Center for American Progress

Center for American Progress
Motto Progressive ideas for a strong, just, and free America.
Founded October 24, 2003 (2003-10-24)
Founder John Podesta
Type Public policy think tank
Coordinates 38°54′01″N 77°01′52″W / 38.900373°N 77.031047°W / 38.900373; -77.031047Coordinates: 38°54′01″N 77°01′52″W / 38.900373°N 77.031047°W / 38.900373; -77.031047
Neera Tanden
Tom Daschle
$45,156,090 (2014)[1]
Expenses $42,425,026 (2014)

The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization. According to CAP, the center is "dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action."[2] The Center presents a liberal[3] viewpoint on economic issues. It has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The president and chief executive officer of CAP is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.[4] The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to then U.S. President Bill Clinton, and is currently serving as Hillary Clinton's 2016 Campaign Director.[5] Podesta remained with the organization as chairman of the board until he joined the Obama White House staff in December 2013. Tom Daschle is the current chairman.[6]

The Center for American Progress runs a campus outreach group, Generation Progress, and a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). Citing Podesta's influence in the formation of the Obama Administration, a November 2008 article in Time stated that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway".[7]

History and mission

The Center for American Progress was created in 2003 as a left-leaning alternative to think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.[8]

Since its inception, the center has assembled a group of high-profile senior fellows, including Lawrence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; Ruy Teixeira, political scientist and author of The Emerging Democratic Majority; and, most recently, former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Elizabeth Edwards, late wife of former presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina John Edwards. Sarah Rosen Wartell, a co-founder and executive vice-president of the center, has been named President of the Urban Institute[9]

The center helped Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) develop "strategic redeployment",[10] a comprehensive plan for the Iraq War that included a timetable and troop withdrawals.


Gov. Martin O'Malley speaking at CAP


Main article: ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress is a blog edited by Judd Legum that "provide[s] a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies."[11] It is an outlet of the Center for American Progress.

Generation Progress

Main article: Generation Progress

Generation Progress was launched in February 2005 and is CAP's youth outreach arm.[12] According to the organization, Generation Progress partners with over a million millennials.[13]

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Formerly known simply as the American Progress Action Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) is a "sister advocacy organization"[14] and is organizationally and financially separate from CAP, although they share many staff and a physical address. Politico wrote in April 2011 that it "openly runs political advocacy campaigns, and plays a central role in the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, and the new reporting staff down the hall isn’t exactly walled off from that message machine, nor does it necessarily keep its distance from liberal groups organizing advocacy campaigns targeting conservatives".[15] Whereas CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CAP Action is a 501(c)(4),[16] allowing it to devote more funds to lobbying.[17] In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to $3 million.[18] CAP Action is headed by Neera Tanden.[19]

Science Progress

Science Progress was an internet publication about progressive science and technology policy. Science Progress was a project of the Center for American Progress. Its mission was "to improve the understanding of science among policymakers and other thought leaders and to develop exciting, progressive ideas about innovation in science and technology for the United States in the 21st Century."[20] It began publication on 4 October 2007,[21] the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1. Content on the web site included news, in-depth essays, and text- and audio-based interviews. The Science Progress staff included Editor-In-Chief Jonathan D. Moreno.[22]


Wikileaks 2016 Hillary Clinton Campaign Controversy

The Center for American Progress attracted controversy for email chains "attacking two major faith groups--evangelicals and Catholics"[23] during the Wikileaks hack of 2011 emails.[24] The email chains were between Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and John Halpin from the Center for American Progress.[25][26][27][28][29] Podesta did not respond in the email thread.[28]

In one of these alleged emails, "Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC and think tanks to the media and social groups. It's an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy. I imagine they think [Catholicism] is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals." Palmieri was reportedly referring to Rupert Murdoch raising his children as Catholics;[25][27][28][29][30] [31]

Lack of transparency for funding sources

Some open government groups, such as the Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, criticize the Center's failure to disclose its contributors, particularly since it is so influential in appointments to the Obama administration.[32][33]

Jewish controversy

CAP was criticized by several Jewish organizations after some employees "publicly used language that could be construed as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic".[34] Bloggers associated with CAP published several posts using phrases such as "apartheid" and "Israel-firsters", causing NGO Monitor, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League to label them anti-Israel and call on CAP to disassociate themselves from these statements.[35] Officials at CAP said the “inappropriate” language came only in personal tweets—not on CAP’s website or its ThinkProgress blog. The Tweets were deleted, and the authors apologized.[34]

Other writers, however, criticized CAP for what they saw as censorship of reasonable comments critical of Israeli settlements and other policies. Based on leaked emails, columnist Glenn Greenwald, for example, wrote that CAP had deleted references to Israeli settlement policies in reports by their staffers.[36][37][38][39]

Greenwald and others also criticized CAP for hosting a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Netanyahu was hostile to the Obama Administration.[40] Greenwald described CAP's positions as "servitude to AIPAC and pandering to Netanyahu."[36] Eighteen organizations and over one hundred academics signed an open letter, circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace and the Arab American Institute, against the meeting. 26,300 people signed a petition opposing the meeting.[41]

A leaked email revealed that Judd Legum, the editor of ThinkProgress, a site that’s part of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, had taken credit for discrediting Roger Pielke Jr. and preventing his writing from appearing on 538 [42][43]


