Politics

Pro-gun control YouTube ad funded by group with close ties to Obama

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The California Endowment has also worked to increase food stamp enrollment – a stated goal of the Obama administration – and to help in the allocation of stimulus money.

In December 2008, following Barack Obama’s election, the California Endowment launched an $8 million grant-making strategy “[t]o increase outreach and enrollment services for public benefit programs, including SNAP (Food Stamp Program),” and “[t]o help struggling communities hardest hit by the economic downturn access federal stimulus dollars,” among other goals.

The California Endowment has been a strong supporter of the Obamacare law.

Additionally, The California Endowment — cited as a “BuzzFeed partner” — published a December listicle on Buzzfeed subtitled, “Here are some surprising ways the new health care law can help you turn over a new leaf in 2013.” The nine-part listicle credits Obamacare for enabling “better local care,” among other rousing endorsements.

The California Endowment Twitter page promoted the Buzzfeed listicle with a Tweet stating, “More ways the health care law moves us fwd in ’13,” echoing Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan, “Forward.”

The California Endowment hired the powerful Washington, D.C. lobbying and consulting firm The Raben Group, headed by former Clinton administration attorney general Robert Raben, which also represents New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition also posted the Endowment’s “Demand a Plan” video to YouTube.

The Raben Group suggests that it helped influence the Obamacare law for the benefit of the Endowment’s interests.

“The California Endowment selected The Raben Group to serve as its presence in Washington.  Our goal was to help raise the profile of the Endowment and its grantees so that they could more effectively inform policy debates in the health and wellness arenas,” according to The Raben Group’s website.

“Our team helped the Endowment and its grantees provide research, data, expertise and experience to policymakers in Congress and the Obama Administration.  This positioning has afforded the Endowment the opportunity to inform the health care reform debate and help shape the contours of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to curb childhood obesity within a generation,” according to The Raben Group’s website.

“The final health reform bill made significant progress in two areas of particular interest to the Endowment:  disease prevention and care for children,” the site reads.

California Endowment CEO Ross appeared on a panel on black male achievement with progressive billionaire and major Obama supporter George Soros. The panel was hosted by Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

“Mr. Soros, what I want to say to you is the leadership of the Open Society Foundation, where I never would have believed that a major philanthropy would put robust, serious, significant investment in the future of young men of color…I just want to say that you and your board at Open Society Foundations did that, sir, and there are now more than 16 foundations around the country that are investing significantly in this population of young men, so that is a big round of applause for Open Society Foundations,” Ross told Soros, prompting the audience to applaud.

Ross made clear during his remarks at the event that The California Endowment is pleased when its advocacy efforts result in the passage of progressive legislation.

Ross described the Endowment’s funding for an advocacy strategy to combat zero-tolerance disciplinary policies in California’s schools.

“In less than eighteen months, those people had eight bills on the governor’s desk designed to reduce or eliminate school discipline and school pushout issues. He signed five of them last week,” Ross said to applause. “That was an effort led by young men and young women of color in the state of California, mostly teenagers.”