Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s political career has been nurtured by one of the country’s most powerful socialists: San Francisco attorney Steve Phillips, a self-identified student of “Marx, Mao, and Lenin” who has worked closely with student radicals supportive of the Communist Party of China.
In fact, a group who has become a major force in Gillum’s campaign is also supportive of the communist leadership in China. In this same vein, Gillum also spent much of 2012 studying with a communist-led activist training school based in California.
Gillum, who is currently polling six points ahead of his conservative Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, could become Florida’s next governor.
Phillips is the power behind Gillum. Author of “Brown Is the New White,” Phillips has made it his mission to support progressive candidates of color for high office. This strategy, according to Phillips, will energize minority voters to vote, pushing hard-left candidates into positions of power.
Phillips has provided vast sums of money to Gillum, who shares his hard-left ideological perspective.
Describing his radical history, Phillips wrote in a Dec. 20, 2012, article for the PowerPAC+ publication Political Intelligence:
“First, let me make clear that I come out of the Left. I’ve studied Marx, Mao, and Lenin. In college … I palled around with folks who considered themselves communists and revolutionaries. … My political baptism was the Jesse Jackson 1984 Presidential campaign.”
Phillips was a student at Stanford University in the mid-late 1980s. The “communists” to which Phillips refers were cadres of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (LRS), a 3,000-strong pro-China revolutionary group that served as the backbone of Jackson’s “Rainbow Coalition.” While Phillips has publicly denied being a member of the communist LRS, he wrote for the LRS newspaper Unity and led several LRS-influenced organizations. When LRS split in 1990, Phillips emerged as a public leader of the majority Unity Organizing Committee faction.
Phillips worked in both the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns of Jackson, taking a year off school in 1988 to work full-time as Jackson’s West Coast student organizer.
Phillips learned a lot from Jackson. The major lesson was that the key to building unbeatable electoral power was to couple the “progressive white” and “low propensity” voting minority populations behind leftist “candidates of color.”
Jackson received 7 million votes in 1988, achieving fourth place in the Democratic primary—not enough to win, but enough to plant the seed of a race-centric strategy for the future. According to Phillips’s own figures, “minorities” have increased from 12 percent to 38 percent of the population in the last quarter century. This makes the “Rainbow Coalition” strategy much more viable.
Phillips has brought Jackson’s vision into the modern era. But an AstroTurf political vision is nothing without the money to realize it.
Marxism and Money
After college, newly minted attorney Phillips married fellow Stanford alumni Susan Sandler, the daughter of leftist savings and loan billionaires Herb and Marion Sandler.
The Sandler family has used their money to support leftist groups such as ProPublica and the Center for American Progress. The money opened doors for Phillips and Susan Sandler. They were invited to serve on influential boards. They became very influential in Democratic Party circles.
In 2008, Phillips, along with his old college radical friend Andy Wong and future head of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Ben Jealous—both former Jackson supporters—raised $10 million to back the long-shot campaign for Barack Obama. They also applied the “Rainbow Coalition” strategy by initiating “minority” voter registration campaigns in 18 states. This was the impetus needed to get ahead of the then widely favored Hillary Clinton.
There likely would have been no President Obama without Steve Phillips.
Phillips also established PowerPAC+, PowerPAC.org, and Democracy in Color specifically to fund and campaign for “candidates of color.” Many of PowerPAC+’s board members were Phillips’s former student Maoist friends from Stanford. PowerPAC.org endorsed five “candidate of color” gubernatorial candidates in the 2018 election cycle.
Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, served on the PowerPAC+ board from approximately 2012 to 2016.
“PowerPAC.org is committed to supporting the civic engagement of voters of color and the election of progressive leaders of color. Much of our strategy is outlined in the book ‘Brown Is The New White,’ written by our founder Steve Phillips,” the PowerPAC.org website states.
“Our work involves researching where votes of color can make a difference in races, how demographic trends can affect [sic] change in public policy and leadership, and how civic engagement methodologies can change how campaigns are run.
“As we move forward, we will deepen our work in California as well as launching a multi-state initiative to support gubernatorial candidates of color in GA (Stacey Abrams), MD (Ben Jealous), AZ (David Garcia), CA (John Chiang), and FL (Andrew Gillum).”
John Chiang’s campaign was a bust, but Stacey Abrams, Ben Jealous, David Garcia, and Andrew Gillum all convincingly won their primaries. All have employed the “Rainbow Coalition” strategy—using their candidacies to mobilize minority voters. They are all connected to Phillips and PowerPAC+/Democracy in Color, and all have received significant funding from that quarter.
