Former Arizona Democratic party chair Andrei Cherny has a wide lead in fundraising for the primary for Arizona's new, Tempe-based 9th Congressional district, according to the FEC. He's raised $431,078 in his sole quarter so far. It's hardly surprising for a former party chair to be a good fundraiser, but Cherny is no ordinary chair--he's a Harvard-educated former Clinton/Gore speechwriter who's been pegged as a "rising star" for essentially his entire adult life. He's raised the vast majority--about 3/4--of his current haul from the 139 or so donors who have each given at least $1,000--a list which includes many names that will be familiar to a political junkie, such as Mark Penn, Al From, Al Checchi, a few groups of Henry Waxman's, Chris Kelly, and a few Soroses. I think this list is worth studying, both for what it says about Cherny, and perhaps for the description it gives of a few segments of the national Democratic party elite.
Cherny: This 2002 Slate profile, by David Plotz, of "Clintonista candidates" includes a nice summary about Cherny, then campaigning for a California Assembly seat:
But if you want to find the most Clintonian of the Clintonista candidates, you must drop a few levels in status and a generation in age. Andrei Cherny, a former Gore speechwriter, is running for state Assembly in California's San Fernando Valley. Here we see Clintonism as Clinton practiced it. Cherny is only 26 years old, demonstrating that same alarming tyro ambition that Clinton showed. Cherny shares Clinton's mania for policy and politics. He has already written a best-selling policy book, The Next Deal. He has the kind of campaign organization and endorsement list that would make a Senate candidate envious. His public statements have achieved that spinny, euphemistic glossiness it takes most politicians generations to master. Cherny can triangulate like the Champ, too, proposing stricter rules about probation, supporting charter schools, and—this is a hard one—favoring less traffic.Of course, then Cherny lost the Democratic primary, but I wanted to include some sense of the kind of national press Cherny has gotten over the years.
Before we analyze who donated to Cherny, let's look at a few donations Cherny has made himself, at the state level. He's given to Trey Greyson, Bill Halter, Terry McAuliffe, Jim Davis, Sam Arora, Michael Singer, Chris Gabrieli, and Jefferson Smith, as well as to a host of California and Arizona candidates, and to one other candidate who I'll get to below.
I spotlight these candidates largely because they're consistent with the story I'm telling below (and because I thought it was notable that he'd donate to Greyson, a Republican). Many of them share some or all of the following traits: They are relatively young, they were educated at Harvard or similar schools, they have strong connections to the Clinton/Gore administrations, and they have been considered "rising stars". For example, see Singer's biography here.
Cherny himself shares all of these traits (see his Huffington Post biography) and I imagine he likely knows many of these people personally.
(Note: While I know Arora is extremely unpopular among many bloggers for his flip-flop on gay marriage, Cherny gave to him back in 2010.)
Fundraising Summary: According to Cherny's campaign, he "outraised the other candidates in Arizona and out of state". Don't take this to suggest that Cherny isn't raising a great deal of his money out of state.
As I said, Cherny has gotten donations from about 139 individuals and groups who each gave at least $1,000 (I say "about" because I'm not entirely sure if two of them are the same donor double-counted or not). 80 of these donors gave from out of state (although some have ties to Arizona), and they gave a total of $194,250. 59 gave from Arizona, and they gave $127,250. (Note: I've tried to subtract "in-kind donations" that are also listed as disbursements.)
Together, that comes to about $321,500, which means that Cherny's raised 74.6% of his total fundraising from these 139 large donors. And a majority of this large-donor money--and rather nearly a majority of Cherny's overall fundraising--comes from large out-of-state donors. Accordingly, it's those donors that I'll be focusing on in this diary. Many of them seem to fit into a few networks, and I'll also mention a few of the outliers. I'm still looking into Cherny's Arizona donors, and if I find anything notable, I'll write a follow-up diary.
However, here's one note: Even within Arizona, Cherny's strength isn't necessarily within the new 9th district. The new AZ-09 only has population in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Scottsdale. Cherny has only 29 large donors from those cities, and he's raised only $59,050 from them--and since AZ-09 splits every one of those cities other than Tempe, Cherny's large-donor haul from within the borders of AZ-09 might be even less than that. By comparison, he raised $41,200 from his big Tucson donors alone--he likely wasn't hurt by the fact that his wife is from Tucson, while her father was a Pima Superior Court Judge.
