name = VoteVets.org
motto = Support the troops, send them to Congress!
formation = 2006
type = (PAC) and non-profit
membership = 95,000
website = [http://www.votevets.org www.VoteVets.org]
VoteVets.org has both a political action committee (PAC) and non-profit
501(c)(4). It was co-founded in 2006 by Jon Soltzand Jeremy Broussard. Initially composed of United States Iraqand Afghanistanwar veterans, the organization views defense policy as an American priority. The stated goal of the PAC is to put in Congress Afghanistan or Iraq war veterans who are critical of the execution of the war in Iraq. According to VoteVets.org, the goal of the 501(c)(4) is to educate the American public on the war and military issues, and hold politicians accountable. In February 2007, " The Washington Post" reported that VoteVets.org had grown to 20,000 members, including 1,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.citenews | first=Lyndsey | last=Layton | coauthors=Jonathan Weisman | title=Veterans Group Speaks Out on War |date=February 8, 2007 | publisher=The Washington Post | url= | work= | pages= | accessdate = Accessed via Lexis Nexis.] According to the group's press release in the summer of 2008, the membership of the organization has grown to 95,000. [http://www.votevets.org/news?id=0138, May 20, 2008]
VoteVets.org PAC in the 2006 Elections
During the United States 2006 election cycle, VoteVets.org PAC spent between $1.2 and $2 million (sources differ) trying to influence the outcomes of various congressional races.citenews | first= Marie | last= Horrigan | coauthors= | title= New Mexico Rep. Wilson’s Foes Seek to Keep Her on Defensive Over Iraq |date= May 11, 2007 | publisher= The New York Times | url=http://www.nytimes.com/cq/2007/05/11/cq_2709.html | work= | pages= | accessdate = 2007-05-12 ] citenews | first=Geoffrey | last=Gray | coauthors= | title=Swift-Boat Revenge; How one New Yorker beat Republicans at the attack-ad game. |date=November 20, 2006 | publisher=New York Magazine | url= | work= | pages= | accessdate = Accessed via
Lexis Nexis.] Senators targeted by the VoteVets' campaign for their support of the Iraq Warinclude: George Allen, Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, and Jim Talent. For each congressional campaign, they released a television advertisement criticizing the (now former) senators for their vote against body armorfor US troops in 2003. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8zQA1gYwpk YouTube] Vote Vets PAC television advertisement against George Allen.] VoteVets claim was based, in part, on the Republican senators' vote against an amendment offeredcitenews | first= | last=(No Author) | coauthors= | title=HOW THEY VOTED |date=April 6, 2003 | publisher=The San Diego Union-Tribune, States News Service | url= | work= | pages= | accessdate = Accessed via Lexis Nexis.] by Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, in 2003, to boost National Guard and Reserves equipment funding by $1 billion.citenews | first=Bob | last=Lewis | coauthors= | title=Veterans' group to air ad attacking Allen |date=September 13, 2006 | publisher=The Associated Press State & Local Wire | url= | work= | pages= | accessdate = Accessed via Lexis Nexis.] The group FactCheck.org(a self-described non-partisan project of the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania) stated that the ad was misleading because the 2003 Senate budget amendment (on which the criticism was based) made no specific reference to "body armor".citenews | first=Gary | last=Rotstein | coauthors= | title=Vets Group's Attack Ads Targeted GOP |date=November 20, 2006 | publisher=Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) | url= | work= | pages= | accessdate = Accessed via Lexis Nexis.] However, a self-described progressive watchdog group, Media Matters for America, repeatedly pointed out what it said were "misleading" statements about the ads by FactCheck.org.cite web | first=| last=| coauthors= | title="AP advanced FactCheck.org's misleading criticism of Vote Vets ad targeting Allen" |date=September 22, 2006 | publisher=Media Matters for America | url=http://mediamatters.org/items/200609220022 | work= | pages= | accessdate= ] cite web | first=| last=| coauthors= | title="In defense of Allen, Cal Thomas cited FactCheck.org's already-debunked criticism of Vote Vets ad" |date=September 28, 2006 | publisher=Media Matters for America | url=http://mediamatters.org/items/200609280002 | work= | pages= | accessdate= ] cite web | first=| last=| coauthors= | title="Media Still Using Debunked FactCheck.org Analysis to Discredit VoteVets Ad in Senate Contests" |date=September 28, 2006 | publisher=Media Matters for America | url=http://mediamatters.org/items/200609280011 | work= | pages= | accessdate= ] cite web | first=| last=| coauthors= | title="Still criticizing Vote Vets ad, FactCheck.org's Jackson falsely claimed, "There has never been a vote on body armour"" |date=September 30, 2006 | publisher=Media Matters for America | url=http://mediamatters.org/items/200610300009 | work= | pages= | accessdate= ]
The group also ran ads targeting now-former Representatives
Melissa Hart, Gil Gutknecht, John Sweeney, as well as Reps. John Doolittle and Jon Porter. In that ad, an Iraq veteran, Tomas Young, who was paralyzed in Iraq, criticized the members of Congress for voting against increases in funding for veterans’ health care, while, in some cases, voting themselves a pay raise.
