About It Starts Today
For decades, the DNC and other organizations have focused on the handful of swing districts they thought were “winnable.”
This is important, but it’s not enough — because of this strategy, the Democratic candidate in hundreds of districts is just a name on a ballot, abandoned and unable to spread a message about common-sense policies to the people who need to hear about them most. Activists in those districts are left without a cause to rally around, and voters are left without a real choice.
We can change that.
Jonathan Zucker Founder
Jonathan Zucker was the first COO and second CEO of ActBlue. Prior to that, he served the DNC as National Director of Operations for Finance during the 2003-2004 presidential cycle. More recently, he has founded or advised several political tech start-ups, including Democracy Engine, ruck.us, and Crowdpac. LinkedIn Profile
Michele Hornish Executive Director
Michele Hornish is a St. Louis resident and the founder of the political action site Small Deeds Done. A lawyer by training, Michele clerked for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and was the Associate General Counsel for the Illinois State Treasurer. She is also a certified mediator and mediation trainer for the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution. LinkedIn Profile
WHAT IS IT STARTS TODAY?
It Starts Today is our way of crowdsourcing support for Democratic congressional candidates. We recognized that the Resistance has become an insurmountable force by helping people take regular, small steps – the effects of which are amplified because of the vast numbers of people taking them. We do that same thing – except with monthly donations that will be split among every single Democratic nominee for House or Senate. So, really we’re just taking what’s already worked for the movement to oppose the Trump/Ryan/McConnell agenda and applying it to fundraising for the Democratic candidates.
If you want to read more about our story and how we came up with the idea, check out our article in Daily Kos!
On the technical side, It Starts Today is a political committee, incorporated as a nonprofit in Delaware and registered with the Federal Election Commission as a non-connected PAC. All contributions to It Starts Today and all of our expenditures are reported to the FEC quarterly and publicly disclosed on their website
WHY INCREMENTS OF $5.35?
Great question! There are 435 U.S. House seats and 100 U.S. Senate seats for a total of 535. So your $5.35 donation will give one penny to each Democratic House and Senate candidate (though because their elections are every 6 years instead of every 2, Senate nominees will, on average, receive 3 times as much as House nominees). Of course, you can donate more. But we do require recurring donations in increments of $5.35 to make the math work.
ARE YOU WORKING AT THE STATE LEVEL?
Glad you asked! We firmly believe that state legislatures are as, if not more, important than the US Congress. However, while there is only one Congress, there are 50 state legislatures with 50 different sets of laws. We’ve solved the legal issues, but deploying 50 state platforms is going to take us time. We’ve gotten started, however, and you can find our first State Legislative effort—funding every state legislative seat in Missouri–right here
HOW DOES IT STARTS TODAY WORK?
In a nutshell: we make it easy for you to make direct donations to each one of the 535 Democratic nominees for Congress (all 435 Congressional districts up every 2 years and all 100 Senate seats up every 6 years). We take your donation, divide it into 535 parts and hold onto the money until each nominee is selected by a party primary in their state. Then we send them the money.
In more legalistic terms (for the lawyers and campaign finance geeks out there): the funds you donate via this website are contributions to It Starts Today that are then designated (“earmarked” in campaign finance regulation-speak) for specific purposes. The core contributions are earmarked for each of the 535 Democratic nominees for each House district or Senate seat in their next general election in accordance with FEC Advisory Opinion 1982-23.
Donations to support and market this website are contributions to It Starts Today, a nonprofit federal PAC.
WHEN WILL THE NOMINEES GET MY MONEY?
It Starts Today will hold onto your donations for each nominee until their primary election. We then have 10 days to send your money (along with everyone else’s) to the newly nominated Democrat. After that first big lump sum, there are weekly distributions until the election. And then it all starts over for the next election cycle.
All donations—along with all disbursements—are reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Reporting is monthly and the FEC makes all reports available online, so you can always check on your donations and our distributions.
WHAT ABOUT FEES?
First off, 100% of your donations will go to the candidates – so if you’re donating $5.35, that’s exactly what you’re donating. But, just like everyone else (like ActBlue, Kickstarter and PayPal), we have to account for processing fees. Your donation is made to Democracy Engine, LLC, which then follows your instructions on where to distribute your donation. Jonathan Zucker (our founder) also founded Democracy Engine. But while that means he does have a financial interest in the success of this effort, the goal is saving the world. So Democracy Engine charges you a lower percentage than other sites you might know of, like ActBlue.
Democracy Engine collects a 3.75% + $0.20 processing fee on top of your contribution intended for Democratic nominees. This sum covers both the processing fees—credit card, debit card, ACH, etc.—and costs of distribution to candidates. It also provides Democracy Engine with a small profit, which the FEC actually required in Advisory Opinion 2011-06. And just to compare: ActBlue collects 3.95% and Kickstarter keeps 5% on top of the processing fees.
Honestly, Democracy Engine charges you low rates and has the services we need. So we’re happy to work with them in our effort to crowdsource democracy, cut Trump off at the knees, and make the country – and world – a better place.
All “tips” to It Starts Today itself go to the nonprofit PAC and will be spent building this concept into a movement.
WHEN WILL MY SUBSCRIPTION END?
Your subscription will be charged monthly until until you tell us to stop. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time if you want to end it. We’re very approachable.
ARE YOU PART OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?
Nope. It Starts Today is independent. While we support the efforts of the collection of national, state, and local organizations that make up the Democratic Party, we do not coordinate with them, and we have only one goal: break radical Republican control over Congress.
WHAT HAPPENS IN “BLANKET” PRIMARY STATES?
States like California and Washington have what are known as “Blanket” or “open” primaries in which candidates from all parties run together on one ballot. The candidates that receive the top two number of votes then run against each other in the general election. Louisiana does not actually have party primaries and all candidates are on the general election ballot (with a possible run-off held if no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast).
In situations in which more than one Democrat is on the general election ballot (i.e. the “Democratic Nominee”), we have concluded that, due to technical limitations and federal regulations regarding compliance and disclosure, that the only policy we can follow is to redesignate donations as a contribution to It Starts Today. The other alternatives available to us under campaign finance law, donating the money to the state party or to one of the national party committees (DCCC, DSCC, DNC), are unlikely to focus that money into the specific district or state for which it was raised. If you have a better solution, please drop us a line and let us know.
If you have a question you don’t see answered here, drop us a note at email@example.com. We’re very approachable, really.