Networks: As I've said, many of Cherny's large out-of-state donors seem to fit into a few intersecting networks. These aren't meant to be hard-and-fast categories, and, of course, I can't prove why anyone donated to Cherny. Many of these people are large-scale, prolific Democratic donors. Nevertheless, I did notice patterns and connections between some of these donors, or between some of these donors and Cherny, and I don't think all of these patterns are entirely coincidental, or entirely because any Democratic candidates large donors would fit into these categories (although at least few probably would--let's be honest). While I might be trying to highlight the most interesting connections, I don't mean to imply that these are all suspicious and nefarious groups or anything. Hell, I'm a partly-Jewish Ivy Leaguer myself.
1. The Cherny/Yarbro network: This is likely Cherny's most personal network. There's a candidate Cherny contributed to that I didn't mention above: a young Nashville attorney named Jeff Yarbro . Yarbro was Harvard '99, UVA Law School '04, and describes himself as "a veteran of Al Gore's presidential campaign and Harold Ford, Jr.'s campaign for U.S. Senate". He ran against a longtime incumbent in a Democratic State Senate primary in 2010, ultimately losing by an incredibly narrow margin--13 votes in the initial count!
Andrei Cherny also had an unsuccessful run for the state legislature early in his career. Here is how the "L.A. Weekly" described his candidacy in their endorsement of his opponent, Lloyd Levine:
Andrei Cherny is a wunderkind-and-a-half. While still a Harvard undergrad in 1996, he became a writer for the Clinton re-election campaign, and ended up contributing some lines to Clinton’s second inaugural address. Ten days after graduating, he was an official speechwriter for Vice President Gore, and then he went on to edit Blueprint, the magazine of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Two years ago, he authored The Next Deal, in which he ruminated on big ideas, then became a protégé of term-limited Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who tapped him to run to succeed him in this Van Nuys–Sherman Oaks district.(I have no doubt that might be a biased description, but keep in mind the "school choice" emphasis.)
Unfortunately, while the 26-year-old Cherny is an affable and brilliant exponent of big ideas, they’re not invariably good ideas. His is a litany of New Democrat nostrums — school choice (verging on vouchers), Social Security partial privatization, and the kind of deregulatory nonsense that led straight to the Enron debacle.
Their similarities aren't merely coincidental. Cherny is friends with Yarbro, by his own account. Moreover, Yarbro gave $2,500 to Cherny's Congressional campaign. And the Chernys gave $2,000 to Yarbro's campaign for the State Senate.
They have other common donors as well. The following all gave to Yarbro's campaign and also gave at least $1,000 to Cherny's congressional campaign:
John Turner of Dallas gave $5,000 to Cherny. Turner is a lawyer who was Harvard '97, like Cherny, and I think he's also the son of former Congressman Jim Turner. Turner's wife, Jenia Iontcheva Turner, was also a big Cherny donor, contributing $2,500, as was Jim Turner's still-extant Campaign Committee, which gave $4,000 . John Turner and Jim Turner's State Senate campaign apparently both gave to Cherny's Assembly campaign as well.
Joseph Sanberg of (apparently then) New York (now of Los Angeles), and now working for "Smithwood Adviserrs", gave $5,000 to Cherny. Sanberg seems to have been Harvard '01, and he also gave $100,000 for the Democratic National Convention, as well as giving to Cherny's Assembly campaign.
Marissa Shorenstein of New York gave $2,500 to Cherny. Shorenstein went to Harvard and is the product of a New York political dynasty, who was Press Secretary for David Paterson before resigning. She is now President of AT&T New York, and, yes, she gave to Cherny's Assembly campaign.
Douglas Pravda of New York, who apparently works in the "U.S. Attorney's office", gave $2,500 to Cherny. Pravda was also Harvard '97. Sarah Scrogin, Douglas Pravda's wife and a school principal, is also on the list, having given $1,500. Of course, Pravda gave to Cherny's Assembly campaign.
