Move America Forward
Move America Forward (MAF) is a nonprofit charity formed in 2005 and based in Sacramento, California, which supports front-line troops of the United States Armed Forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending them care packages. However, the group has repeatedly misled donors and inflated its charitable accomplishments, while funneling millions of dollars to right-wing political consulting firms. Charity Navigator recommends against donating to the group, giving it 0 out of 4 possible stars.
Move America Forward grew out of the campaign to recall California Governor Gray Davis. It was established in May 2004 by Republican political consultant Sal Russo, former Republican assemblyman Howard Kaloogian and former KSFO 560 AM talk show host Melanie Morgan, both of whom now serve as Move America Forward's co-chairmen. Both Russo and Kaloogian served in key roles in the successful Recall Gray Davis Committee that prompted the 2003 gubernatorial California recall election of California's Democratic governor — Kaloogian as chairman of the recall campaign, Russo as chief strategist. In November 2003, one month after the successful recall election, Russo told the Los Angeles Daily News of the 120,000 recall supporters in his database. "We took on the political establishment and won, and they feel empowered, ... They want to be involved. ... We'll change the name to something like 'Move America Forward,'" and go national, he predicted. A week later, the domain name MoveAmericaForward.com was registered to Russo's public relations firm, Russo Marsh & Rogers. Both Kaloogian and Russo continued on with Move America Forward in essentially the same roles as in the Recall Gray Davis Committee.
Past activities have included:
- 2005 First MAF trip to Iraq called the “Voices of Soldiers” tour. The delegation interviewed soldiers so they could tell, in their own words, the successes in the fight against terrorism.
- 2006 Second MAF trip to Iraq, This “Gold Star” trip, including Gold Star moms, to Kurdistan was for the parents of fallen U.S. soldiers to see where their sons and daughters made the ultimate sacrifice.
- 2007 The first “Honoring our Heroes at the Holidays” national bus tour, which traveled to over 40 cities all across the United States. Seen as a huge success because MAF was able to collect over 200,000 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday cards for our troops.
- 2008 Sent a delegation to Guantanamo Bay to thank the troops for their tireless effort and service.
- The second “Honoring our Heroes at the Holidays” national bus tour. MAF was able to collect over 200,000 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday cards for our troops.
- 2011 Launched the “K9 Care Packages” program to support military working dogs and their handlers with items catered to help K9 bomb sniffing dogs that save lives by finding IED’s.
- 2012 On or about December 16, 25 packages worth around $5000 were stolen waiting to be shipped to soldiers in Afghanistan.
Policies and Programs
In addition to care packages, they also hold an annual online fundraiser called “Troopathon”, which is and eight-hour event to help send packages to United States troops broadcast live on the web. Past guests have included Gary Sinise, Jon Voight, Tammy Bruce, Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Ted Nugent, Duke Universities’ “Coach K” Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Sajak, Buzz Aldrin, Mike Huckabee, Gene Simmons, and John Ratzenberger.
The policies they promote include the removal of the United Nations headquarters from the United States, keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention camp open, the closing of the U.S.-Mexico border and the deportation of illegal aliens back to their countries of origin. MAF is known for vocally opposing politicians and political action groups and even media that it deems to be too liberal. At the same time, they advocate for conservative candidates and appointees.
Prominent Move America Forward campaigns have included the closing of the US-Mexico border (the MAF's "Secure Our Borders" campaign) and the ending of amnesty programs to illegal immigrants (through nomoreamnesty.com), support of John R. Bolton—an outspoken critic of the United Nations—to serve as the US representative to the United Nations, and restricting the distribution of the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 911. In August 2005, Move America Forward sponsored a You don't speak for me, Cindy! tour to counter Cindy Sheehan's protest at President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch (and the vigils in support of Sheehan that were held around the country). The organization also protested William Ayers when he made a speech at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California and has protested against the Lafayette hillside memorial.
In a partnership with the Jelly Belly Company, MAF introduced a program where soldiers would receive specially wrapped 2 oz. bags of jelly bellies to use as gift to the native people they were in contact on a daily basis with. Each specially marked package displays these words in English, Arabic, and Pashto: “A gift from the America People in hope that your country will one day enjoy the freedom and opportunities that we have in the United States"
- "Mission". Move America Forward. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Care Packages for the Troops". Move America Forward. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- Barker, Kim (August 5, 2014). "Pro-Troop Charity Misleads Donors While Lining Political Consultants’ Pockets". ProPublica.
- Weigel, David (August 5, 2014). "The Pro-Troop Charity That Happens to Pay Millions of Dollars to "Tea Party" Consultants". Slate (blog).
- "Calif. Gov. Davis Faces Recall Effort". CNN. 2003-06-17.
- Marsetta, Diane (2004). "Moving America One Step Forward And Two Steps Back". PR Watch.com – Center for Media and Democracy. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "About Us". Move America Forward. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "The Final Chapter of My Trip To Iraq". Access North Georgia. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Lompoc mom hopes to honor son's memory in trip to Iraq". sgtmacsbar.com. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Honoring our heroes this Memorial Day". USA Today. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Grinch Steals Christmas Care Packages Meant for Troops in Afghanistan". ABC News. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- "Mission". troopathon.org. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Save Gitmo Move America Forward.
- "Merry Christmas, and pass the ammunition". shanghaijill.wordpress.com. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Jelly beans fill an urgent need!". timesleaderonline.com. Retrieved 6 April 2013.