The group also made a number of contributions to candidates, but only to those candidates who served during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2006, out of all the Iraq or Afghanistan veterans running for Congress, VoteVets.org supported all but one of them, who declined their endorsement (
Van Taylor, Republican in Texas). Those endorsed candidates were: Patrick Murphy(D-PA), Joe Sestak(D-PA), Tammy Duckworth(D-IL), Sam Schultz (R-IN), Andrew Duck(D-MD), and David Harris (D-TX). The group also supported Tim Walz(D-MN), and Chris Carney(D-PA). Murphy, Sestak, Walz, and Carney were all elected to Congress, and VoteVets.org’s site indicates they have been endorsed for their 2008 reelection.
VoteVets.org PAC in the 2008 Elections
VoteVets.org Political Action Committee continued to endorse many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for Congress in the 2008 elections. Those include
Rick Noriega(D-TX) who is running for Senate in Texas against incumbent John Cornyn, and many running for the House, including John Boccieri (D-OH), Mike Lumpkin (D-CA), Ashwin Madia (D-MN), Jill Morgenthaler (D-IL), Steve Sarvi (D-MN), and Jonathan Powers (D-NY). The group also has endorsed a few who are not Iraq or Afghanistan combat veterans, including Eric Massa (D-NY), and Gary Peters (D-MI), who both served within the last decade. The group also held an on-line runoff, in which members were able to vote for one older veteran to endorse. That runoff was won by Charlie Brown (D-CA), who the group endorsed. [VoteVets.org Endorsed Candidates, www.votevets.org]
The group has also endorsed the candidates who it endorsed in 2006 and reached Congress, Representatives
Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Tim Walz, and Chris Carney.
The group has not endorsed a Presidential candidate.
VoteVets.org Action Fund
VoteVets.org Action Fund, the group's non-profit wing, has also been active in the paid airwaves. The first ad generated by the action fund was an ad critical of then-Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, for "failing to ask the tough questions" on the war, as the group said. The group ran a newspaper ad and radio ad, featuring Jeremy Broussard, in Connecticut.The Action Fund also commissioned a 2006 poll, conducted by pollster
Celinda Lake, of troops who had returned from Iraq. That poll found many troops did not feel they were given what they needed to succeed in Iraq, and even more had faced medical, mental, and financial hardship when they returned home.
The action fund ran a television ad that gained national prominence titled, "Because of Iraq." That ad was notable because it included the image of another television ad, featuring
Osama bin Laden, produced by the Republican National Committee, commonly referred to as the "ticking time bomb" ad. The ad from VoteVets begins with a series of veterans of the war explaining what they felt was a negative impact of the war in Iraq. For example, one veteran said, "Because of Iraq, there are more terrorists in the world." At the end of the VoteVets ad, General Wesley Clarksays, "So if you see commercials telling you to be afraid of terrorism, remember: It's because of Iraq."
In a series of ads that may have received the most attention for the group, VoteVets.org presented three generals, two of whom were commanders on the ground in Iraq, who became critical of President Bush's execution of the war. Those were Major General (ret.)
John Batiste, Major General (ret.) Paul Eaton, and General Wesley Clark. Major General Batiste had commanded the First Infantry Division in Iraq, and Major General Eaton had been the first to be in command of rebuilding Iraqi Defense Forces after the fall of the Saddam regime. Those ads ran in the districts of Congressmen and Senators that the group felt were ready to abandon the President on the war. In fact, four targets of the ad were part of the so-called "gang of eleven" Republicans who went to the White House to complain to President Bush about the war, right after the ad aired. Though some claimed the targets of the ad were "vulnerable Republicans," some of the targets, including Reps. Fred Uptonand Mike Rogers, have easily won reelection in the past, and are considered "safe" seats.
