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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Pacronym


Political Leanings: Democratic

2018 Total Spending: $2.3 million

Pacronym is a super PAC affiliated with Acronym, a politically active 501(c)4 social welfare organization. Acronym says it is focused on “building power and digital infrastructure for the progressive movement.” 

Tara McGowan, a Democratic digital strategist, founded Acronym in 2017. David Plouffe, campaign manager of Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential bid, joined Acronym’s board in 2019 and helps with fundraising. 

Although it is registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt nonprofit, Acronym invests in several for-profit ventures, including Lockwood Strategy (a digital consulting firm) and Courier Newsroom (a digital media company). It’s currently divesting from Shadow Inc., which designed the vote tabulation app that delayed the results of the 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucuses. 

Late last year, McGowan said that Acronym and Pacronym plan to spend a combined $75 million on digital advertising in key swing states for the 2020 election. At the time, she said they had raised nearly 40% of that amount.

As a super PAC, Pacronym must disclose the sources of its funding to the Federal Election Commission. It has received $11.5 million in donations, as of May 31, according to its most recent quarterly report. Its top five donors in the 2020 election cycle — who all gave $1 million or more — are Seth Klarman, a hedge fund manager; Kenneth Duda, co-founder of the tech company Arista; Donald Sussman, a hedge fund manager; Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist; and philanthropist Geoffrey Gund. Other notable donors are filmmaker Steven Spielberg, actress Kate Capshaw, and Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

As of July 7, the super PAC has spent $11.3 million on independent expenditures, all against President Donald Trump or in support of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Its anti-Trump campaign, called “Four is Enough,” will “combat Trump’s campaign directly and relentlessly online,” Pacronym’s website said.

In the 2018 election cycle, Pacronym spent about $2.3 million, mostly on web ads and contributions to other committees. Its biggest donor in 2018 was the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which gave the super PAC $2 million.

Acronym is known as a “dark money” group because its tax status means it is not required to disclose the names of its donors to the IRS.

It’s also unclear how much Acronym has raised and spent in the 2020 cycle, because its most recent IRS 990 Form, filed in March, only covers the contributions and grants it received ($9.45 million), and its expenses ($7.26 million), from May 2018 to April 2019. These totals are significantly greater than the roughly $1.3 million Acronym reported receiving and spending in the previous 12 months.