Marc Stad of San Francisco/Las Vegas, and now of "Pioneer Global Investors", gave $2,500 to Cherny. Marc Stad was Harvard '01, and was "president of the Harvard College Democrats (HCD)", as well as president of the "College Democrats of Massachusetts...succeed[ing] Joseph N. Sanberg '01" as it happens. Elisa Stad, of IGSD, also gave $2,500. And Marc Stad was yet another donor to Cherny's Assembly campaign.
In Cherny's first book, he specifically thanks "Anne Aaron, Kenny Baer, John Gomperts, Chris Kelly, Daniel Pink, Robin Swanson, and Jeffrey Yarbro". (He also thanks John Turner, who apparently read the manuscript.)
Anne Aaron gave to Yarbro, and gave to Cherny's treasurer campaign, although she hasn't given to his Congressional campaign (yet, I assume). Kenneth Baer gave a mere(?) $500 to Cherny's congressional campaign, so he's not on my list, but he also co-founded the journal "Democracy" with Cherny.
Chris Kelly, who you might remember from his unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for California Attorney General, is a big Cherny for Congress donor, giving $2,500. You might not know the extent to which that Kelly fits into the above pattern. He's not merely a rich guy who ran for a big office as his first act in politics. According to Wikipedia:
After graduating from Georgetown, Kelly worked on Governor Bill Clinton's campaign. Kelly began working as a policy advisor for the United States Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education during the Clinton administration. He focused on researching education and issues surrounding the formation of AmeriCorps.(This seems to have been before Kelly graduated from Harvard Law School in 1997--placing him at Harvard while Cherny was there--and note the AmeriCorps connection.)
While this isn't entirely relevant to this diary: Did you know that the 2010 Attorney General campaign was Kelly's third unsuccessful attempt at public office? He ran for the Palo Alto City Council in 2001 and also ran for State Assembly in 2004 (like Cherny), getting far enough to set up a campaign committee, although he didn't make it to the primary. Kelly is also on the board of the "Junior Statesman Alliance", with the aforementioned Joseph Sanberg.
Anyway, Andrei gave to Chris Kelly's 2010 A.G. campaign, and Kelly gave to Cherny's Assembly campaign, as well as to Cherny's State Treasurer campaign. Kelly's wife, Jennifer Carrico, also gave $2,500 to Cherny's Congressional campaign.
The picture all this gives me is of a small network of extremely well-connected, relatively young graduates who mostly went to Harvard within a few years of each other and have since kept active in the intersecting worlds of law, finance, media, and Democratic politics--and some of them have funded each others' campaigns. (All of which have been unsuccessful!) But this small group of people (who almost certainly all know each other, right?) account for $35,500 of Cherny's fundraising to date--a sizable sum which bolsters the probability that this is Cherny's personal network.
2. The Finance/KIPP/TFA/City Year network: Recall that I noted mentions of school choice and AmeriCorps in Cherny and Kelly's careers. As we all know, charter schools have been both a popular cause and a divisive controversy within the Democratic Party, with "reform advocates" and "union advocates" often attacking each other. One of the most famous charter school organizations is KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), which was founded by alumni of Teach For America--another lightning rod. Meanwhile, AmeriCorps was modeled after the popular service advocacy nonprofit City Year.
Apparently, these organizations share a number of ties to each other and to a couple of financial companies--and some of the people who tie them together are also big Cherny donors. Some of these donors are simply big Democratic donors, but consider the Wendts. Cherny has gotten $5,000 from Greg Wendt and $5,000 from Lisa Wendt, both of San Francisco, and more specifically of the "Capital Research and Management Company" (Greg, at least--Lisa says she's retired.)
Both Greg and Lisa are bipartisan donors, although Greg Wendt has donated to Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty. While they have given to a few Democrats, including some liberals and liberal groups, I still think their donations to Cherny are notable.
What are their other causes? Greg Wendt is also on the board of Teach for America, and was the "founding chair" of KIPP: St. Louis. As it happens, Cherny also got $2,500 from Joshua Donfeld of Los Angeles and "Canyon Capital", who is also on the board of KIPP: Los Angeles--and Donfeld is even more of a Republican, having given to McCain (in the primary, and he also made a refunded general election contribution) as well as to Josh Mandel(!). Oh, and he gave to the DNC. I don't understand it either, but I am amused by the fact that Donfeld gave from Beverly Hills to give to McCain and from WeHo to give to the DNC. (He gave to Mandel from both--unless there are multiple Josh Donfelds?)
