The Democratic Party of Virginia received a $150,000 donation earlier this month from a D.C.-based progressive nonprofit that is funded by millions in dark money.
ACRONYM, a 501(c)(4) “dark money” group, was co-founded in 2017 by Tara McGowan, a 33-year-old Democratic strategist and former digital director for the Priorities USA super PAC, and former Dollar Shave Club CEO Mike Dubin. During ACRONYM’s first year in 2017, McGowan coordinated 100 percent of the digital advertising for Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D., Va.) successful gubernatorial race, according to Axios.
On Sept. 6, ACRONYM donated $150,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia, making it the largest single donation to the Virginia Democrats in 2019, tied with the House Democratic Caucus and Common Good VA, which also made $150,000 donations, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. In addition to helping Virginia Democrats, ACRONYM is investing seven figures in a Virginia news website called the Dogwood, as the Daily Beast reported in July.
The Dogwood makes no bones about its progressive leanings. But such deep financial backing from an explicitly agenda-driven organization raises questions of disclosure and journalistic ethics as the website covers policy fights and political contests that might involve paying clients of its largest investor.