One of the billionaire founders of Democracy Alliance, a club of major liberal donors who caucus together before contributing millions to progressive think tanks and advocacy groups, has stepped down. The Huffington Post reports that Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance Companies, has backed away from the organization that includes other billionaire liberal founders like George Soros and Tim Gill:
"Lewis, the eccentric and reclusive founder of the insurer Progressive Corp., is one of the biggest donors in Democratic and liberal politics. He invested $25 million in the failed effort to oust President George W. Bush in 2004, making him one of the biggest donors in American political history. He coordinated his giving that year with billionaire George Soros, who gave $50 million.
Both Lewis and Soros have backed the Democracy Alliance since its founding in 2005. Lewis' exit from the network did not come as a major surprise to people familiar with him, as he has gradually disengaged from the group in recent years. But the departure of a billionaire of his status is still a blow to the organization, both in fundraising terms and in perception within the liberal donor community."
POLITICO reported earlier in the month that Lewis was considering leaving the group after it became more partisan and decided to try to raise money for Obama and super PACs devoted to the president and other Democrats:
"The group is shifting away from its original mission of funding liberal think-tanks and policy projects — all in an attempt to mimic the right’s new focus on funding unlimited-money advertising groups, critics say.
But some Democracy Alliance donors — including billionaire founding member Peter Lewis – are considering leaving because they don’t like the shift toward partisan electoral politics."
"And a source close to Lewis, who gave $200,000 in June to a super PAC that has been promoted by Democracy Alliance, said the insurance magnate probably won’t give any more cash to super PACs and is not pleased with the DA’s focus on them.
'Peter is right now reconsidering whether he is going to continue being a partner in the Democracy Alliance,' said the source, stressing that Lewis “reconsiders his involvement with the DA every year.' Lewis skipped the conference at which Biden spoke, as well as the Obama fundraiser hosted by McKay and other DA members, which the source said Lewis considered a step away from their original mission.'
The source explained 'Peter’s focus since 2004 has been on scaling up the progressive infrastructure, as opposed to election or political candidates.'"
Democracy Alliance "is a membership organization and has the same modest turnover as any membership organization. Some old partners leave, new ones are recruited," a person close to the Democracy Alliance told The Huffington Post in response to Lewis' departure. In addition to his opposition to George W. Bush, the 78-year-old Lewis has been a major financial supporter of the ACLU and Marijuana Policy Project.