Cherny also got $2,500 from Mark Nunnelly, of (uh) "Bain Capital"--and while Nunnelly is a big Democratic donor, who has been to White House events under Obama, he is also on the board of the national KIPP organization.
Josh Bekenstein, also of Bain, is on the board of a group called Be The Change, with Alan Khazei, the founder of City Year, and with Richard Barth, the President of KIPP--and Josh gave $2,500 to Cherny, with Sam Bekenstein also giving $2,500. As it happens, Bekenstein is also on the City Year board, with Wendy Kopp of Teach for America. Moreover, according to Bain itself, "Bain is a founding sponsor of City Year [...] The leadership team there has said, "We have never made a strategic move without having a team from Bain to guide us."
In fact, according to Fortune, "Mark Nunnelley is credited with helping to first form the relationship [between Bain and City Year]". And, as this blog points out (critically), "Nunnelley also directs New Profit, Inc, a group of 'social entrepreneurs' dominated by Bain execs like Josh Blankenstein and Paul Edgerley." Also on the board of New Profit is Greg Avis, of Summit Partners--who gave $5,000 to Cherny. That might seem a little tangential, but the Fortune article quotes City Year founder Alan Khazei that "the first VC to actually pick up was Steve Woodsum of Summit Partners– he now serves as City Year's chairman". (That's actually outdated, but he's still on the board--see the above link.)
One more: Glenn Gritzner, of "Mercury Public Affairs", is "on the Board of City Year Los Angeles", and he gave a (relatively meager) $1,000 to Cherny.
Many of us have read about how charter school organizations are something of a popular cause among some people in the financial industry. I don't think it's a stretch to hypothesize that Cherny is also popular among some network of TFA/KIPP/City Year people, many of whom seem to work in the financial industry. They account for at least $26,000 of his fundraising to date. Indeed, Cherny mentioned both KIPP and City Year in his book, at least in passing.
3. Soroses: Sigh. I know that such lists are hallmarks of insane conspiracy theories. But Cherny literally has multiple donations from Soroes! Jeff Soros gave $5,000, Catharine Soros gave $5,000, and Daisy Soros gave $5,000.
Warren Ilchman, who was "Program Director of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans" (now he says he's retired), gave $1,000. Perhaps this is unsurprising, since Cherny was himself a recipient of that fellowship. Anyway, Ilchman and the Soroses account for $16,000 of Cherny's fundraising to date.
4. Clinton/Gore Administration and Campaign: Several of Cherny's other large out-of-state donors were active in the Clinton administration and campaigns--as, of course, was Cherny himself. For example, Chris Lehane, who gave $2,000, also worked with Cherny on Kerry's campaign, and was also Gore's press secretary in 2000.
Gregory C. Simon, who gave $1,000, was "Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Al Gore".
Donald Baer gave $2,500 and was "a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. As Assistant to the President, White House Director of Strategic Planning and Communications and, before, as Director of Speechwriting and Research/Chief Speechwriter, Don was widely recognized for his key role in the Clinton Presidency, including the historic 1996 re-election."
David Garrison, another Nashville lawyer, gave $2,500, and was "Assistant Policy Coordinator for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign".
John Emerson, now of Capital Group Companies, was first "Deputy Assistant to President Clinton in the White House", and "direct[ed] the California 1992 Clinton/Gore campaign". Now, of course, he's a top Obama appointee (first link) and bundler, who has the extremely strenuous job of "Southern California Co-chair of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign." He gave $1,000. And yes, he gave to Cherny's Assembly campaign.
The above donations from old Clinton/Gore people account for $19,500 of Cherny's fundraising to date.
5. The DLC: Al From, of course, was head of the DLC, and not the most popular person in the netroots, I'm aware. Cherny, as Michael Barone put it, "used to work for Al From's Democratic Leadership Council or one of its offshoots", and the L.A. Weekly referred to Cherny in another article as a "Democratic Leadership Council wunderkind". From gave $1,000.
