The progressive W.K. Kellogg Foundation has played a key role in attacks on True The Vote and voter identification laws by funding “national racial justice organization” the Applied Research Center (ARC). In April 2012, ARC’s Colorlines.com partnered with The Nation to create an election-year feature providing “in-depth coverage of voter suppression efforts nationwide.”
Grant data show that between 2005 and 2010, ARC received $1.12 million from the ACORN-connected Tides Foundation and $715,000 from George Soros’s Open Society Institute. The Ford Foundation gave ARC $1.15 million from 2008 to 2010, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) paid ARC more than $200,000 for “consulting” in 2011.
Starting in 2010, ARC received a massive cash infusion from W.K. Kellogg. The Michigan-based foundation committed $1.2 million to ARC for “general operating support” from 2010-2012, followed by a $400,000 three-year grant beginning March 2012 and another $3.6 million three-year grant in September 2012.
ARC Executive Director Rinku Sen, a board member for AFL-CIO’s Working America, cited “attempts to deny the vote to communities of color” in a release announcing Voting Rights Watch 2012. Nation columnist Brentin Mock was introduced as the project’s star reporter.
Though its W.K. Kellogg funding is part of an “America Healing” initiative purportedly meant to “promote racial healing and address racial inequity,” ARC routinely smears True The Vote and other supporters of commonsense voter ID law as lying racists.
“Its like the Koch-funded propaganda campaigns to block climate change truths by declaring it a hoax,” Mock wrote of a True The Vote event in May 2012. “Except here they use an actual hoax – voter fraud – to block voting rights.”
Mock suggested America Healing held the answer to True The Vote’s lies, without noting that W.K. Kellogg has given his employer millions in grants. W.K. Kellogg also funds “Bridge the Gulf,” where Mock is an editor.
True The Vote “has plugged itself into an existing infrastructure of influential far right organizations hellbent on criminalizing abortion, banishing gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act – and now, on intimidating would-be voters,” Mock wrote in an August story published at Colorlines and The Nation.
Days later, Mock labeled Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted – a Republican who set rules preventing inaccurately cast provisional ballots from being counted and whose early voting schedule did not include the weekend hours called for by President Obama’s reelection campaign – “the latest bad boy on the voting rights block.”
“True the Votes dark shadow is cast upon the state,” Mock wrote, adding that “the precedents set, and the brazen attitude of Husted about it, is [sic] putting democracy in peril.”
Jon Husted opposes requiring photo ID to vote, scheduled weeks of early in-person voting, was sued by True The Vote for inadequately maintaining voter rolls, and had absentee ballot applications sent to every registered Ohio voter for the November 2012 election. Nonetheless, Husted’s refusal to meet the exact demands of the Obama campaign resulted in an attack from ARC.
In an October story about “the attack on voting rights,” Mock claimed that requiring photo ID to vote is similar to Jim Crow laws, writing, “the hoops many may have to jump through because they lack a car, or a birth certificate, or the multiple forms that need to be filled out do eerily echo literacy tests.”
Mock also maligned former Congressman Artur Davis and former ACORN employee Anita MonCrief – both of whom are black – by asserting they serve to “stir up audiences with racialized keywords that bring out the worst in the far right: ‘ACORN,’ ‘illegal aliens,’ ‘socialist’ and so on” at True The Vote events.
As indicated by its partnership with far-left flagship The Nation, ARC enjoys ties to the national progressive machine beyond its connections to the AFL-CIO and SEIU.
Brentin Mock was a founder of The Lens, a New Orleans news website funded by George Soros, and has worked for the Soros-funded American Prospect as well as the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center.
Additionally, Mock is a past contributor at The Root, “the leading online source of news and commentary from an African-American perspective.” The Root is a project of Henry Louis Gates Jr., a friend of President Obama whose famous 2009 arrest at his Cambridge, Massachusetts home led the president to opine that local police had “acted stupidly.”
ARC’s 2012 “Facing Race” conference cosponsors included Color of Change, Working America, The Nation, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and NAACP, as well as the far-left Advancement Project, United States Student Association, and United for a Fair Economy.
Jamaal Young, a principal at Clinton-connected PR firm Clyde Strategies, highlights W.K. Kellogg as “one of his marquee clients” at his previous employer and lists ARC among the organizations he worked closely with as a result.
At W.K. Kellogg’s inaugural America Healing conference in May 2011, ARC’s executive director appeared on an “Anchor Institutions” panel with executives from the NAACP, open borders group La Raza, and the Advancement Project. The panel was moderated by Nation editor and MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
Featured at W.K. Kellogg’s 2012 America Healing conference were leaders from ARC, La Raza, NAACP, Advancement Project, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a chief partner of “Election Protection,” the coalition of labor unions and progressive activists that pressured advertisers into removing “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY” billboards in October on the grounds that the signage was racist.
Color of Change, SEIU, La Raza, AFT, NAACP, Advancement Project, and Soros-funded Demos are also partners of Election Protection.
When not demonizing True The Vote, ARC focuses on a variety of “social justice” and “economic justice” – which is to say, socialist – causes. Since 2011, ARC has been promoting its “Drop the I-Word” campaign, which charges that use of the word “illegal” to describe illegal aliens is “a racially charged slur.”