In 2008, the Action Fund undertook two major actions that received national attention. First, the organization, along with
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washingtonexposed an internal email from a Department of Veterans Affairscenter in Temple, Texas, which read in part, "Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that we refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD.citenews | first=| last=| coauthors= | title= E-mail from VA worker says to avoid PTSD diagnosis |date= May 18, 2008 | publisher= AP | url=http://www.votevets.org/news?id=0134 | work= | pages= | accessdate = 2008-06-26 ] The exposing of the email caused Senator Barack Obamato call for hearings, and for Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate, Senator Daniel Akaka, to hold such hearings.citenews | first=Leo | last=Shane | coauthors= | title= VA officials answer criticisms in Congress |date= June 6, 2008 | publisher= Stars and Stripes | url=http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=62618&archive=true | work= | pages= | accessdate = 2008-06-26 ]
The second major action was a public push for a 21st Century GI Bill, which would boost the amount troops received in education benefits. The Action Fund backed the bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator
Jim Webband Senator Chuck Hagel. As part of the group's efforts, it released an internet video with Brave New Films, urging the passage of the bill [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK_9sI7hzAc YouTube - Why Won't McCain Sign the GI Bill? ] ] , with an attached petition, which received 30,000, according to the group. It also aired television ads, targeting Senator John McCain[ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcDMD0B7r88 YouTube - VoteVets.org Ad on McCain / GI Bill ] ] and Senator John Cornyn[ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8cz3iAC3qo YouTube - VoteVets.org Ad on Cornyn/ GI Bill ] ] , who did not support the bill.
General John Batiste video
In May 2007, retired Major General
John Batisteappeared in a [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMPIi03wSfY political video] for VoteVets.org.citenews | first= | last= | coauthors= | title= Ret. Generals' Ads Protest Bush Iraq Plan |date= May 10, 2007 | publisher= CBS News | url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/10/politics/main2784603.shtml | work= | pages= | accessdate = 2007-05-12 ] As part of a $500,000 campaign, variations of the video were shown in a number of congressional districts and also included two other retired generals: Paul D. Eatonand Wesley K. Clark.citenews | first=THOM | last=SHANKER | coauthors= | title=Army Career Behind Him, General Speaks Out on Iraq |date=May 13, 2007 | publisher=The New York Times | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/us/13generals.html?_r=1&oref=slogin | work= | pages= | accessdate =2007-05-13] Batiste had been an Iraq War news consultant for CBS News. However, following his appearance in the video, CBS stated that appearing in the advertisement violated their contract, and Batiste was asked to "vacate his position."cite web |url=http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2007/05/11/publiceye/entry2791091.shtml |title=CBS News Asks Batiste To Step Down As Consultant |accessdate=2007-05-12 |author=Brian Montopoli |authorlink= |coauthors= |date=2007-05-11 |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=CBS News |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]
Board of Advisors
As of June 2007 from the VoteVets.org [http://www.votevets.org/about?id=0005 website] .
Jon Soltz, Co-Founder and Chairman
Wesley K. Clark(ret.)
Paul D. Eaton(ret.)
Leslie H. Gelb
William E. Little
Lawrence E. PennIII
Views on 2nd United States-Iraq War
Opposition to the Iraq War- Article about opposition (from outside Iraq) to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Iraq War in general.
Views on the 2003 invasion of Iraq- Article containing links to several topics relating to views on the invasion, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq.
* - A book in the
Opposing Viewpoints series, presenting selections of contrasting viewpoints on four central questions about the Iraq War and its aftermath.
Other U.S. Veterans' organizations
Veterans for Peace- American organization founded in 1985 consisting of combat and peacetime veterans who work to promote alternatives to war.
American Legion- A large organization of veterans of the United States armed forces who served in wartime. The American Legion was founded in 1919 by veterans returning from Europe after World War I.
Veterans of Foreign Wars- Originally formed in 1914 by merging two existing veterans organizations, the VFW is composed of combat veterans of the United States armed forces who served in wartime.
Iraq Veterans Against the War- American political advocacy organization founded by Iraq veterans. Their stated purposes are bringing an end to the occupation of Iraq, obtaining benefits for returning veterans, and bringing reparations to the Iraqi people.
Veterans for Freedom- American political advocacy organization founded by veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. Its stated purpose is advocacy of victory in America's ongoing War on Terrorism, and support of candidates with positions consistent with this goal.
[http://www.votevets.org VoteVets.org Homepage]
[http://myspace.com/votevets VoteVets.org MySpace Page]
[http://www.youtube.com/user/votevets VoteVets.org YouTube Page]
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