I Was Attacked by a $33 Million Dark Money Group - Wolf-PAC

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I Was Attacked by a $33 Million Dark Money Group

This time, it’s personal

By Sam Fieldman (May 26, 2023)

Recently, while scrolling through my emails, I found one from my friend Vickie Deppe. She declared, “Sam, we’re FAMOUS! ;D,” and linked me to an article by the Center for Media and Democracy. (Vickie, with her old-school charm, still uses emoticons instead of emojis to express her wry humor.) Could we get famous from a hit piece?

Who is behind the hit piece?

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) are not themselves swimming in $33 million. That honor goes to Common Cause, who raked in that sum just last year ($10 million by their 501c4 and $23 million by their 501c3). With more than a quarter of their funds coming from donations over $100,000, they really put the ‘money’ in ‘dark money.’ And the ‘dark’ too, since their last ‘annual’ donor report is about as recent as the last season of ‘Breaking Bad’ (hint: 2013). That’s so long ago, the Supreme Court hadn’t yet abolished the aggregate individual donation limit. You can currently see that report only on archive.org.

Now, I’m not painting all of Common Cause as the bad guys. Their staff, for the most part, are decent folk who do genuine good work in support of transparency. Some of them even effectively work with Wolf-PAC volunteers. So they are generally shocked when they learn their own organization doesn’t live up to their ideals. Either they’re really Oscar-worthy actors — or they simply don’t think to question those signing their paychecks. They’re human, after all.

In this plot, Arn Pearson, former VP at Common Cause and current chief penman behind the hit piece, might also be what he claims I am: an unwitting accomplice. His sources all boil down to one thing: Common Cause. He cites the author of their letter on Article V (which contains zero peer-reviewed sources) as well as Common Cause itself.

The importance of being non-partisan

They also refer to the elusive ‘Defend Our Constitution‘ — the Two Face to Common Cause’s Harvey Dent — the Common Cause “secret” identity they use when they need to mingle with Republicans. Because unlike CMD apparently, Common Cause knows that they must sometimes talk to Republicans… but they need a secret identity or they’ll be “exposed” too. The last source actually has credibility (it’s me). He links to my talk at Academy of States 3.0, where I discuss the precedents that bolster our cause.

The writers at ‘Exposed by CMD’ are quick to scoff at Delegate Limitation Bills like the one introduced by former Wolf-PAC Board President Jodi Newell in New Hampshire. If they’re so worried about the process, wouldn’t they support extra safety measures? Even Joe Biden thought so.

The folks at CMD seem bewildered by my ALEC cameo. Sure, I had my doubts initially, but our allies at American Promise persuaded me to appear. Their premise? Highlight the bipartisan backbone of our mission — and it worked! Of an overwhelmingly Republican room, 68% of the audience supported a campaign finance reform amendment after the Wolf-PAC/American Promise joint presentation at ALEC. And at Academy 3.0 at NCSL, every single speaker, almost all of them Republicans, support an amendment on campaign finance reform. Surprise CMD: Wolf-PAC plays nice across party lines. Plus, I got to denounce Charles Koch’s billions on ALEC TV (I wonder if he actually saw it personally).

The Academy of States

For the full story on our Academy of States saga, check out my interview on The Humanist Report. AoS is like a smorgasbord of reformers – a loose alliance, working together when we agree, but with no obligation to do anything when we don’t. This is why the hyper-partisan Convention of States was never invited to the Academy 3.0 guest list. Indeed, amendments require consensus. Their hyper-partisan stance makes it impossible for them to succeed in anything but fundraising by making their audience angry.

I took this personally, and so should you!

Speaking of which… Please donate to Wolf-PAC. Our commitment to campaign finance reform has drawn remarkable support from people all across the political spectrum. Real change calls for real conversations, not just echo chambers. Getting that message out, fighting back against big money groups like Common Cause and others that buy their propaganda, takes generous donations from people like you.


  1. Pearson, A. (2023, May 23). ALEC Is Using Wolf-PAC to Help the Right Rewrite the Constitution. EXPOSEDbyCMD. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2023/05/23/alec-is-using-wolf-pac-to-help-the-right-rewrite-the-constitution
  2. Common Cause 2013 Annual Report: Common Cause. (2019, February 15). Internet Archive. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://archive.org/details/CommonCause2013AnnualReport/Common%20Cause%202013%20Annual%20Report/
  3. About Us – Defend Our Constitution. (2020, January 8). Defend Our Constitution. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://defendourconstitution.org/about/
  4. Path To Reform. (2022, September 30). ACADEMY 3.O – Delegate Selection for an Article V Convention of the States [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjhaG62KdVI
  5. Statement of Joseph R. Biden on Article V Convention Regulations – 1985.pdf. (1985, September 10). Google Docs. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KTi3RCWXMWvg0lOJU7teG47K3R2dF4SN/view
  6. American Promise. (n.d.). American Promise. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://americanpromise.net/
  7. Path To Reform. (2022b, September 30). ACADEMY 3.O – Delegate Selection for an Article V Convention of the States [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjhaG62KdVI
  8. ALECtv. (2021, December 2). ALECtv with Sam Fieldman, Jim Rubens, and David Biddulph at States & Nation Policy Summit 2021 [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved June 13, 2023, from https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxEdkseBmmC_IaK2c7yW2uhDRTdx1DWXbX
  9. The Humanist Report. (2022, September 12). Wolf-PAC’s Movement to Get Money Out of Politics: 10-Years Later (w/ Sam Fieldman) [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLYII6Z7B4M

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