WASHINGTON — Failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has joined the board of advisors of The Collective, a little-known but increasingly influential progressive political organization that says it is seeking to build a “black political power” movement while its co-founder complained that there are too many “white men” holding public office.
Billionaire activist George Soros is a direct financial contributor to The Collective.
The clear majority of The Collective’s large donations come from a single entity, Collective Future, which is the 501c4 arm of The Collective and as such does not need to legally disclose the sources of its own funding. Gillum’s association with the group is notable given the Florida politician’s warning last February about the influence of “dark money” in his own race for governor, referring to entities that obscure their donors.
The Collective’s co-founder, Quentin James, did not return Breitbart News phone and email requests this week seeking comment on Collective Future’s private donor list.
Gillum, a CNN commentator, penned a fundraising email for The Collective earlier this week announcing his decision to join the group’s advisory board.
The Collective believed in me. You all invested in my campaign very early. And together, we not only won the primary — we came within 0.4% of winning in November. You believed in me, and now I want to give back — that’s why I’m so proud to have joined The Collective’s Board of Advisors!
I want to help The Collective finish this month off stronger than ever so they can invest early in the next round of progressive candidates. Trust me: I know how much of a difference a strong start can make.
Will you chip in before Tuesday’s end-of-month deadline to help The Collective raise $20,000 to invest in more races like mine in 2019 and 2020?
The Collective was one of the donors central to funding Gillum’s successful primary fight for Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination and then it helped him in the general race where he lost to Republican Ron DeSantis.
The Collective reportedly injected nearly $2 million into Gillum’s campaign, funding television and radio ads, get-out-the-vote drives, and playing a key role in helping Gillum defeat his Democratic opponents, some of whom were better-funded and had more statewide name recognition. The group announced plans to continue backing Gillum during the current general election campaign.
A closer look at The Collective’s individual donor list for the 2017-2018 cycle finds that Soros provided $70,000 in December 2017. Planned Parenthood, also financed by Soros, is listed as providing $12,500.
The clear majority of The Collective’s large donations came from its 501c4 arm, Collective Future, which keeps its donor list private.
FEC records show that between May and July of last year, during the heat of Gillum’s primary race, Collective Future pumped a total of $1,624,772 into The Collective.
Last year, James, The Collective’s co-founder, specifically declined a Breitbart News request seeking clarification on Collective Future’s donor list.
James was asked by email to comment on “the source(s) of the funding to Collective Future.” He was also asked whether Soros or billionaire Tom Steyer, both of whom separately backed groups promoting Gillum, were donors to Collective Future, particularly considering Soros’s direct $70,000 donation to The Collective group.
“We’re gonna decline here but thank you for reaching out,” James replied.
James himself has previously worked for Soros-funded organizations. He formerly served as the National Director for the student coalition of the Soros-funded Sierra Club. He also served as a National Board Member for the NAACP, which is heavily financed by Soros.
James co-founded Vestige Strategies, a consulting firm that he runs with his wife, Stefanie Brown James, who held national roles in campaigns for both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Brown James is also The Collective’s co-founder and senior adviser. Vestige Strategies’ website boasts “experience” and “recognitions,” including work for the Soros-financed groups NAACP and the Sierra Club. Other listed groups include the super PAC Ready for Hillary, as well as Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
The Collective’s support for Gillum during the gubernatorial race came alongside donations to aid the politician by other progressive groups, including one run by Steyer, who spent $1.4 million on Gillum’s race. Days before the Aug. 28 primary, Soros joined with Steyer to lead a group of donors making a $650,000 infusion into Gillum’s coffers.
James: Too Many ‘White Men’ Hold Office
The Collective is a race-centric organization that boasted on its website it is “working to fix the challenge of African American underrepresentation in elected seats of power throughout our nation.” The aim of the organization is to “reach political equity — a place where African American elected officials represent the community’s population statistically.”
The Collective boasts it has been “building black political power since 2016.”
The Collective runs a “Black Campaign School” where James says they train people on how to build a political movement in America’s “heightened, almost racist environment.” He charged that this environment has spiraled into “white supremacy” under the tenure of President Trump.