The Democracy Alliance
In 2004, Progressive Insurance billionaire Peter Lewis, along with leftist mega-donor George Soros, and Herb and Marion Sandler, established America Votes “to coordinate various get-out-the-vote drives during the 2004 election,” according to New York Times reporter Matt Bai. After that didn’t go as well as planned, the Sandlers also sent their son-in-law Phillips as their representative to the October 2005 meeting of the Democracy Alliance at the Château Elan outside Atlanta.
The super-secretive Democracy Alliance has since recruited more than a hundred rich leftist donors to fund “progressive” Democratic candidates across America. Both Phillips and Susan Sandler have served on the board of the Democracy Alliance.
When Gillum’s campaign was floundering, running fourth or fifth place two months out from the primary, the Democracy Alliance stepped in.
Democracy Alliance members Soros, Tom Steyer, Norman Lear, Susan Sandler, and Phillips contributed significant sums in the closing weeks of the primaries. Steyer topped the list with $1 million, with the Soros family coming in second with $450,000.
As a 501(c)(4), Collective Future (an arm of Collective PAC) is not legally required to disclose its donors. However, Collective PAC founder Quentin James does serve on the board of “movement” staff recruiting organization Inclusv, alongside Phillips, PowerPAC+ board member Gregory Cendana, and long-time friend of Phillips and political collaborator Alida Garcia.
Rockwood Leadership Institute
After the League of Revolutionary Struggle (LRS) split in 1990, many ex-members ended up in the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). Maoist-leaning and discreetly pro-China, FRSO is highly secretive and has managed to infiltrate whole networks of U.S. nonprofits and social agencies, from the Ford Foundation to the Chinese Progressive Association (Boston and San Francisco), to Black Lives Matter, to, of course, the Democratic Party.
The Oakland, California-based Rockwood Leadership Institute is very much part of the FRSO “sphere of influence.” Rockwood is basically a training school for revolutionaries.
Recent board members have included
- Ellen Friedman, a former member of the Socialist Feminist Network
- Shiree Teng, a former LRS member, now part of FRSO-aligned consultancy firm RoadMap
- Mei-ying Williams, a veteran of the 2004 Venceremos Brigade to Cuba and a one-time member of the Ad-Hoc Left Committee, alongside FRSO members Michelle Foy and Tim Thomas and Northern California Communist Party USA leader Juan Lopez.
Williams’s husband, Steve Williams, was once affiliated with Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM) with Obama’s short-lived green jobs czar Van Jones. Steve Williams now leads an FRSO spin-off activist group, LeftRoots, the groundwork for which was partially funded by Phillips and Susan Sandler. Rockwood program director Lauren Veasey also serves on the board of Phillips’s PowerPAC+.
Rockwood runs annual year-long training courses for about two dozen radical activists every year.
Gillum was in the 2012 cohort alongside former STORM member Cindy Wiesner.
Other notable alumni include Washington congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (2010) and Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (2006), whose ex-husband, S. Donald Sussman, made a fortune investing in Chinese companies and has served on the Democracy Alliance board.
FRSO member Jon Liss trained with Rockwood in 2010. He is executive director of New Virginia Majority (NVM), a well-funded voter registration group dedicated to signing up several hundred thousand new “voters of color.” NVM uses highly specific maps to micro-target potential Democratic voters. These maps come from FRSO supporter Steve McClure, who has worked for the last several years in the Geography Department of Wuhan University in China.
NVM co-executive director Tram Nguyen serves on the advisory board of the Sandler Phillips Center, which offers “rigorous research and analysis, strategic investments, and collaborative opportunities to improve the effectiveness of progressive politics and enhance the return on investment of political giving.”
NVM has also worked with Virginia’s former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe to restore voting privileges to 200,000 former felons. Virginia—once a reliably conservative state—is now close to turning solidly blue thanks to the NVM.
New Florida Majority
Miami-based New Florida Majority (NFM) is modeled directly on its Virginia counterpart and is a major force in voter registration efforts among Florida’s black and Latino communities. Like NVM, most of its leadership are FRSO or Rockwood affiliated.
Founding executive director Gihan Perera (now with the Ford Foundation) studied with Rockwood in 2005 and was a founder of the FRSO front group Right to the City Alliance.
Current executive director Andrea Cristina Mercado studied with Rockwood in 2013 and previously worked for the heavily FRSO-influenced National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Former NFM Political and Alliance Officer Badili Jones is one of the very few non-secret FRSO members.
NFM has been involved with Gillum since at least April 2017 and formally endorsed his candidacy in June this year.
