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Secretary of State Project

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The SOS Project, or the Secretary of State Project, was an independent 527 political organization founded in July 2006 under the premise of advancing 'election protection' measures. Members believed that the only way in which to accomplish such a goal was to devote all efforts and resources toward helping get Democrats elected to the offices of Secretary of State in selected swing, or battleground, states, specifically those whose margin of victory in the 2004 presidential election contest was 120,000 votes or less.

The SOS project has not been active since 2010. It spent just over $50,000 in 2012 and its website was taken down.

Democracy Alliance

The SOS Project stemmed largely from the Democracy Alliance, a self-described 'liberal organization' founded in 2005 "whose long-term objective is to raise $200 million to develop a funding clearinghouse for progressive groups."[1] Rob Stein, former chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Ron Brown under the Clinton administration, conceived of, and later directed, the Democracy Alliance on the belief that liberals could just as easily replicate the conservative movement in their building effective institutions for developing new ideas and promoting public policies.

Among its founding members and donators were billionaire George Soros, Peter B. Lewis, Susie Tompkins Buell, trial lawyer Guy Saperstein, trial lawyer Fred Baron, movie director Rob Reiner, Norman Lear, Drummond Pike, Rob McKay, Rutt Bridges, Patricia Stryker, Rob Glaser, Rob Johnson, Anne Bartley, Jonathan Heller, Charles Rodgers, Gail Furman, Davidi Gilo, Rachel Pritzker Hunter and the Service Employees International Union.

Financially well off individuals who were approached about donating to the Democracy Alliance-endorsed think tanks and political advocacy groups were required to make an initial pledge of $200,000 per year for five years. Recipients of these donations were sworn to secrecy not to disclose from whom these donations came from, or how much. Progressive political organizations that were known to have received financial assistance from the Democracy Alliance include ACORN, Media Matters for America, EMILY's List, and the Center for American Progress, among others.[2]

Soros and Peter Lewis, at a panel discussion held during the Democratic National Committee's 2008 convention in Denver, Colorado, declared that the Democracy Alliance had approved the Secretary of State Project as a grantee of the political organization.[3]


George Soros, who donated nearly $10,000 to the Secretary of State Project, declared that the Democracy Alliance had approved the 527 political organization as a grantee at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

The Secretary of State Project originated due to the culmination of frustration, anger, bitterness and overall resentment Democrats felt towards Republicans in the wake of President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. Still plagued with memories of Katherine Harris and Florida from the 2000 presidential contest, Democrats placed the blame for Senator John Kerry’s loss squarely on the head of former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who ruled that provisional ballots in the state would not be counted if they were submitted in the wrong precinct, a decision upheld by the United States Court of Appeals. Bush’s victory in the state – a relatively slim 118,000+ votes – gave him the necessary electoral votes (twenty) to cross the victory threshold of two hundred and seventy.

Democratic founders of the SOS Project saw conspiracy in Blackwell's decision, insisting that those individuals who were elected on the principle of upholding and enforcing election laws were, in fact, political operatives. But rather then push for reform so that the offices of the Secretaries of State reflected a level of neutrality, perhaps making it so holders of those positions were elected on a nonpartisan basis, they instead sought to implement an aggressive agenda exactly the same in nearly every respect that they had just accused Republicans of performing. Through the strategic process of placing specific candidates, ones that met a certain liberal or progressive criteria set down by the organization, in positions of power that oversaw and administered state elections, the Democratic Party would be "better positioned than in the previous elections to advance traditional Democratic interests," particularly when it came to the administration of election laws.[4]


Becky Bond

“Any serious commitment to wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party must include removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count.”[5]

Bond's affiliations with Democratic political groups included: U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), an 'apolitical' campus organization that used its revenues to underwrite a host of leftist and environmentalist causes including campaigns pushing for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and playing a critical role in the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1990; New Organizing Interest (NOI), founded in 2005 by the executive director of Eli Pariser as a grassroots program that trained young, technology-enabled political organizers to work for progressive campaigns and organizations.

