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Formation 1998
Membership 5 Million [1]

MoveOn is an American non-profit, progressive, public policy advocacy group[2] and political action committee which has raised millions of dollars for candidates of the Democratic Party in the United States.[3] It was formed in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[4]



MoveOn comprises two legal entities, each organized under a different section of U.S. tax and election laws. Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation,[5][6] [7][8] and was formerly known as MoveOn Civic Action focuses on education and advocacy on national issues. Political Action is a federal political action committee, and was formerly known as MoveOn PAC. It contributions to the campaigns of selected candidates across the country. MoveOn calls the legal structure of MoveOn Civic Action that of "a California nonprofit public benefit corporation" and Political Action that of "a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation," and refers to both corporations collectively as "MoveOn"[9].


MoveOn started in 1998 as an e-mail group,, created by computer entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the married cofounders of Berkeley Systems. They started by passing around a petition asking Congress to "censure President Clinton and move on", as opposed to impeaching him. The petition, passed around by word of mouth, was extremely successful; ultimately, they had half a million signatures.[10] The couple went on to start similar campaigns calling for, arms inspections rather than an invasion of Iraq, reinstatement of lower limits on arsenic and mercury pollution, and campaign finance reform.

Since 1998, MoveOn has raised millions of dollars for many Democratic candidates.[3] In November 2007, a drive spearheaded by MoveOn caused Facebook to change its controversial new "Beacon" program, which notified Facebook users about purchases by people on their friends list.[11] As of 2009, MoveOn claims a membership of 5.2 million, with 20 full-time and 20 part-time staffers.

Communication methods

MoveOn uses e-mail as its main conduit for communicating with members, sending action alerts at least once a week.[citation needed]

The web site also uses multi-media, including videos, audio downloads, and images. In addition to communicating via the Internet, MoveOn advertises using traditional print and broadcast media, as well as billboards, bus signs, and bumper stickers, digital versions of which are downloadable from its web site. It also contains an area called the "Action Forum", which functions much like a traditional electronic discussion group. The Action Forums act as a grassroots organization allowing members to propose priorities and strategies.[12]

Through this grassroots methodology, MoveOn collaborates with groups like in organizing street demonstrations, bake sales, house parties, and other opportunities for people to meet personally and act collectively in their own communities.[13]

Some of its core principles are that it is not dependent on foundation money and that it has the ability to use 'hard money' – as opposed to grants and tax-deductible contributions – which enables them to be partisan, contribute to political campaigns, and exercise clout in the political process.[citation needed]

Changes in federal election laws have also impacted groups like MoveOn. The McCain/Feingold election finance reform legislation, which went into effect in 2002, allowed political parties to raise larger amounts of "hard money" contributions, but were forbidden from raising "soft money". MoveOn, like many other political organizations which sought to influence the 2004 election, was able to circumvent this legislation using a 527 group, which became inactive in 2005 and closed in 2008.[14]

Call for Change

In preparation for the 2006 midterm elections, MoveOn created a new system for soliciting potential voters named Call for Change. As part of the Call for Change effort, registered voters in key voting districts were contacted by MoveOn members, who placed over 7 million phone calls as part of the effort.[15]


The MoveOn board is co-chaired by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. Carrie Olson is Chief Operating Officer and a board member. Eli Pariser serves as Board President. Justin Ruben is Executive Director.

Relationships with other organizations

MoveOn is a co-founder of, a civic organization that promotes progressive political action on issues such as climate change and religious conflicts.[citation needed]

MoveOn is not connected with MoveOnForAmerica (now known as Move America Forward), a conservative organization that was set up by Stephen Marks, a Republican political consultant.[citation needed]

Candidates supported

Since the 2000 election cycle, the MoveOn PAC has endorsed and supported the campaigns of candidates, including the 2008 candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, presidential candidate, nominee of the Democratic Party.[16]

Financial contributors

According to an article in the Washington Post dated March 10, 2004:

"The Democratic 527 organizations have drawn support from some wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush. They include financier George Soros who gave $1.46 million to Voter Fund (in the form of matching funds to recruit additional small donors); Peter B. Lewis, chief executive of the Progressive Corp., who gave $500,000 to Voter Fund; and Linda Pritzker, of the Hyatt hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., who gave $4 million to the joint fundraising committee."[17] ceased receiving any donations to its 527 after the 2004 election, and closed the 527 permanently in 2008. MoveOn's primary source of funding is its members. raised nearly 60 million dollars in 2004 from its members alone, with an average donation of $50.


