Who’s Behind Clear Choice? Big Tech, Big Biden, and a Bald Attempt to Derail Kennedy

Who’s Behind Clear Choice? Big Tech, Big Biden, and a Bald Attempt to Derail Kennedy
Liam Sturgess | June 13, 2024

By Liam Sturgess, Investigative Reporter, The Kennedy Beacon

On June 5, The News & Observer

On June 6, Clear Choice filed a complaint with the New York Board of Elections alleging that Kennedy does not reside at the address listed on his paperwork, as reported by The New York Times, which also notes that Kennedy’s driver’s license, automobile registration, and voter registration do list that New York address. This complaint was swiftly followed by a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court against the candidate, per USA Today, alleging that 115,000 of the 146,135 signatures gathered to get Kennedy on the ballot are invalid.

While only 45,000 signatures are required to meet the state’s eligibility requirements, the Kennedy campaign submitted triple that number in anticipation of challenges over some portion of the signatures. As noted by Leah Watson, Kennedy’s opponents had just nine days to identify at least 90,519 invalid signatures – a strikingly high threshold to meet.

The suit also alleges that campaign workers improperly gathered signatures; however, as reported in The Kennedy Beacon, those workers were outed as third-party saboteurs who were quickly discovered by the campaign, fired, and their petitions disposed of. The plaintiffs, Elaine Portuondo Smith and Andrena Wyatt, both served as delegates for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

This pair of complaints is just the latest in a series of efforts led by the Democratic National Committee (DNC)’s anti-independent and anti-third-party task force. As previously reported by The Kennedy Beacon, the DNC is coordinating with a “constellation of outside groups” led by Third Way to “stockpile money and stymie third parties.” The stated purpose of this campaign is to “neutralize Kennedy’s third-party threat to President Joe Biden’s reelection” by pushing negative headlines in the media, according to Politico, and filing frivolous lawsuits to distract the campaign and drain its resources.

Who’s behind Clear Choice, and what is their motivation for preventing Kennedy from participating in the 2024 election?

Another Arm of the Machine

Clear Choice consists of two organizations, Clear Choice PAC and Clear Choice Action. Both entities were founded in February 2024 by Pete Kavanaugh, described by The Washington Post as a political strategist who was deputy campaign manager for Biden’s 2020 run. Clear Choice was launched as “another arm in the unfurling Democratic-aligned machine” with a focus on opposition research and propaganda. Kavanaugh told the Post that the group would “push storylines in the media aimed at dissuading voters” from supporting Kennedy, West, or the No Labels party.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings reveal that since its launch just a few months ago, Clear Choice PAC has been funded by just two donors, both of whom are major players in liberal politics: Reid Hoffman and Ron Conway.

Hoffman is co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn and a member of the infamous “PayPal Mafia,” as noted by Business Insider, credited with helping shape the modern Silicon Valley. He has also played a significant role in funding pro-Biden efforts; in January 2024, Reuters named the “billionaire Democratic megadonor” as the primary financier behind Third Way’s anti-third-party campaign, to the tune of at least $1 million. Hoffman previously bankrolled Indivisible’s “Truth Brigade” project to “purge conservative disinformation from social media,” as reported by The Washington Free Beacon. As highlighted by The Daily Caller, Hoffman was among the select list of billionaires confirmed to have visited Little Saint James, the private island owned by notorious child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

Ron Conway runs SV Angel, a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Conway was an early investor in Big Tech giants Facebook and Google, as highlighted by The Wall Street Journal, both of which are being sued by Kennedy for censoring and removing his content under coercion by the Biden administration. SV Angel’s portfolio includes DoorDash and Instacart, which exploded in popularity due to COVID-related lockdown policies, as reported by Bloomberg. Conway was a member of the COVID-19 Technology Task Force, founded in March 2020 as the contact point between Big Tech and the government to coordinate the country’s pandemic response.

Clear Choice Action does not disclose its donors.

Pete Kavanaugh, DNC Operative

According to Clear Choice founder Pete Kavanaugh’s LinkedIn profile, he was a principal at Hilltop Public Solutions from 2009 to 2011. He briefly left the firm in September 2011 to work as New Hampshire director of Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, before returning to Hilltop in January 2013 as a partner. He then served as a senior advisor in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. During Kavanaugh’s tenure, Hilltop’s clientele included (per OpenSecrets) the DNC, the Obama and Clinton campaigns, and multiple state branches of the Democratic Party, as well as American Bridge 21st Century, another member of the DNC/Third Way “constellation.”

Kavanaugh founded a political consulting firm called Highbury Strategies in February 2021. Highbury claims on its website to “work with a small handful of partners,” though a search of FEC data reveals just a single client since the firm’s founding: the Democratic National Committee. Kavanaugh is also a partner at Revolution Field Strategies, which lists the DNC and Biden’s 2020 campaign as recent partners, along with the Progressive Turnout Project, previously profiled in The Kennedy Beacon. In late 2021, Kavanaugh co-founded Optimize, a firm which provides human resources services for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and US Representative Ilhan Omar, among others.

Clear Choice Staff

Ashton Narzisi, Clear Choice’s treasurer, is a compliance manager for Blue Wave Political Partners, according to her LinkedIn profile. Blue Wave is a national political consulting firm that also worked for Biden’s 2020 campaign. Its client list includes Everytown for Gun Safety, whose leadership also founded Third Way; the Biden Victory Fund, which The Kennedy Beacon previously identified as the DNC’s largest single donor; and Future Forward USA, which Politico described as the “flagship pro-Biden super PAC.” Another notable client is the North Carolina Democratic Party, suggesting that Clear Choice’s text messaging campaign may be more directly tied to the party than previously reported.

Harrell Kirstein, identified by The News & Observer as a consultant for Clear Choice Action, previously worked as communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. He also worked in lead communications roles for the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns, before becoming communications director of the Trump War Room at American Bridge 21st Century. The News & Observer article also identifies Jessica Post as a director of Clear Choice Action, pointing to a now scrubbed biography on the website of Civitas Public Affairs Group, where she is a principal. Post did not reply by press time to a request for confirmation of her role with Clear Choice.

While the pair of complaints against Kennedy’s presidential run risks rocking the boat for his campaign in the short term, it is unlikely that either will be successful at preventing the independent candidate from appearing on the ballot in North Carolina and New York.

Liam Sturgess is an investigative reporter for The Kennedy Beacon. He is also a writer for the Canadian Covid Care Alliance and founder of White Rose Intelligence. He was the founding co-host and producer of the Rounding the Earth podcast, and publishes a Substack series called Microjourneys.

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