Michael Kieschnick

In addition to the SOS Project, Kieschnick served as president of Working Assets, also known as Credo Mobile, which provided more than 300,000 customers across the United States with long-distance and wireless telephone services and credit cards. The company also donated nearly $60 million since its founding in 1985 to progressive organizations such as ACORN, the ACLU, Color of Change, Democracy Now!, Greenpeace International, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, People for the American Way, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Project Vote.[6]

James Rucker

For two years beginning in 2003, Rucker served as Director of Grassroots Mobilization for MoveOn Political Action and MoveOn Civic Action. He ran the Color of Change, online activist organization that aimed to strengthen the voice of blacks in the United States. The organization raised media awareness for the cause in support of the Jena Six and led the charge for a boycott of Glenn Beck's highly rated Fox News Channel program after the conservative personality called President Obama a racist. He co-founded the political group with former green jobs czar and self-proclaimed Communist Anthony "Van" Jones.


The SOS Project shared a number of prominent contributors with Democracy Alliance, among them Gail Furman ($20,000), Daniel Berger ($10,000), George Soros ($10,000), Susie T. Buell ($5,000), Drummond Pike ($5,000) and Ashindi Maxton ($300).

As a 527 political organization, the Secretary of State Project "can accept unlimited financial contributions and doesn't have to disclose them publicly until well after the election."[3]

2008 Election cycle

Amount Donor Organization City, State Date
$15,000 Paul Rudd Adaptive Analytics LLC San Francisco CA 09/30/08[7]
$10,000 Scott Wallace Linowes & Blocher Bethesda MD 09/30/08
$4,000 Steven des Jardins Retired Washington DC 09/30/08
$25,000 Judith Avery Retired San Francisco CA 09/30/08
$25,000 Blair Hull Matlock Capital LLC Chicago IL 09/30/08
$3,000 John Cawley Pacific Gourmet San Francisco CA 07/13/08
$500 Catherine Coates Retired Oakland CA 09/30/08
$10,000 George Soros Soros Fund Management Katonah, NY 09/30/08
$333 LawrenceLitvak Lawrencelitvak Mill Valley CA 09/21/08
$31 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 02/04/07
$24 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 05/28/07
$1 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 06/03/07
$1 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 05/06/07
$10 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 01/07/07
$5 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 03/11/07
$58 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 04/01/07
$7 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge MA 02/19/07
$250 George Miller Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett New York NY 10/20/08
$200 John Gilbert Habsel Brookline MA 10/07/08
$200 Katherine Brady Immigrant Legal Resource Center Berkeley CA 10/23/08
$800 Celia Gilbert Unemployed Cambridge MA 10/09/08
$300 Yoko Ax Musician New York NY 10/11/08
$200 James Murphy Group Health Cooperative Seattle WA 10/29/08
$200 Irene Weigel Partners Healthcare Lincoln MA 10/11/08
$200 James Daley Retired Richmond, CA 10/11/08
$5,000 Megan Hull Consultant Washington DC 10/30/08
$200 Robert Southwood Fulcrum Microsystems Inc Chatsworth, CA 10/11/08
$200 Barbara Grasseschi Puma Springs Vineyards Healdsburg, CA 10/28/08
$2 Aggregate below threshold Aggregate Below Threshold San Francisco, CA 12/31/07
$5,625 Aggregate below threshold Aggregate Below Threshold San Francisco, CA 09/30/08
$400 Nancy Kurtz Homemaker South Dartmouth, MA 09/30/08
$400 Jane Jervis Retired San Rafael, CA 09/30/08
$25,000 Chirs Findlatter Entrepreneur Cheyenne, WY 09/30/08
$222 Michael Brightwood Therapist San Diego, CA 09/30/08
$25,000 Robert Bowditch MB Management Brookline, MA 09/30/08
$500 Conference Management Group Conference Management Group Washington DC 09/30/08
$10,000 Scott Wallace Linowes & Blocher Bethesda, MD 09/30/08
$10,000 Lee Fikes Bonanza Oil Dallas, TX 09/30/08
$5,000 Albert Dwoskin Aj Dwoskin & Assoc Fairfax VA 09/30/08
$300 Ashindi Maxton Democracy Alliance Washington DC 09/30/08
$1,000 Robert Stein Retired Washington DC 09/30/08
$24 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge, MA 04/29/07
$6 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge, MA 03/04/07
$2 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge, MA 01/15/07
$4,620 SOS Project - Ohio SOS Project-Ohio San Francisco, CA 01/29/07
$483 ActBlue ActBlue Cambridge, MA 05/20/07
$2,500 Steve Phillips Attorney San Francisco, CA 10/30/08
$200 James Mullins University of Washington Medicine Seattle, WA 10/23/08
$200 Stefan Frembgen Ingmar Medical Pittsburgh, PA 10/11/08
$40 Aggregate below threshold Aggregate Below Threshold San Francisco, CA 12/31/08
$10,000 EMILY's List EMILY's List Washington DC 10/30/08
$5,000 Drummond Pike Tides LLC Mill Valley, CA 10/30/08
$250 Maria McVarish Architect San Francisco, CA 10/30/08
$25,000 Rob McKay Sacramento Street Partners San Francisco, CA 10/30/08
$10,000 Michael Kieschnick Working Assets Long Distance Palo Alto, CA 10/24/08
$10,372 Aggregate below threshold Aggregate Below Threshold San Francisco CA 11/24/08
$25,000 Alida Messinger Philanthropist Minneapolis MN 10/30/08
$2,500 Christine Uribe Consultant San Francisco CA 10/30/08

2006 Election cycle

Amount Donor Organization City, State Date
$1,304 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 09/10/06[8]
$14,440 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 11/05/06
$20,664 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 11/01/06
$7,722 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 10/22/06
$10,000 Gerald Leeds Institute for Student Achievement Boston MA 10/31/06
$164 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 11/07/06
$10,306 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 10/29/06
$20,000 Secretary of State Project - Ohio Secretary of State Project - Ohio San Francisco CA 11/01/06
$5,000 Arts PAC- Non Federal Arts PAC New York NY 10/25/06
$3,448 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 09/17/06
$5,523 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 10/01/06
$2,974 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 10/15/06
$5,235 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 10/08/06
$500 Rebecca Bond Working Assets Long Distance San Francisco CA 07/31/06
$302 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 09/04/06
$10 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 08/27/06
$32,000 Michael Kieschnick Working Assets Long Distance Palo Alto CA 08/06/06
$1,010 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 09/24/06
$20,000 Gail Furman Consultant New York NY 11/09/06
$5,000 Susie T Buell Retired San Francisco CA 10/26/06
$8,031 ActBlue Non-Federal ActBlue Cambridge MA 10/25/06
$10,000 Lilo Leeds Institute for Student Achievement Boston MA 10/31/06
$10,000 Daniel Berger Berger & Montague Philadelphia PA 11/03/06
$25,350 Arthur Lipson Western Investment Salt Lake City, UT 10/11/06


State Election Year Candidate Contribution Margin of Victory
Ohio 2006 Jennifer Brunner $167,000[9] 14.6%
Missouri 2008 Robin Carnahan $13,736 26.2%
Nevada 2006 Ross Miller $33,825[10] 8.1%
West Virginia 2006 Natalie Tennant $12,653 30%
Iowa 2006 Michael Mauro $23,538 7.4%
Minnesota 2006 Mark Ritchie $23,042 4.9%
Oregon 2008 Kate Brown $65,000[11] 5.2%
New Mexico 2006 Mary Herrera $50,000[9] 8.4%
Montana 2008 Linda McCulloch $19,407 1.1%

See also