VoteVets.org

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VoteVets.org
VoteVets logo.png
MottoCountry. Service. Action.
Established2006; 14 years ago (2006)
Founders
Type
Focus
Membership (2020)
c. 700,000[2]
WebsiteVoteVets.org

VoteVets.org is a political action committee (PAC) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization in the United States.[1][3][4][5][6][7] It was co-founded in 2006 by Jon Soltz and Jeremy Broussard.

Initially composed of United States Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, the organization views defense policy as an American priority. In 2020, the stated goal of the PAC is to elect veterans to public office that "fully support our men and women in uniform."[2] According to the group's website, in 2020, the group is backed by over 700,000 supporters, including veterans, military families and civilians.[2]

VoteVets.org describes itself as a progressive organization, but has endorsed Democrats and Republicans for office.[2] In media, they have been described as "closely aligned with Congressional Democrats," and "liberal" by The New York Times and The Washington Post.[8][9][10]

By election[edit]

2006[edit]

During the United States 2006 election cycle, VoteVets.org PAC spent between $1.2 and $2 million (sources differ) trying to influence the outcomes of various congressional races.[11][12] Senators targeted by the VoteVets' campaign for their support of the Iraq War included Republicans George Allen, Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, and Jim Talent.[12] For each congressional campaign, they released a television advertisement criticizing the (now former) senators for their vote against body armor for US troops in 2003.[13] VoteVets claim was based, in part, on the Republican senators' vote against an amendment offered[14] by Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, in 2003, to boost National Guard and Reserves equipment funding by $1 billion.[15] The group FactCheck.org (a self-described non-partisan project of the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania) stated that the ad was misleading because the 2003 Senate budget amendment (on which the criticism was based) made no specific reference to "body armor".[16] However, the progressive Media Matters for America repeatedly pointed out what it said were "misleading" statements about the ads by FactCheck.org.[17][18][19][20]

The group also ran ads targeting now-former Republican Representatives Melissa Hart, Gil Gutknecht, John Sweeney, John Doolittle, and Jon Porter. In that ad, an Iraq veteran, Tomas Young, who was paralyzed in Iraq, criticized the members of Congress for voting against increases in funding for veterans’ health care, while, in some cases, voting themselves a pay raise.

The group also made a number of contributions to candidates, but only to those candidates who served during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2006, out of all the Iraq or Afghanistan veterans running for Congress, VoteVets.org supported all but one of them (Van Taylor, Republican in Texas). Those endorsed candidates were: Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Joe Sestak (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sam Schultz (R-IN), Andrew Duck (D-MD), and David Harris (D-TX). The group also supported Tim Walz (D-MN), and Chris Carney (D-PA). Murphy, Sestak, Walz, and Carney were all elected to Congress, and VoteVets.org’s site indicated they were endorsed for their 2008 reelection.

2008[edit]

VoteVets.org Political Action Committee continued to endorse Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for Congress in the 2008 elections. Those included Rick Noriega (D-TX) who ran for Senate in Texas against incumbent John Cornyn, and many who ran for the House, including John Boccieri (D-OH), Michael D. Lumpkin (D-CA), Ashwin Madia (D-MN), Jill Morgenthaler (D-IL), Steve Sarvi (D-MN), and Jonathan Powers (D-NY). The group endorsed candidates who are not Iraq or Afghanistan combat veterans, including Eric Massa (D-NY), and Gary Peters (D-MI), who had both served within the past decade. The group also held an on-line runoff, in which members were able to vote for one older veteran to endorse. That runoff was won by Charlie Brown (D-CA), who the group endorsed.[21]

The group also endorsed the candidates who it endorsed in 2006 and reached Congress, Democratic Representatives Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Tim Walz, and Chris Carney. Overall, VoteVets PAC contributed nearly $500,000 to candidates and other PACs during the 2008 election cycle.[22]

While VoteVets did not officially endorse a candidate for president in 2008, the group did publicly support Barack Obama's plan for Iraq and actively opposed John McCain's campaign for President, despite McCain being an honored war veteran.[4]

2010[edit]

In 2010, VoteVets endorsed the following candidates for House in the general election:[23]

2012[edit]

In 2012, VoteVets endorsed the following candidates for House and Senate in the general election:[24]

2014[edit]

In 2014, VoteVets endorsed the following candidates for House and Senate in the general election:[25]

2016[edit]

In 2016, VoteVets endorsed the following candidates for House and Senate in the general election:[26]

Additionally, the group endorsed a number of candidates for Governor:

2018[edit]

In 2018, VoteVets endorsed the following candidates for House and Senate in the general election:[27]

The group also endorsed Conor Lamb in a special election in PA-18, and again in the general election, in November of 2018.