I wondered why S. Robert Levine--Mary Tyler Moore's husband!--gave $2,000 to Cherny, especially when he also gave a lot to John McCain's Presidential campaign (in the primary). The answer probably has a lot to do with the fact that Levine was "Chairman of the Health Priorities Project of the Progressive Policy Institute (the policy think tank of the centrist DLC)", and wrote for the DLC's Blueprint magazine, right around when Cherny was writing for it as well. Levine also gave to Cherny's campaign for the State Assembly and gave to Cherny's campaign for State Treasurer.
Michael Steinhardt is "a past chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council". Although Wikipedia shortly continues:
According to Newsmeat.com, a tracker of publicly-available campaign contributions, in the 2000 New York senatorial primary, he donated $1,000 (then the maximum allowable under law) to Republican Rudy Giuliani. When Mayor Giuliani dropped out of the race, Steinhardt contributed an equal amount to Giuliani's successor, Rick Lazio. Steinhardt also gave $1,000 to Lazio in the general election.Anyway, Steinhardt gave another $1,000.
Perhaps this isn't the best place to put this, but Al Checchi, famous for his self-funded campaign for California Governor, also gave big to Cherny for Congress--and was also "involved with the Democratic Leadership Council to [some] degree" (according to the DLC, and along with Checchi's then-rivals for the gubernatorial nomination). He gave $2,500. And Checchi, you might already have guessed, also gave to Cherny's Assembly and Treasurer campaigns.
These DLC-related figures account for another $6,500 of Cherny's fundraising to date.
6. The New Leader's Council/Truman National Security Project: I'm not sure this even counts as a separate network, or if it's more of a hub between several of the above networks, or if it's just part of the Democratic party mainstream. The New Leader's Council is...hell, I don't know, these people. They include Robert Abernethy of "Metropolitan Investments", who gave $2,500, and Louis Valerio of "Progressive Financial Services", who gave $1,500--as well as the aforementioned Chris Kelly, and Mark Riddle, "very active in the Democratic Leadership Council".
Abernethy is also on the Board of Advisors of the "Truman National Security Project" with the aforementioned Greg Craig, and Michael Moschella is involved with both. Andrei Cherny was a Senior Fellow at the Truman Project. Oh, and TFA is an "allied organization" of the New Leader's Council. This is, however, a very mainstream Democratic organization, so it might not be saying very much, but I had no idea how to connect Abernethy or Valerio to Cherny or to anyone else without it. Anyway, it's another $4,000 of Cherny's fundraising accounted for.
7. Jewish Activists: Ugh, this is dicey--I don't mean, here, to collect donors who happen to be Jewish, but rather donors whose other (non-political) donations and activism seems to be prominently, although not necessarily exclusively, oriented towards Jewish or Israeli causes. It's just one more pattern I've noticed.
For example, Howard Welinsky , who gave $2,500, is, according to this profile, "[a]mong [CA] state politicos, [...] inseparable from two causes: UCLA and Israel." He endorsed Mayor Villaraigosa for the "Jewish Journal", and was honored by "Democrats for Israel-Los Angeles". He also gave to (yes) Cherny's Assembly and Treasurer campaigns.
Ira Riklis, among other donations, gave to "the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty's new kosher Food Rescue program", as well as to "the Hagalil Elementary School through the Tel Aviv-Yafo Foundation"--and he's also given $2,500 to Cherny's campaign for Congress, as well as donating to Cherny's campaign for Treasurer. Michael Steanhardt, also mentioned above? Well, it says right in the first line of his Wiki that he "is an American investor and philanthropist active in Jewish causes". Josh Donfeld, mentioned above as well? His KIPP Los Angeles board biography says "[h]e has engaged in community service efforts through his involvement with Hope for Heroism, an organization that supports injured Israeli veterans, as the head of development for Los Angeles" and that "[h]e is also the founder of the Los Angeles Young Professional’s chapter of the American Friends of Migdal Ohr, one of the fundraising arms for Israel’s largest orphanage serving 6,500 neglected, abused or severely underprivileged children."