The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code.[16] In 2013, CAP received $42 million from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, labor unions, and corporations.[44] From 2003 to 2007, CAP received about $15 million in grants from 58 foundations.[45] Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. The Center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors.[46] In December 2013, the organization released a list of its corporate donors, which include Walmart, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, defense contractor Northrup Grumman, America's Health Insurance Plans, and Eli Lilly and Company.[47]

In 2015, CAP released a partial list of its donors, which included 28 anonymous donors accounting for at least $5 million in contributions. Named donors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, which each gave between $500,000 and $999,999. CAP’s top donors include Walmart and Citigroup, each of which have given between $100,000 and $499,000.[48][49]

2015 Donors (excluding anonymous)[50] Level
Ford Foundation $1,000,000+
The Hutchins Family Foundation $1,000,000+
Sandler Foundation $1,000,000+
TomKat Charitable Trust $1,000,000+
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
Joyce Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
Not On Our Watch $500,000 to $999,999
Open Square Charitable Gift Fund $500,000 to $999,999
Embassy of United Arab Emirates $500,000 to $999,999
Walton Family Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation $500,000 to $999,999

See also


  1. "Center for American Progress". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  2. "Our mission". Center for American Progress. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  3. E.g.,
  4. Horowitz, Jason (November 3, 2011). "Think-tank post puts spotlight on veteran Democratic operative Neera Tanden". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  5. "Meet the Man Behind Hillary Clinton's Campaign". Time. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  6. "CAP Board of Directors". Center for American Progress. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  7. Scherer, Michael (November 21, 2008). "Inside Obama's Idea Factory in Washington", Time. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  8. Robert Dreyfuss, "An Idea Factory for the Democrats", The Nation March 1, 2004
  9. Sarah Rosen Wartell, Think Tank Executive and Housing Finance Expert, to be the Urban Institute's Third President
  10. CAP article, strategic redeployment. Retrieved November 15, 2006. Archived November 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Somanader, Tanya. "ThinkProgress blog". Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  12. "About Us". Generation Progress. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  13. "CAP to unveil 'Generation Progress'". Politico. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  14. "About the Center for American Progress Action Fund". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  15. "Center for American Progress news team takes aim at GOP". Politico. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  16. 1 2 "State Notices". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  17. "Add to the Collective Genius Archived December 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.." Retrieved December 27, 2006.
  18. "Soros' Deep Pockets vs. Bush". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  19. "American Progress Staff". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  20. Science Progress about page
  21. "A Year of Science Progress". Science Progress. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  22. "Jonathan D Moreno, Ph.D.". Perelman School of Medicine. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  23. Wallace (19 October 2016). "WikiLeaks Dump: Top Clinton Aides Mock Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity". FoxNews Insider. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  24. "Catholics: Fire Clinton Aide Palmieri for WikiLeaked Email". NewsMax. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  25. 1 2 Asher, Julie. "WikiLeaks hack exposes Clinton staff's past Catholic conversations". national catholic reporter. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  26. Wolfgang, Ben. "Clinton campaign mocks Catholics, Southerners, 'needy Latinos' in emails". Washington Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  27. 1 2 Merica, Dan. "Clinton campaign chief helped start Catholic organisations to create 'revolution' in the Church". Catholic Herald. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  28. 1 2 3 Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. "WikiLeaks emails appear to show Clinton spokeswoman joking about Catholics and evangelicals". Washington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  29. 1 2 Bash, Dana; Diaz, Daniella. "First on CNN: Religious leaders slam Clinton campaign over emails". CNN. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  30. Wolfgang, Ben. "Clinton campaign mocks Catholics, Southerners, 'needy Latinos' in emails". Washington Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  31. Staff. "13 revelations from Wikileaks' hacked Clinton emails". BBC. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  32. Ben Smith and Chris Frates (December 9, 2008). "Where's transparency of Podesta group?". Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  33. Krugman, Paul (January 28, 2010). "March of the Peacocks". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
  34. 1 2 Wallsten, Peter (January 20, 2012). "Center for American Progress, group tied to Obama, under fire from Israel advocates". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  35. Weinthal, Benjamin. "NGOs slam 'anti-Semitic' US think tank comments". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  36. 1 2 Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism, Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Nov. 5, 2015
  37. Why Is the Center for American Progress Hosting Benjamin Netanyahu? The Israeli prime minister has spent the last few years trying to sabotage the Obama administration’s foreign policy. So what’s with the invite? By Ali Gharib, The Nation, October 28, 2015
  38. Center for American Progress Hosts Netanyahu as Leaked Emails Show Group Censored Staff on Israel, By Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now, November 12, 2015
  39. Has the Israel Lobby Gone Too Far? Will a recent attack on progressive journalists help spark a sea-change in the debate over Middle East policy? By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, December 16, 2011.
  40. "Center for American Progress under fire for hosting speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu". The Washington Post. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  41. "Center for American Progress under fire for hosting speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu". Washington Post. November 9, 2015.
  43. Legum wrote: “I think it’s fair say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538,”
  44. Yeager, Holly (December 13, 2013). "Center for American Progress releases donor list". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  45. "John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile". The New York Times. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  46. Savage, Charlie (November 7, 2008). "John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile". New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  47. "Our Supporters". Center for American Progress. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  48. Berman, Dan (January 21, 2015). "Liberal Group Claims Transparency but Keeps Some Donors' Names Secret". National Journal. Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  49. Sargent, Greg (January 21, 2015). "Center for American Progress, poised to wield influence over 2016, reveals its top donors". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  50. "Our Supporters" (PDF). Center for American Progress. Retrieved 2015-04-14.
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