Keystone Progress bills itself as an altruistic organization fighting for progressive causes and seeking to build “grassroots democracy through community organizing” in Pennsylvania. In reality, Keystone Progress is a union-funded, highly partisan organization that reportedly falls under the empire of the George Soros-funded Democracy Alliance – a secretive network of billionaires that steers public policy and influences politicians around the country. (George Soros is a billionaire financier and currency speculator well-known for funding left-wing organizations.) Keystone Progress has also been the subject of an ethics investigation in which the state found Keystone in noncompliance with Pennsylvania’s Lobbying Disclosure Law.
The Pennsylvania activist group does not readily disclose its financial backers, but that doesn’t stop it from using that money to hypocritically attack other organizations for failing to name their donors.
A Shadowy Web of Funding
Through a complicated network of deep-pocketed liberals, Keystone Progress is reportedly able to receive substantial funding from undisclosed donors. Beginning at the top of Democratic Party funders’ big money pyramid, large contributions are funneled down to Keystone Progress with the strategic objective of expanding the Democratic Party’s power – hardly the “grassroots democracy” that Keystone Progress alleges.
Here’s how it works: The Democracy Alliance is a highly secretive group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires that serves as the premier financial clearinghouse for liberal groups, funneling hefty contributions to organizations that work to grow the power of the Democratic Party – reportedly including such groups as the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN), Center for American Progress (CAP), and ProgressNow.
Keystone Progress is the Pennsylvania affiliate of ProgressNow – a large national network of progressive organizations with a multi-million dollar revenue stream (thanks, in part, to Democracy Alliance). And to keep the relationship cozy between the Democracy Alliance’s big money and the liberal politics of ProgressNow (and consequently with Keystone Progress), there’s Rob McKay: An heir to the Taco Bell fortune and a former board member of Priorities USA (the Super-PAC dedicated to the reelection of President Obama), Rob McKay serves as chairman of the board of Democracy Alliance and was a founding board member of ProgressNow.
Like the roughly two dozen other state-based ProgressNow affiliates, Keystone Progress receives considerable funding from ProgressNow. In 2011, Keystone Progress received a $60,500 grant from ProgressNow, which was almost one-third of Keystone Progress’ entire annual revenue. In 2009, ProgressNow doled out $40,000 to Keystone Progress.
In addition to large contributions from ProgressNow, Pennsylvania’s Keystone Progress is also heavily funded by labor unions. In 2010 alone, Keystone Progress received $72,925 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and SEIU’s Harrisburg-based Joint Council, which translates to roughly 44% of all contributions given to Keystone Progress that year. And between 2011 and 2012, the organization received $21,000 from two other labor unions.
The union voice sits within the inner circle of Keystone Progress: Mike Healy is an attorney who “concentrates his work representing labor unions,” and serves on the Board of Directors at Keystone Progress.
State Ethics Commissions Fines Keystone Progress for Lobbying Violation
Similar to many other 501(c)4 organizations, Keystone Progress is permitted to lobby state legislatures so long as it files certain lobbying disclosure reports. But according to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, Keystone Progress did not file a particular report in 2011, which “constitute[d] a failure to report as required by the Lobbying Disclosure Law.”
Keystone’s initial failure to report certain activity drew a “Warning Notice” from the State Ethics Commission on December 15, 2011. Keystone Progress did not immediately respond to the warning. In fact, the organization was “114 days delinquent” in its filing. As a result of its violation with state lobbying law, Keystone Progress paid a penalty of $3,990.
Recklessly Accusing PA Governor of Murder
Keystone Progress earned intense criticism from both sides of the aisle after launching a new website www.TomCorbettKilled4PeopleToday.com. The campaign claims that Governor Tom Corbett is killing Pennsylvanians by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act–a charge that the liberal advocacy group fails to back up with any meaningful evidence. In response to the tasteless campaign, Corbett critic John Micek lashed out at Keystone Progress commenting:
You can disagree with Corbett’s polices. If you’ve met him, you may like him or dislike him. But calling him a killer? That’s disgusting. And it has no place in our discourse. You don’t need to be liberal or conservative to accept that premise. You mostly just need to have a brain and a heart.
While the outlandish website might have earned Keystone Progress attention, its claim that Corbett is “killing four Pennsylvanians a day” isn’t exactly true. The group says its figure is based on a Harvard study that says “1,491 people will die in Pennsylvania this year because we are not expanding Medicaid.” But the study actually gives a range of possible deaths from 398-1,491 and is based on a projection of Medicaid benefits over several years.