Cherny is himself Jewish, and there would be nothing particularly notable about getting support from Jewish activists and fundraisers (no more than Mitt Romney getting support from donors to Mormon causes, or Hillary Clinton getting support from donors to feminist causes, or so on) but I thought I may as well mention it. (Apparently I can't write a fundraising diary without worrying that I'm offending some religious group or other.)
Anyway, we've accounted for another $5,000 of Cherny's fundraising.
That's $112,500 in Cherny's fundraising to date that we've accounted for--a considerable portion of his overall fundraising. There are a few notable donations or donation clusters that I can't fit into any of the above categories.
Miscellany: For some reason, "Men's Warehouse" appears to like Cherny. I guarantee it! (Sorry.) Richard E. Goldman, a longtime Men's Warehouse affiliate, gave $5,000, and his wife Traci Goldman also gave $5,000, while Men's Warehouse Founder George Zimmer gave $2,500.
Henry Waxman gave to Cherny via two different committees: $2,000 via Waxman's Campaign Committee, and $5,000 via the Waxman-affiliated LA PAC.
On a similar "Los Angeles power broker" front, William Delvac was the AMPAS' lobbyist and also was "land-use attorney and spokesman" for L.A. Live--and aside from giving $5,000 to Cherny's Congressional campaign, he was also a donor to Cherny's Assembly and Treasurer campaigns, with Delvac's wife (presumably) also contributing to the latter.
Daniel Lewis and Margaret Lewis--same address--were both big donors, with Daniel giving $2,500 and with Margaret giving $2,500. I can't find much out about them beyond that Daniel Lewis works for Orange Capital and donated to Matt Dohney's NY-23 Republican primary campaign.
Similarly, Robert Bluestein of Birmingham, Michigan gave $1,000 and Jeff Bluestien of New York gave $1,000. They seem to mostly give to Republicans, although Robert Bluestein has given to a couple of Democrats (and a few more at the state level, and to the Michigan Democratic party, although most of his donations are still to Republicans). Notably, they both have worked at Goldman, Sachs. Other than that, I have no idea how to account for their donations--they don't mention any connections to the DLC, to organizations like KIPP, or even to Jewish causes. Hell, they didn't even go to Harvard!
Alejandro Cabrera, also listing his employment as Burson-Martsteller (like Baer and Penn), gave $2,500.
Rick Taylor was "Cherny's campaign strategist" in the Assembly primary (and click through if you want to see how ugly that primary might have been!), and he gave $1,000.
Kathy Kemper of the "Institute for Education" gave $1,000. I'm including her mostly because she's apparently a former tennis coach to the D.C. stars who actually says, in her bio, that she's been "called Washington’s “Networker in Chief” by US News and World Report".
Oh, and the confusing donations: There's a $3,000 donation from Citrin Cooperman & Co., with Benjamin Lambert listed in the address, on 03/08/2012. Also on that date, Lambert gave $500, which was then returned/"reattributed", and also gave $3,000 that wasn't returned/reattributed--both listed as "Partner Share - Citrin Cooperman & Co". I think Cherny's campaign counted it twice--i.e., as $6,000--so I did too, but it might be an honest mistake.
Conclusion: Let me be honest about two things: I'm well aware that many of the above names, people, and causes are controversial or unpopular among national liberal internet activists, and I am actually fairly ignorant of the policy details and history there.
I can't really be sure what Cherny's donors say about his campaign for Congress, his ideology, or his future voting record, and I haven't read his books or his articles. I wouldn't assume that Cherny holds any particular positions on any particular issues unless he's said so himself in his writings or on the campaign trail, and I don't know how many of the above donors agree with each other or even share the same basic worldview. Still, I think fundraising analysis is important because, if nothing else, it can help illustrate a candidate's connections and milieu.
My other fundraising analysis diaries have looked at how much Tulsi Gabbard, in HI-02, has relied on a network largely separate from the Democratic party network. Cherny, on the other hand, has apparently relied very much on major Democratic figures and large Democratic donors, and perhaps the above details aren't very surprising to those familiar with his career, but I thought it was worth exploring in detail--if for no other reason than that so many familiar names made appearances. If you're more familiar than I am with Clinton administration staffers, this diary must have been a regular "I Love the 90's".