In a profile last year, James complained that “white men” hold too many elected positions.
Why is it that white men, who are 31 percent of our population, hold over 65 percent of all elected positions? We have a situation where the people who write the law, defend the law and fund the law don’t represent the demographics of the American population. If this continues, we will be stuck in a position of continually asking those from outside our communities to save our communities. I don’t want that future and I bet most people in our community don’t either.
Since 2016, the group has been holding weekend retreats called the “Black Campaign School,” where James says the training focuses on building a political movement amid what he claims is America’s “heightened, almost racist environment,” one that he says exploded into “white supremacy” in the era of Trump.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our progressive trainings and Democratic trainings don’t center the experience of racism in this country,” said James, speaking to thegrio.com.
“He’s really inspired a heightened level of white supremacy and white nationalism in our country,” James claimed about Trump. “If we aren’t preparing people on how to run in a heightened, almost racist, environment, then we’re doing them a disservice.”
2020: Gillum and Florida
Progressive organizations and the Democratic Party recognize the centrality of Florida for the 2020 presidential election and have been working to deploy a massive ground game to register voters, increase turnout and lobby Floridians against President Donald Trump.
With its 29 Electoral College votes, Florida is the nation’s biggest swing state and is critical to Trump’s path to victory in the upcoming race. If statewide 2016 voting patterns are repeated, the Democratic candidate for president would be able to win the White House by capturing Florida and one other swing state – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin or Michigan.
A centerpiece of the Democrats’ swing state efforts revolve around a Florida state amendment that was passed last year restoring voting rights for felons, with progressive groups battling efforts to require the state’s nearly 1.4 million ex-felons to first pay civil fines and court fees before registering to vote.
Democrats seek to transform Florida’s current voter map of 4.96 million registered Democrats, 4.7 million Republicans and about 3.6 million voters with no declared party affiliation.
Gillum recently announced his own Florida voter registration initiative committed to registering no less than one million new voters for 2020 while aiming to “evict Donald Trump” from the White House.
“We are going to commit ourselves to registering and engaging one million voters between now and 2020’s presidential election,” Gillum said last month in Miami, addressing his new group which calls itself Bring It Home Florida.
“The road to the White House runs through Florida,” added Gillum. “We can deny Donald Trump a second term right here in the state of Florida.”
“How many states can you say, by themselves, have the ability to deny this man a return to the White House?” Gillum asked. “I can’t think of a bigger, better, more important state than the state of Florida, than for us to send that message.”
Gillum, meanwhile, has been closely associated with Soros-funded progressive groups.
Breitbart News previously reported Gillum served as the director of a radical youth training organization whose mission was to challenge U.S. “predatory capitalism,” abolish the prison system, fight a “spiritual resistance” battle against “Christian hegemony,” redefine the meaning of “borders” while aiding “undocumented” aliens, and enact the “collective liberation” of “communities of color” amid what it described as the scourge of “white supremacy.”
Gillum’s group accused the U.S. of being a “colonialist” power perpetrating “structural violence” and “continued genocide.” It claimed conservatives in the U.S. judicial system were “justifying white supremacist policing practices.”
All of that extremist rhetoric and more was posted on the official “issues” sections of the organization’s website while Gillum not only served as its active director, but while his picture, position and bio were brandished on the same site on the “staff” page.
The organization in question is Young People For, or YP4, one of two youth training groups that Gillum directed and oversaw while he worked at the George Soros-financed People for the American Way, or PFAW, as field organizer in 2002 and then Director of Youth Leadership Programs from 2005 until January 13, 2017. He departed PFAW just ahead of his gubernatorial run.
Also, Breitbart News reported Gillum graduated from an Oakland, California-based training school for progressive revolutionaries that has spawned a list of activists who have gone on to become the who’s who of the far-left leadership world, with many taking senior positions at organizations financed by Soros.
In scores of cases, graduates of the Rockwood Leadership Institute founded or directed notorious Soros-financed activist groups, such as Black Lives Matter, Media Matters for America, MoveOn.org and the Tides Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of progressive groups.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.