Gillum issued a statement thanking the organization: “I’m honored to receive New Florida Majority’s endorsement! They’re on the front lines of taking back our state for working people, and I’m proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in fighting for our families, jobs with living wages and dignity, a thriving public education system that pays teachers what they’re worth, and quality, affordable health care as a constitutional right for every Floridian.”
NFM takes a lot of well-justified credit for Gillum’s shock primary victory. According to the NFM website:
“In response to the Florida primary results, Andrea Cristina Mercado, director of the NewFM’s state PAC, the New Florida Vision PAC comments, ‘Tonight we see the remaking of the Florida Democratic Party by Andrew Gillum. Gillum won against all odds and he did it by giving often ignored voters’ clear transformative solutions that inspired them to get involved.’
“New Florida Vision PAC set out to expand the electorate by reaching out to Black and Latino voters categorized as ‘infrequent’ voters and subsequently often ignored by electoral campaigns. The PAC performed doorknocking, phone and text, radio and digital ads, and non-traditional tactics like a Colombian-style Chiva party bus, barbeques, taco Tuesdays, karaoke, and murals in the Wynwood and Liberty City neighborhoods to connect with target voters. Within the 150,000 voters targeted by the New Florida Vision PAC, there was a 300% increase in early voting in 2018, not including election day, compared to the 2014 midterm and at least a 20% increase from the Presidential election of 2016.”
NFM’s sister organization Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) harvests votes from Florida’s large immigrant communities. FLIC, who recently made the news for going on a hunger strike for illegal immigrants being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), came out for Gillum in its first endorsement this election cycle.
“FLIC Votes joins the growing momentum towards victory, not just for Andrew Gillum as the most likely governor representing the interest of all the people, but for the energizing impact his candidacy will have with disenchanted voters to come out and revive our ailing democracy for the benefit of all Floridians,” wrote Maria Rodriguez (Rockwood Leadership Institute class of 2009, affiliated with FRSO), executive director of FLIC’s political action committee (PAC) FLIC Votes.
Gillum replied: “In 2018, immigrants are under attack, and they need a Governor to stand in the gap for them. I’m deeply honored to receive the endorsement of FLIC Votes in our race to take back Florida and make it a place where everyone is welcome—no matter what they look like.
“I’m running for Governor to help every Florida family have access to the same opportunities my siblings and I had, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition will be an integral partner in that fight when I’m Governor.”
Like their counterpart NVM, NFM and FLIC also want to restore felons’ voting privileges immediately (current Florida law gives felons the opportunity to apply for a restoration of their voting privileges after being crime-free for five years). Both organizations are backing the “Second Chances” campaign and Florida ballot measure “Amendment 4,” which would expedite restored voting rights to a claimed 1.4 million Florida felons.
“Gillum has also expressed enthusiastic support for the Second Chances campaign, which would restore the right to vote to over 1.4 million Floridians who have been disenfranchised due to prior felony convictions,” states FLIC’s endorsement statement. “Gillum understands the importance of this campaign on a personal level, as his own brothers are returning citizens who would benefit from Second Chances.”
NFM, FLIC, and Gillum seemingly understand that an extra several hundred thousand likely Democratic voters will provide an enormous advantage to Democratic candidates and will be a leap toward the goal of turning Florida blue, a goal already accomplished in Virginia by the NVM. A “blue” Florida will have huge implications in future presidential elections.
The day before his stunning Florida primary victory, Gillum spent time in Miami with two of his biggest fans: Laura Estefania Muñoz Quiñones and Tomas Kennedy. Quinones is a FLIC activist and Miami Democratic Socialists of America steering committee member. Kennedy is a former NFM leader and an FRSO affiliate and serves as deputy political director of FLIC. He is also co-chair of the Miami Democratic Socialists of America steering committee and was chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Progressive Caucus.
These two comrades encapsulate the Gillum coalition.
Not a Socialist?
Republican gubernatorial candidate DeSantis has accused Gillum of being a socialist. Gillum denies it. He says he’s a “progressive Democrat.” The truth is that Gillum has been financed, trained, and supported his entire political career by Maoist-leaning pro-China radicals.
Gillum was funded and guided in his “Rainbow Coalition” strategies by “former” Maoist Phillips.
He was trained in activist principles by the FRSO/Maoist-affiliated Rockwood Leadership Institute.
His come-from-behind victory can be directly attributed to the massive “minority” voter registration drives carried out by FRSO-affiliated NFM and the FLIC.
Classical Maoism is all about manipulating minorities to achieve political power. In China, they did it with propaganda and guns. In America, they’re doing it with propaganda and “minority” voter registration drives.
Either way, the end result will be the same.
If Florida conservatives do not turn out large numbers, Florida will have its first “Maoist” governor come November.
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.