inside look at Organizing for America was inspired by the investigative work done by Carol Greenberg Thank you Carol for getting involved and driving this story.
Anita MonCrief
From a tiny acorn, a mighty oak can grow. With ACORN’s help, Barack Obama “grew” from an ACORN community organizer and instructor, to an ACORN lawyer and ACORN benefactor as a board member of donor organizations, to an ACORN-backed Illinois state senator, to ACORN’s favorite United States Senator, to ACORN’s candidate for President of the United States in 2008. This article shows how ACORN and its allies helped organize America to make Obama President in this, the computer age.
Barack Obama’s meteoric rise from rookie Senator to President had man marveling at the efficiency and breadth of his campaign. Obama’s ability to fund raise had seasoned experts playing catch up while his voter registration money machine operated in the background. In 2008, the New York Times explored a seemingly innocent tactic the Democrats were utilizing to elect Obama. The article stated several times that the Republicans had honed this technique and Democrats were just “borrowing the play.”
“For years, Republicans had the landscape to themselves. More recently, however, Democrats, along with such allies as trade unions and progressive groups, have poured millions of dollars into building two formidable databanks. One is managed by the Democratic National Committee and can be used by candidates up and down the ballot. The other is Catalist, a for-profit company headed by Harold M. Ickes, a Democratic political operative, that specializes in providing data for scores of liberal groups supporting the Democratic ticket as well as for the Obama campaign itself.”
Progressive organizations, trade unions and a for profit group run by someone who had been implicated in the radical Teamstergate saga of the 1990′s? The crack reporting of The Times glossed over this toxic mix, and the Obama machine kept running.
Harold Ickes‘ company, Catalist, has been credited with creating this machine:
“Catalist collects and stores millions of pieces of information from public records and commercial sources. In addition to voting rolls and tax information, it also has data about voters’ magazine subscriptions and their cars. Campaigns also contribute e-mails, cell-phone numbers and even times when people are likely to be home.
Ickes, 69, said that by using Catalist the Obama campaign is able to generate data as detailed as lists of swing voters who are home in the afternoon in a six-block neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. The list can even suggest which voters would be receptive to a pitch based on Obama’s ‘change’ theme, and which may be more interested in his health-care or energy policies.”
The origin of Catalist is intriguing and appears firmly rooted in the same community organizing spirit that has spread throughout the country.
“Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.” -Barack Obama
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or ACORN spent a number of years perfecting an organizing model that resembled that of Catalist and the Obama Campaign. ACORN’s close “affiliate” Project Vote detailed their efforts in a 2007 report:
“The Pilot Technology Project carried out during the summer and fall of 2006 was a first attempt to integrate the potential of high quality enhanced data developed for voter participation programs with on-going grassroots community organizing programs. Building upon the work of Catalist (formerly Data Warehouse LLC), Project Vote deployed an updated version of our online voter management system (VBASE) to enable local community organizations to access a robust voter file with enhanced phone numbers, geographic and demographic information for use in voter mobilization, membership development and organizational capacity building.”
Apparently, ACORN and Project Vote were “smack dab” in the middle of another one of Obama’s voter registration drives. According to ACORN reports, ACORN was Catalist’s first client. Let me be clear, the ACORN VBASE, is the archetype of the Obama campaign. ACORN’s technology combined with union money elected a president.
To understand the importance of Catalist to the Obama Campaign and later Organizing for America I have included the educational screen shot below.
The writer of the article above sums up the relationship this way:
“Think of MyBo / Party Builder / VAN Votebuilders as being the tool sets and interface for volunteers, staff and field organizers, and Catalist as being the organizer and repository for the data as it flowed in and out of various OFA systems.”
A 2005 Year End ACORN Political Operations PowerPoint further illustrates ACORN’s involvement in the creation of the system that powers the President.
Matthew Vadum’s profile on the OFA offers some background on the major players but the hows and whys have largely gone unnoticed. In addition to a payment made from Obama for America directly to an ACORN affiliate, Project Vote managed to secure the Obama 2nd 2007 donor list. After all, this cross sharing among campaigns, non-profits and unions appears to have been the goal of the ACORN VBASE. A 2007 report the the Beldon Fund regarding a $75,000 grant lays the groundwork.
“The reason that VBASE, a customized database system has such value in the work of Project Vote’s field partners, such as ACORN, is because the model of groups like ACORN integrates year-round community organizing with heavy bursts of civic engagement work.”
ACORN insiders describe the Obama presidency as a “once in a generation opportunity” and ACORN was prepared to make it happen. Research uncovered details the concerted effort of a myriad of non-profit, 527′s LINK and union organizations skirting campaign finance and IRS codes. While ACORN is not directly involved with the Voter Activation Network, ACORN affiliates/partners are. America Votes, SEIU, State Voices and even the DNC’s owned VoteBuilder share information through this alliance.
In 2007, Project Vote was ready to launch their “beta” phase of the VBASE project and targeted a state that had been made friendly by the election of ACORN ally Ohioan Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner:
“The initial beta version of our 2006-07 database was piloted in Ohio by one of our local community partners. This pre-launch was a bug-testing period for the new system, addressing issues of file access, remote support, and appropriate server load.”
Brunner campaign consultant, Karyn Gillette was set to join Project Vote after successful work on the Brunner, Sherrod Brown and ACORN connected Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage campaigns. Meanwhile, Obama was running a massive campaign in Ohio and ACORN’s partnership with Catalist allowed a for profit business to market their state of the art organizing technology:

“The success of this program is such that Project Vote will be incorporating it into its 2007-08 Voter Participation Program. While we are still wrestling with the details, we are committed to rolling out this sophisticated and robust system to support the civic engagement efforts of our local partners as they pursue voter registration and voter education programs and as they integrate those efforts into their on-going community organizing programs”
The perfect marriage of ACORN and Catalist was made possible by the deep pockets of the unions:
“Michael Podhorzer, Deputy Political Director of the AFL-CIO, has said: ‘Catalist is an essential part of the foundation necessary for building progressive political power in our country. The labor movement relies on the state of the art political technology services provided by Catalist and we are proud to be an early subscriber.’
Discover the Networks goes on to explain the motivation behind Catalist:
“Reasoning from the premise that the United States is a nation rife with racism and injustice, Catalist notes its commitment “to using [its] talents and technology to nurture a vibrant, growing, progressive community, and to working with that community towards a more just, equitable and tolerant America.”
Obama has repeatedly denied any real ties to ACORN. If Obama is lying about organizing, could this mean that there is another purpose over at Organizing for America. Over the summer the nation witnessed the President call out this ready brigade to pass health care and stifle dissent. It’s time for the mainstream media to focus on what ACORN is really doing.
The “history making” Obama machine was directly engineered by ACORN’s voter database experiments. ACORN’s sister organization, Project Vote, received tax exempt money to fund a venture with the for-profit Catalist. Catalist, the Voter Activation Network, SEIU and America Votes provided the needed cover that allowed ACORN to operate in the background.
Without regard for tax codes or campaign laws; candidates and groups like America Votes, SEIU, Project Vote and other “progressive organizations” at times share staff, resources and donors. ACORN boasts over 440,000 member families and Obama benefited from the free flowing data between the campaign and ACORN provided by Catalist. America is now facing a progressive agenda backed by a ready army of paid organizers trained in ACORN tactics, and the name Organizing for America seems to be missing a question mark.

  • Patricia Bauman - President and Co-Director of the Bauman Foundation
  • Albert Dwoskin - President and CEO of A.J. Dwoskin & Associates
  • Harold Ickes - President, Catalist
  • Tom Novick - Executive Vice President, M+R
  • Michael Podhorzer - Deputy Political Director, AFL-CIO
  • Laura Quinn - CEO, Catalist
  • Vijay Ravindran - CTO, Catalist
  • Sheldon Seevak - Partner, Goldman Sachs (ret.)
  • Juan Marcos Vilar - Political Director, Service Employees International Union
  • Michael Warren - Chief Operating Officer & Managing Director, Stonebridge International

  • Ms. Laura Quinn
    Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Managers
    President and Member of the Board of Managers
    Chief Financial Officer
    Chief Operating Officer
    Chief Client Officer
    Laura Quinn served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Vice President Gore, as Director of the Democratic Technology and Communications Committee for the Democratic Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, and in a variety of senior Senate and campaign positions. By creating Catalist, a national database of all voting-age individuals in the United States, Quinn, CEO, has transformed the way progressive organizations communicate and campaign. Quinn founded Catalist in 2005 with Albert Dwoskin and Harold Ickes. Under her leadership, Catalist has grown to be the premier provider of voter file data, with a database of more than 200 million voting age Americans, online tools, and in-house expertise offered to progressive causes and candidates. Quinn is also a founding partner of QRS Newmedia, Inc., which specializes in communication technology and integration services. QRS's technology renovation for the Democratic National Committee in 2003-04 helped them increase their donor base more than five-fold and out-fundraise the Republican National Committee for the first time in history.

    Brook Colangelo - Chief Information Officer (CIO), Office of Administration
    Executive Office of the President (EOP)

    Brook Colangelo is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President (EOP). Mr. Colangelo manages the unclassified enterprise technology that supports the EOP, including the White House and President of the United States.
    Upon his appointment, he created a strategic plan to stabilize, mobilize and optimize the EOP’s IT infrastructure. He moved EOP employees off of desktop computers and onto secure mobile work stations. His foresight on this critical workforce need was put to the test when the Washington Metropolitan Area was immobilized for a week due to the 2010 blizzard. While the federal government was closed, the new mobile work stations and other tools allowed 60 percent of EOP employees to get online and complete mission critical functions, ensuring that White House operations continued.
    Mr. Colangelo previously worked as the CIO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, where he successfully managed an interactive Convention and led a green technology initiative to reduce the Committee’s carbon footprint.  Mr. Colangelo served as the Director of Technology for QRS Newmedia Inc, a dynamic communications and consulting firm in Washington, DC. Mr. Colangelo has experience in the IT management of a wide range of projects, including technology and telecommunication construction, application and web development, and renovation of technology infrastructure.

    Democrates are tracking everything you do.  See for yourself.

    Democrates are tracking everything you do.   See for yourself.  Now it is more important than ever to get involved.  Listen to conservative talk radio, then watch MSNBC and you will be able to make you own decisions with who provides you with proof sources.


    A multi-disciplinary, collaborative project of the California Institute of Technology – Pasadena, California 91125 and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

    TITLE The Quality of Voter Registration Records:  A State-by-State Analysis
    Stephen Ansolabehere, University Harvard University
    Eitan Hersh, University Harvard University
    VTP Report July 14, 2010
    The Quality of Voter Registration Records:
    A State-by-State Analysis 1

    The authors thank Bob Blaemire, Laura Quinn, Taylor Terry, of Catalist for their helpful guidance and cooperation.
    Clinton Aide’s Databank Venture Breaks Ground in Politicking
    Published: April 12, 2008
    When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton needed help rounding up superdelegates, she turned to Harold M. Ickes, the ultimate Democratic fixer, who is now working round-the-clock for her, drawing on his vast energy and decades of political connections.
    But, at the same time, Mr. Ickes is also wearing another hat. He is president of Catalist, a for-profit databank that has sold its voter files to the Obama and the Clinton presidential campaigns for their get-out-the-vote efforts. With his equity stake in the firm, Mr. Ickes stands to benefit financially no matter which candidate becomes the Democratic nominee.
    In creating Catalist, Mr. Ickes, who was deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House, has formed a rare entity on the political scene, a for-profit limited-liability corporation that allows wealthy Democratic donors to help progressive organizations and candidates by investing in the company. And if Catalist, which has data on 230 million Americans, is successful as a business, these donors-turned-investors stand to reap financial returns from using their money to help elect Democrats.
    But some campaign finance watchdogs say they wonder whether Catalist was established not so much to make money but to find a creative way to allow big-money liberal donors to influence the election without disclosing the degree of their involvement or being subjected to other rules that would govern spending by an explicitly political organization.
    Catalist has raised over $11 million in venture capital, including more than $1 million from the billionaire financier George Soros, according to his aides. It also counts on such large unions as the Service Employees International Union and the A.F.L.-C.I.O., to buy its products and create revenues. And it plans to be the go-to source for voter data for a broad swath of groups often aligned with Democrats — like the Sierra Club, Emily’s List and Clean Water Action — as they embark on ambitious get-out-the vote efforts this fall.
    These liberal clients will buy lists of likely voters based on information that Catalist has gleaned from voter registration files and commercial data providers. For instance, Catalist computers will take voter registration information along with data from appliance warranties, hunting and fishing licenses, charitable memberships and other data points to draw models of potentially sympathetic voters that these clients can approach.
    Catalist grew out of the embers of two groups that Mr. Ickes headed in the 2004 election, Americans Coming Together and the Media Fund, which, in part, conducted strong get-out-the-vote efforts. But when the Democrats failed to take the White House in 2004, wealthy donors believed that one reason they had failed was that Democrats lacked the sophisticated voter databanks of the Republican Party, its celebrated “voter vault” that can pinpoint likely supporters.
    Out of that analysis came a decision to set up a Democratic voter databank outside the formal party apparatus and structured as a business, with investors and customers drawn from the same pool of those who had worked closely together in 2004.
    “We wanted to come at this differently,” said Laura Quinn, chief executive of Catalist. “We needed people with a business background and a political background. Putting together a business model was critical to our effort, but we also needed someone who understood the political space, and that was Harold.”
    Mr. Ickes, through a spokeswoman, declined to be interviewed for this article, and the company declined to discuss any details relating to his financial stake or how much he stands to make from it.
    The company itself operates in a Washington office building, where rooms of young computer engineers hunch over laptops and personal computers, giving it the air of a Silicon Valley start-up.
    Some campaign finance watchdogs, however, say one concern about Catalist is that its precursors — America Coming Together and Media Fund — were found by the Federal Election Commission to have illegally spent $150 million on federal campaign activities without registering as political committees. The two groups were fined a combined $1.35 million.
    The political world is filled with polling firms, consultants and others that operate for profit. But Catalist’s business structure — and the political motives of its backers — have raised questions about whether the company is using its status as a for-profit company to shield its investors from disclosure and spending rules that would apply to more traditional political organizations.
    Catalist’s backers, along with Mr. Ickes, are some of the same people involved in America Coming Together and the Media Fund, which have since disbanded. As a private company, Catalist does not have to disclose its investors or the amounts they put up, which have run well into the six-figures.
    The company has said it will not turn a profit until 2010, making it difficult to determine whether its backers are business investors or political donors, as well as whether or not it is helping to subsidize the liberal groups that are its clients.
    “It is something to be concerned about,” said Steve Weissman, associate policy director at the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonprofit in Washington. “Wealthy people and unions are having a greater influence on the political process than the average small donor or the person who doesn’t donate. It skews the political process toward those who have money.”
    Catalist is actually just one piece in a larger, and interlocking, network of independent liberal organizations that are acting almost as a shadow Democratic National Committee, now that the party itself can no longer accept unlimited large soft money donations. While these independent groups cannot communicate with the Democratic Party on strategy, they provide yet another way of getting the party’s message out, even if not in the words of the party.
    Its clients include groups like MoveOn.Org, the N.A.A.C.P., the Sierra Club, Emily’s List, Naral Pro-Choice America and the National Education Association, along with the service employees union and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. All those groups were involved with Americans Coming Together in 2004 and are planning even bigger get-out-the-vote campaigns this year. Catalist does not do business with Republican-aligned groups.
    Helping these groups coordinate their efforts — and to prevent them from bumping into one another — is a group called America Votes, which maintains close ties with Catalist. Until recently, America Votes, which has raised $18 million, shared office space with Catalist. Not only is it a Catalist client, but its mission is to help Catalist clients use the data they have bought to develop on-the-ground strategies in 19 crucial states.
    And, standing in the background, but still linked to this effort, is a new group called Fund for America, which is solely a money-raising vehicle, somewhat like a foundation. Fund for America got off the ground late last year with donations of $2.5 million each from Mr. Soros and the service employees union. Since then, Fund for America has given America Votes $1 million for its work in helping Catalist clients. Both groups are tax-exempt organizations that can take nearly unlimited contributions and have limited oversight.
    “These groups are trying to inject the same kind of huge amounts of money into the 2008 election that were found to be illegal in 2004, but with the new scheme,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, one of several nonprofit groups that filed the complaint at the election commission regarding Americans Coming Together and the Media Fund. “There are a series of important legal issues involved in these activities that we will be carefully monitoring.”
    In setting up Catalist, Mr. Ickes is also setting up a rival databank to one that the Democratic National Committee has spent millions developing to help candidates and party committees in 2008. While there have been reports that Mr. Ickes, who had been critical of the management of the national committee under Howard Dean, began Catalist as a vote of no confidence in the committee’s effort, Ms. Quinn, the Catalist chief executive, insists that is not the case.
    “We never felt that the two databases were incompatible,” Ms. Quinn said. “There was a lack of capacity, and the two databases will fill that need.”
    Catalist has issued a prospectus to investors that it has not made public and has said investors would get a fixed rate of return.
    One crucial question, several legal experts say, is whether Catalist is selling its data at fair market value or at a discount, another factor in determining whether it could be deemed a political committee and subject to federal campaign regulations. Even though Catalist’s own marketing literature calls it a “low cost” data source, Ms. Quinn said the company charged market rates.
    Equally sticky is that there are conflicts within Catalist’s own client lists. The Clinton campaign, for instance, has paid Catalist $125,000 for its data, while the Obama campaign has paid $50,000, even though Mr. Ickes works for Mrs. Clinton and has been raising concerns about Mr. Obama’s electability as he courts superdelegates on her behalf.

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