A low-profile Google Group used by over 1,000 state and national leftwing leaders and activists has been discovered thanks to Wisconsin’s open records law. A Media Trackers inquiry into the actions of a University of Wisconsin professor turned up records and communications from “Gamechanger Salon,” an online community that provides a forum for leftwing activists and leaders to share tactics, strategies and opinions.
Operating as a closed Google Group, much of what the network does is unavailable for public review. However, a document listing the network’s membership and a policy manual describing the mission and ground rules for the entity were accessible when Media Trackers discovered a non-password protected link in the emails obtained through an open records request of a University of Wisconsin professor.
Media Trackers also attempted to join the group but our request to join was denied.
Gamechanger Salon is comprised of “experienced change makers from different ‘worlds’ of the movement to share stories, honest reflections, interesting articles, and provocative ideas on how we build a stronger, more coordinated, more game-changing movement for the 21st Century” according to the policy manual.
The group has the self-described goal of creating a “more coordinated” movement for liberals across the country. Among those included on the membership list are:
Damon Silver, Policy Director for the AFL-CIO
Benjamin Joffe-Walk, Chief of Staff at Change.org
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK
Elizabeth Rose, Director of Communications at the Economic Policy Institute
Philip Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace until earlier this year
Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL
Raven Brooks, Executive Director of Netroots Nation
Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Deirdre Schifeling, National Director Organizing & Electoral Campaigns for Planned Parenthood
The group’s policy manual directs members to abstain from forwarding emails to recipients outside the group. It does warn, however, that with 1,000-plus members, anyone emailing the group should not say anything “you wouldn’t want to be subpoenaed by a Grand Jury or broadcast on Fox News.”
Media Trackers’ open records request focused on the records of University of Wisconsin Professor, and director of UW’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), Joel Rogers. Rogers, as the records request turned up, is a member of Gamechanger Salon.
Focusing on multiple “research” reports put out by COWS in coordination with Wisconsin’s labor movement, Media Trackers discovered the secretive national liberal network in an email sent to the group by Wisconsin Jobs Now organizer Peter Rickman.
Emails show an exchange between Rickman and others in Gamechanger Salon, including CJ Grimes, National Organizing Director for the SEIU, Ilya Sherman, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Political Action, and Joe Dinkin, Communications Director for the Working Families Party. The subject of the exchange was the success of the Working Families Party, including the success they had in electing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and how others could build off the WFP model.
In addition to the prominent leaders and activists listed above, Gamechanger Salon also includes members of the leftwing “media” such as: Amanda Terkel, Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor at The Huffington Post, Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post and MSNBC contributor, Josh Dorner, Communications Director at ThinkProgress, and Angelo Carusone, Executive Vice President at Media Matters.