Additionally, the group endorsed a number of candidates for Governor:

Action Fund[edit]

VoteVets.org Action Fund, the group's non-profit wing, has also been active in the paid airwaves. The first ad generated by the action fund was an ad critical of then-Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, for "failing to ask the tough questions" on the war. The group ran a newspaper ad and radio ad, featuring Jeremy Broussard, in Connecticut. The Action Fund also commissioned a 2006 poll, conducted by pollster Celinda Lake, of troops who had returned from Iraq. That poll found many troops did not feel they were given what they needed to succeed in Iraq, and even more had faced medical, mental, and financial hardship when they returned home.

The action fund ran a television ad that gained national prominence titled, "Because of Iraq." That ad was notable because it included the image of another television ad, featuring Osama bin Laden, produced by the Republican National Committee, commonly referred to as the "ticking time bomb" ad. The ad from VoteVets begins with a series of veterans of the war explaining what they felt was a negative impact of the war in Iraq. For example, one veteran said, "Because of Iraq, there are more terrorists in the world." At the end of the VoteVets ad, General Wesley Clark says, "So if you see commercials telling you to be afraid of terrorism, remember: It's because of Iraq."

In a series of ads that may have received the most attention for the group, VoteVets.org presented three generals, two of whom were commanders on the ground in Iraq, who became critical of President Bush's execution of the war. Those were Major General (ret.) John Batiste, Major General (ret.) Paul Eaton, and General Wesley Clark. Major General Batiste had commanded the First Infantry Division in Iraq, and Major General Eaton had been the first to be in command of rebuilding Iraqi Defense Forces after the fall of the Saddam regime. Those ads ran in the districts of Congressmen and Senators that the group felt were ready to abandon the President on the war. In fact, four targets of the ad were part of the so-called "gang of eleven" Republicans who went to the White House to complain to President Bush about the war, right after the ad aired. Though some claimed the targets of the ad were "vulnerable Republicans," some of the targets, including Reps. Fred Upton and Mike Rogers, have easily won reelection in the past, and are considered "safe" seats.

In 2008, the Action Fund undertook two major actions that received national attention. First, the organization, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington exposed an internal email from a Department of Veterans Affairs center in Temple, Texas, which read in part, "Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that we refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD.[28] The exposing of the email caused Senator Barack Obama to call for hearings, and for Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate, Senator Daniel Akaka, to hold such hearings.[29]

The second major action was a public push for a 21st Century GI Bill, which would boost the amount troops received in education benefits. The Action Fund backed the bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Webb and Senator Chuck Hagel. As part of the group's efforts, it released an internet video with Brave New Films, urging the passage of the bill,[30] with an attached petition, which received 30,000 signatures, according to the group. It also aired television ads, targeting Senators John McCain and John Cornyn,[31] who did not support the bill.

Since that time, VoteVets Action Fund has taken on a large number of other issues, including advocating for the close of the prison at Guantanamo Bay,[32] cutting dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels[33][34][35][36][37][38], taking on predatory lenders that target veterans,[39] repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,[40]  and advocating for the Iran Nuclear Deal, with senior advisor Major General (Ret.) Paul Eaton even going so far as to call Senator Tom Cotton’s attempt to dissuade Iran from entering into the deal[41] as “mutinous.”[42]

During the Trump administration, VoteVets Action Fund has taken the lead in opposing reinstatement of the transgender ban,[43] shifting of funds meant for military bases and families to a wall on the southern border,[44][45] and a military parade for Trump to review.[46]  The group also was a leading voice in the effort to rename Army bases that are currently named after Confederate military officers, launching an online video that was retweeted over 33,000 times.[47]

PAC Disbursements[edit]

According to OpenSecrets, VoteVets PAC is both a PAC and Super PAC. It has spent over $11 million in the 2016 election cycle and over $12 million in the 2018 cycle.[48]

Chairman's leave of absence[edit]

In November 2010, Iraq War veteran and chairman of the group, Jon Soltz, announced a one-year leave of absence from the organization to deploy to Iraq, as part of Operation New Dawn. The group continued its work with an interim chairman, Iraq War veteran Ashwin Madia, who was the group's vice chairman since 2009. The rest of the VoteVets.org infrastructure remained the same.[49]

On December 12, 2011, Soltz returned as chairman after completing his deployment.[50]

General John Batiste video[edit]

In May 2007, retired Major General John Batiste appeared in a political video for VoteVets.org.[51] As part of a $500,000 campaign, variations of the video were shown in a number of congressional districts and also included two other retired generals: Paul D. Eaton and Wesley K. Clark. [52] Batiste had been an Iraq War news consultant for CBS News. However, following his appearance in the video, CBS stated that appearing in the advertisement violated their contract, and Batiste was asked to "vacate his position."[53]

See also[edit]

Other US Veterans groups

  • Veterans for Peace - American organization founded in 1985 consisting of combat and peacetime veterans who work to promote alternatives to war.
  • American Legion - A large organization of veterans of the United States armed forces who served in wartime. The American Legion was founded in 1919 by veterans returning from Europe after World War I.
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars - Originally formed in 1914 by merging two existing veterans organizations, the VFW is composed of combat veterans of the United States armed forces who served in wartime.
  • Iraq Veterans Against the War - American political advocacy organization founded by Iraq veterans. Their stated purposes are bringing an end to the occupation of Iraq, obtaining benefits for returning veterans, and bringing reparations to the Iraqi people.
  • Veterans for Freedom - American political advocacy organization founded by veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. Its stated purpose is advocacy of victory in America's ongoing War on Terrorism, and support of candidates with positions consistent with this goal.

Views on 2003 United States-Iraq War

  • Opposition to the Iraq War - Article about opposition (from outside Iraq) to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Iraq War in general.
  • Views on the 2003 invasion of Iraq - Article containing links to several topics relating to views on the invasion, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq.
  • Iraq: Opposing Viewpoints - A book in the Opposing Viewpoints series, presenting selections of contrasting viewpoints on four central questions about the Iraq War and its aftermath.