MoveOn was criticized by a Jewish advocacy group, among others, when a member-submitted ad which drew parallels between President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler was submitted to their online ad contest "Bush in 30 Seconds". The ad was part of an online MoveOn-sponsored contest, "Bush in 30 Seconds", during the 2004 presidential election, in which members were invited to create and submit political ads challenging President Bush and his administration.[18][19] The advertisement was quickly pulled off the website.[18]

Fox News criticized the organization after it successfully encouraged the 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates not to attend two debates sponsored by the network. Fox News advisor David Rhodes and the network's commentators Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly have also made accusations that "owns" the Democratic Party.[20][21] This stems from a 2004 e-mail composed by Eli Pariser, among others, stating that, in regards to the Democratic Party: "Grassroots contributors like us ... bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."[22]

MoveOn was criticized by 31 Republican senators and one independent senator for running a print ad in The New York Times that questioned the personal integrity of General David Petraeus, with headlines such as "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and "Cooking the Books for the White House".[23] On September 20, 2007, the Senate passed an amendment by Republican John Cornyn III of Texas designed to "strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus". All forty-nine Republican Senators, as well as twenty-two Democratic Senators, voted in support. The House passed a similar resolution by a 341-79 vote on September 26, 2007.[24]

On September 20, 2007, The Washington Post stated: "Democrats blamed the group [] for giving moderate Republicans a ready excuse for staying with Bush and for giving Bush and his supporters a way to divert attention away from the war."[25][26][27]

The New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt later stated in an op-ed that MoveOn was mistakenly charged US$77,000 less for the ad than it should have been under Times policies,[28] and MoveOn announced that it would pay The New York Times the difference in price.[29] ran more ads using a 'betrayal' theme, with TV spots targeting former President Bush and former Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani specifically.[30][31] Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani ran his own full-page ad in The New York Times on September 14, 2007.[32][33][34] Giuliani asked for and received a similar reduced fee as, paying US$65,000.[35][36]

Google and MoveOn have been accused of selective adherence to trademark law for removing ads from Google Adwords for Maine Senator Susan Collins, citing infringement of MoveOn trademarks.[37][38] Wired stated on October 15, 2007 that the "left-leaning political advocacy group,, is backing down" and will allow Google to show the ads. communications director Jennifer Lindenauer said: "We don't want to support a policy that denies people freedom of expression."[39]

On June 17, 2008, MoveOn emailed its members stating that it had produced "the most effective TV ad we've ever created."[40] The ad depicts a mother telling Republican and former presidential nominee John McCain that she will not let him use her infant son, Alex, as a soldier in the war in Iraq. Subsequent to the ad's release, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, "praised" MoveOn for "10 years of making even people who agree with you cringe."[41] New York Times columnist Bill Kristol criticized the ad in a column, saying that Alex would not be old enough to serve in the military before term limits require McCain to leave office.[42]


  • MoveOn. (2004). MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country. Maui, Hawaii: Inner Ocean Pub.. ISBN 1-930722-29-X. 
  • Laura Dawn (ed.), ed (2006). It Takes a Nation: How Strangers Became Family in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina. foreword by Barack Obama, photographs by C.B. Smith. Earth Aware. ISBN 1-932771-86-7. 


