MoveOn.org Loses Top Organizer Daniel Mintz In Major Shakeup

12/14/2012 01:02 pm ET | Updated Dec 14, 2012
  • Amanda Terkel Senior Political Reporter, The Huffington Post
  • