First, You Have to Win – A Look at Adam Green’s PCCC

Recently, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), a political action committee (PAC), and in particular, its leader, Adam Green ,have been attracting attention from various bloggers.  According to their home page, their mission is:

works to elect bold progressive candidates to federal office and to help those candidates and their campaigns save money, work smarter, and win more often.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  On their “sign up” sheet,  there’s a lot of glowing recommendation, calling it “stunningly successful” (Sirota), and “the top progressive group in the country” (Ed Shultz).   Which would lead you to think this is an outstandingly successful organization. There’s just a little problem when you look at their FEC filings for the 2010 election, and do some work over on Wikipedia regarding their actual results.

House
Total to Democrats: $21,960
Recipient  ↓ Total  ↓ Results
Ball, Krystal (D-VA) $1,945 Lost, 63.90% to 34.76%,
Geoghegan, Thomas Howard (D-IL) $1,275 Lost in Primary
Grayson, Alan (D-FL) $1,732 Lost 56% to 38%
Hedrick, Bill (D-CA) $4,768 Lost 55.7% to 44.3%
Kilroy, Mary Jo (D-OH) $1,235 Lost
Krom, Beth (D-CA) $837 Lost
Kuster, Ann Mclane (D-NH) $6,041 Lost 48% to 47%
Perriello, Tom (D-VA) $954 Lost
Polis, Jared (D-CO) $20 Re-elected
Potosnak, Edward III (D-NJ) $1,757 Lost 59.4% to 40.6%
Segal, David (D-RI) $1,198 Lost in primary
Shea-Porter, Carol (D-NH) $198 Lost 53.9% to 43.4%
Senate
Total to Democrats: $19,642
Recipient  ↓ Total  ↓ Results
Conway, Jack (D-KY) $2,591 Lost, 55.7% to 44.3%
Halter, Bill (D-AR) $8,155 Lost primary, 52% to 48%
Hodes, Paul W (D-NH) $700 Lost 60.1% to 36.7%
Marshall, Elaine (D-NC) $3,196 Lost, 54.8% to 43%
Sestak, Joseph A Jr (D-PA) $5,000 Lost, 51% to 49%

For PAC which claims its mission is to “win more often,” it’s clear that in this past election, they were miserable failures.  The candidate they gave a token amount to was the only one who won, and he was in a solidly Democratic district.  But looking just at direct campaign contributions isn’t always a good picture.   Maybe we should dig further through the  FEC documents.  Well, what do you know, it turns out they did do some work pushing other candidates.  There’s phonebanking charges, ads for various issues and candidates.  The problem?  it looks like the ads or “efforts on behalf of” were all losing efforts.

It’s not just the questions about their fundraising methods or their tactics.  It’s not even their expenditures.  Any and all of which raise eyebrows.   Those could be waved aside if the PCCC was actually effective.  From the looks of what they’ve done so far, the quickest way to determine whether a candidate is going to lose is to see if the PCCC backs them.  One of the oldest rules in politics is “First, you have to win.” It doesn’t matter what your ideas are,  or what you’re planning on accomplishing, if you can’t get into office in the first place. If you’re pushing an agenda, and want to elect representatives who will support that agenda, you need to be able to get them elected. That’s “old school” politics, used by every interest group going back to the beginning of this nation. It’s also effective politics.  Which is exactly where the PCCC falls down.

So Adam wants the PCCC to push a progressive agenda?  Elect progressive candidates?  First, they have to win.  They haven’t.  In fact, they’ve done everything but win.  Sirota and Schultz may call that sort of thing “effective,” but I don’t.   I call it a waste of money.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “First, You Have to Win – A Look at Adam Green’s PCCC

  1. Sophie Amrain

    How can they be effective if they give most of the money to themselves? Didn’t Green give himself 80 000.-, i.e. double than what all candidates taken together got?

    • Pretty much, yes, he did. I don’t necessarily have a real problem with his salary, per se. I do with his attempts at positioning himself as a “leader” in the progressive movement, and touting how “important” the PAC is. As I said, I could even wave that aside if they were … effective. Reality – as in “able to win” – is that that they’re not leaders and they’re not all that important.

  2. TrumpDog

    What a waste of money.
    Then they run ads against Obama or Democrats. Makes you wonder what their purpose really is because going by their actions and it’s results, it doesn’t seem like they know either.

    I’m just glad I no longer contribute to this movement.

  3. majii

    It may be that what Sirota and Schultz are calling “important/effective” about PCCC has more to do with the amount of traffic the blog receives in response to the emotion-driven claims PCCC makes in the emails it sends to its subscribers than it does with the organization’s success at electing progressives to Congress. As you have documented in this post, Norbrook, PCCC’s record in fulfilling its goal of working “to elect bold progressive candidates to federal office” is dismal. In no way can the PAC’s efforts in this area be correctly described as being “effective” and/or “important.”

    • They’re both driven by much the same mentality that drives Adam Green. Some of it philosophical, some a demand for “power,” and oh yes … a paycheck at the end of it I should also point out, having been a “supporter” or “member,” 🙄 that the figures they tout for the number of supporters is greatly inflated. Basically, it means that if you ever signed up on that “sign up page,” or signed one of their petitions, you “counted.” Actual number of “Hey, I like what you’re doing so here’s some money” supporters looks to be an order lower.

  4. Excellent reporting, Norbrook. This had me laughing:

    From the looks of what they’ve done so far, the quickest way to determine whether a candidate is going to lose is to see if the PCCC backs them.

    Certainly the 2010 mid-term was a tough election for Democrats but that is a pretty poor track record. Having Sirota and Schultz calling a group “effective”, by the way, would mean more if Sirota or Schultz had any credibility among those who are actually involved in getting people elected instead of just ranting or blathering about it.

    • What’s a bigger “tell” about their being “effective” is that their candidates lost in primaries as well. At least, the ones where they decided to get involved in the primary. If you’re trying to elect “bold progressives,” 🙄 you generally need to get on the ballot as the party’s candidate first.

  5. Thanks for this great heads-up, Norbrook. I recieve a lot of appeals from this organization, but so far (fortunately) I have chosen to donate elsewhere.

    Effectiveness is an essential measure of whether to donate to a PAC. There should be at least some wins in their record. It’s the main reason I tend to stay with established organizations with long track records.

    This one is definitely getting marked “spam” from here on out.

    • You’re welcome. Besides being more interested in attacking the Democratic President than anything else, my overall opinion of PCCC is that it’s very much a “frustrati” type of organization. It’s long on talk with a heaping dose of hyperbole, and short on accomplishment.

  6. Oh, the irony of this article on Alternet. http://www.alternet.org/vision/149790/teaching_democrats_%27how_to_fight%27%3A_pccc%27s_adam_green_%26_stephanie_taylor/
    I found that link to the FEC docs last night too, great minds think alike. I’ve found some interesting things so far. Still looking though.

    • Yup. Nice fluff job over there, pity reality isn’t the strong point. The way you “shake up the Democratic Establishment” is by winning. Which they haven’t.

    • Observerinvancouver

      Yuck. That is sickeningly sweet. Had to stop after half a page. If these are the guys Rahm Emanuel was directing his infamous comment to, I think he was amply justified. (Of course, I was never particularly agitated by that fuss in the first place.)

      • I love the bit about “it’s an online community approaching 700,000 members.” That’s why I used that particular number in my example. No it is not “700,000” members. It’s the number of e-mail addresses they’ve harvested through either their website, petition signatures, or purchase of campaign mailing lists. Most of the people they count would be terribly surprised to find out that they’re members of PCCC. It’s an impressive sounding figure that on close examination turns out to be complete bullshit.

  7. kittypat

    Okay I had to laugh when I saw that the only winner on the list was Polis and he was a
    shoo in to begin with, winning his race 57-38 against his challenger. The NYT predicted before the election that the odds were 99.7% in favor of Polis winning, why did they give him $20, so they could improve their track record? Finally I wish someone would explain to me HOW Bill Halter was more progressive than Blanche Lincoln the reading I’ve done indicates that there was very little difference between the two. Thanks Norbrook you’re on point as usual.

    • That was my reaction when I saw the (Oh, be still my heart!) $20 they gave to him. The overall impression was “Why did you bother?” Seriously, if you’re a $2 million plus PAC, a $20 donation isn’t that meaningful.

      My explanation for the various “progressives” collective swoon over Halter was that a) He wasn’t Blanche Lincoln; b) He was willing to say the words they wanted to hear; and c) they never looked at his record.

  8. they still do not get that a liberal will never win republican state or district

    • Of course they don’t. The best option in those districts is “moderate.” These days, “center right” is still better than whatever the Republicans have become. The key thing for me is that they weren’t successful in the primaries. If you’re trying to make “a statement” about the Party, and demonstrate your clout, you’d better be able to win those at the very least. Primaries are where the base makes its voice heard, and their failure to succeed there just shows how much they’re not the base.

  9. Nathan Katungi

    Thanks for this excellent post, Norbrook! I especially liked your concluding statement:

    “So Adam wants the PCCC to push a progressive agenda? Elect progressive candidates? First, they have to win. They haven’t. In fact, they’ve done everything but win. Sirota and Schultz may call that sort of thing “effective,” but I don’t. I call it a waste of money.”

    That’s it in a nutshell! In politics if you don’t win you practically don’t get to influence policy decisions.

    I personally gave up on these “holier than thou progressives” who abandoned Al Gore to support Ralph Nader. Any fool would have known that Ralph Nader had ZERO chance of winning. Yet after the debacle of George W. Bush’s eight years, these “holier than thou progressives” are back at it again.

    They are doing their best to defeat a president who was able to win the support of the majority of Americans. Of course, in the case of Adam Green, Jane Hamsher, Ed Shultz, David Sirota, and Markos, I think it’s all about the almighty dollar! Electing a Republican would be a bonanza to them because all the frustrated Democrats would click on their sites or buy their books detailing the evilness of the Republicans.

    This is exactly what right wingers, like Glenn Beck, have done. President Obama has really been a cash cow for Glenn Beck. I can assure you that once Obama is no longer in office, people like Glenn Beck will be history. Not so for the PL. A Republican president will be a a major money maker.

    • I agree the motivation seems to be more the money than ideology. One of the things I saw on the web site stats for them was that once the 2008 election was over, their web site’s traffic plummeted. I’m pretty sure that the same held true for other aspects that they were using to take in money. It wasn’t until the “outrage” about the healthcare legislation that it rose back up, so they realized where the $$ was. After all, it’s hard to pay yourself $79K a year if money starts drying up, because progressive legislation keeps getting passed.