  1. ^ "About the MoveOn Family of Organizations". Retrieved 2010-03-01. "With 5 million members across America..." 
  2. ^ "Senate Approves Resolution Denouncing Ad". The New York Times. September 21, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Baon, Perry Jr. (2007-09-21). "MoveOn Unfazed By Furor Over Ad". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  4. ^ "About the MoveOn Family of Organizations". Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  5. ^ "§ 501. Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.". 
  6. ^ "About the MoveOn Family of Organizations". Retrieved 2010-03-08. " Civic Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization" 
  7. ^ "Social Welfare Organizations".,,id=96178,00.html. Retrieved 2010-03-08. "a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may further its exempt purposes through lobbying as its primary activity without jeopardizing its exempt status" 
  8. ^ cite web|url=
  9. ^
  10. ^ "MoveOn as an Instrument of the People", AlterNet, June 25, 2004. Retrieved from
  11. ^ Liedtke, Michael (2007-11-30). "Facebook revamps new advertising system", Associated Press, November 30, 2007. Retrieved from
  12. ^ " becomes anti-Bush powerhouse". CNN. 2004-01-13. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  13. ^ Hazen, Don (2003-02-11). "Moving On: A New Kind of Peace Activism". AlterNet. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  14. ^ Johnson, Sasha (2008-06-20). shutters its 527. Retrieved from
  15. ^ " Political Action: Democracy in Action". Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  16. ^ (2008-02-01). "MoveOn Endorsement Throws Progressive Weight Behind Barack Obama". Press release. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  17. ^ "Democrats Forming Parallel Campaign". Washington Post. 2004-03-10. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  18. ^ a b "Hitler Ad Should Never Have Appeared On". Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  19. ^ "PR Newswire: Public Interest Services". Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  20. ^ Hennessey, Kathleen (March 9, 2007), "Nevada Democrats cancel candidate debate co-hosted by Fox News", Las Vegas Sun,, retrieved 2007-09-30 
  21. ^ "Dems cancel debate over Fox chief's Obama joke". CNN. 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  22. ^ Johnson, Ben (2004-12-10). "MoveOn: "We Bought" the Democratic Party". FrontPage Magazine.{89BC7BB2-298F-4B8D-99DF-A9EA273A0559}. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  23. ^ "GOP calls on top Senate Dem to condemn anti-Petraeus ad". CNN. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ "MoveOn Unmoved By Furor Over Ad Targeting Petraeus -".<!. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  26. ^ Flaherty, Anne (2007-09-20). "Senate Condemns "General Betray Us" Ad". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  27. ^ Marre, Klaus (2007-09-26). "House overwhelmingly condemns MoveOn ad". The Hill. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  28. ^ Hoyt, Mark (2007-09-23). "Betraying Its Own Best Interests". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Vekshin, Alison (2007-09-23). " Says It Will Pay Times More for Controversial Ad". Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  30. ^ "Anger over 'Betray Us' Ad Simmers on Hill" in NPR
  31. ^ "Putting the moves on" in The Toronto Star
  32. ^ "Giuliani Plans Full-Page Ad Defending Petraeus -".<!. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  33. ^ "Angered by an Antiwar Ad, Giuliani Seeks Equal Space". The New York Times. 
  34. ^ "Rudy Blasts Hillary Again Over MoveOn Ad, Giuliani Continues To Call For Clinton To Denounce Petraeus Ad, Apologize - CBS News". CBS News<!. 2007-09-17. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  35. ^ "Giuliani slams New York Times over anti-Petraeus ad - The Boston Globe". 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  36. ^ "General Petraeus ad nets Giuliani big bucks from donors". 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  37. ^ "Sen. Susan Collins' Web Ads Run Up Against Google, - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum". 2007-10-12.,2933,301267,00.html. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  38. ^ Chavez, Pablo (2007-10-12). "Google Public Policy Blog: Our advertising policies and political speech". Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  39. ^ Stirland, Sarah Lai (2007-10-15). "Reverses: Allows Critical Ads on Google". 
  40. ^ "Baby's mom tells McCain in new ad: "You can't have him"". Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  41. ^ "Television: Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?". 
  42. ^ "Op-Ed Columnist: Someone Else’s Alex". 

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