Other

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "VoteVets.org | The Voice of America's 21st Century Patriots". Retrieved 2020-06-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e "About | VoteVets.org". Retrieved 2020-06-20.
  3. ^ Beutler, Brian (April 23, 2009). "Progressive Groups Organize For Clean Energy". TPM DC. Retrieved May 8, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Koppelman, Alex (July 23, 2008). "VoteVets targets McCain with new ad". Salon. Salon's War Room Blog. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  5. ^ Geraghty, Jim (2007-05-15). "VoteDems, Er, I Mean, VoteVets Goes After John McCain". National Review. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  6. ^ Smith, Ben (April 27, 2009). "VoteVets on climate". Politico's Ben Smith's Blog. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  7. ^ Curry, Tom (May 11, 2007). "Democratic-linked groups mount ad offensive". NBC News. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  8. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (2008-05-23). "Senate Passes $165 Billion Measure to Pay for Wars". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
  9. ^ Hulse, Carl (2007-10-03). "Limbaugh Latest Target In War of Condemnation". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
  10. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (2008-02-26). "Liberal Advocacy Groups Take Aim at McCain". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-18.
  11. ^ Horrigan, Marie (May 11, 2007). "New Mexico Rep. Wilson's Foes Seek to Keep Her on Defensive Over Iraq". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  12. ^ a b Gray, Geoffrey (2006-11-10). "How Jon Soltz Beat Republicans at the Attack-Ad Game". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  13. ^ YouTube Vote Vets PAC television advertisement against George Allen.
  14. ^ (No Author) (April 6, 2003). "HOW THEY VOTED". The San Diego Union-Tribune, States News Service. Accessed via Lexis Nexis.
  15. ^ Lewis, Bob (September 13, 2006). "Veterans' group to air ad attacking Allen". The Associated Press State & Local Wire. Accessed via Lexis Nexis.
  16. ^ Rotstein, Gary (November 20, 2006). "Vets Group's Attack Ads Targeted GOP". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania). Accessed via Lexis Nexis.
  17. ^ "AP advanced FactCheck.org's misleading criticism of Vote Vets ad targeting Allen". Media Matters for America. September 22, 2006.
  18. ^ "In defense of Allen, Cal Thomas cited FactCheck.org's already-debunked criticism of Vote Vets ad". Media Matters for America. September 28, 2006.
  19. ^ "Media Still Using Debunked FactCheck.org Analysis to Discredit VoteVets Ad in Senate Contests". Media Matters for America. September 28, 2006.
  20. ^ ""Still criticizing Vote Vets ad, FactCheck.org's Jackson falsely claimed, "There has never been a vote on body armour""". Media Matters for America. September 30, 2006.
  21. ^ "VoteVets.org | Candidates". web.archive.org. 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  22. ^ "COMMITTEE (C00418897) SUMMARY REPORTS - 2007-2008 CYCLE". Query.nictusa.com. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  23. ^ "VoteVets.org | Candidates". web.archive.org. 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  24. ^ "Our Candidates | VoteVets.org". web.archive.org. 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  25. ^ "Candidates | VoteVets.org". web.archive.org. 2014-09-26. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  26. ^ "Candidates | VoteVets.org". web.archive.org. 2018-11-08. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  27. ^ "Candidates | VoteVets.org". web.archive.org. 2018-11-08. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  28. ^ "E-mail from VA worker says to avoid PTSD diagnosis". Associated Press. May 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
  29. ^ Shane, Leo (June 6, 2008). "VA officials answer criticisms in Congress". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
  30. ^ Brave New Films (3 April 2008). "Why Won't McCain Sign the GI Bill?". Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ votevets (19 May 2008). "VoteVets.org Ad on Cornyn/ GI Bill". Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ "Why Veterans Are Descending on DC to Close Gitmo". VoteVets.org. 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  33. ^ "Veterans Launch $2 Million Television Ad Blitz Calling on Congress to Cut Our Dependence on Oil & Pass Comprehensive Energy Legislation". VoteVets.org. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  34. ^ Smith, Richard Allen (2010-02-04). "VetVoice:: Vets Launch $2m TV Ad Campaign on Energy and Terror". webarchive.loc.gov. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  35. ^ Smith, Richard Allen (2010-04-06). "VetVoice:: New Poll Shows Support For Clean Energy Among post-9/11 Vets". webarchive.loc.gov. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  36. ^ "Veterans Put Over $2 Million on Air Backing Clean Energy". VoteVets.org. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  37. ^ "First Ad Tying Gulf Oil Spill With National Security, Launched by Vets with $1.5 Million Ad Buy". VoteVets.org. 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  38. ^ Anderson, Steven M. (2010-07-19). "VetVoice:: Why I Back Clean Energy In This Ad". webarchive.loc.gov. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  39. ^ Christopher, Tommy. "Trump team wants to let payday lenders rip off military service members". The American Independent. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  40. ^ "VoteVets.org Begins Campaign to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy". VoteVets.org. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  41. ^ Fisher, Max (2015-03-10). "The uproar over Sen. Tom Cotton's letter to Iran, explained". Vox. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  42. ^ Capehart, Jonathan. "Tom Cotton picked apart by Army general over 'mutinous' Iran letter". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  43. ^ "Statement of VoteVets on Trump Banning Trans Service in the Military". VoteVets.org. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  44. ^ "VoteVets Slams Trump for Raiding Troops' Retirement Appropriation to Fund Wall". VoteVets.org. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  45. ^ Martin, Dan Desai. "Vets slam Trump's 'horrifying' plan to take funds from military kids". The American Independent. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  46. ^ "@VoteVets". Twitter. 2018-02-06. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  47. ^ "@VoteVets". Twitter. 2020-06-12. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  48. ^ "VoteVets.org Summary | OpenSecrets". www.opensecrets.org. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  49. ^ "VoteVets.org Chairman to Take Leave of Absence to Deploy to Iraq as Part of 'Operation New Dawn'". VoteVets.org. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  50. ^ Terkel, Amanda (2011-12-12). "VoteVets Gears Up For 2012 Election As Chair Jon Soltz Returns From Iraq". Huffington Post.
  51. ^ "Ret. Generals' Ads Protest Bush Iraq Plan". CBS News. May 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  52. ^ SHANKER, THOM (May 13, 2007). "Army Career Behind Him, General Speaks Out on Iraq". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  53. ^ Brian Montopoli (2007-05-11). "CBS News Asks Batiste To Step Down As Consultant". CBS News. Retrieved 2007-05-12.

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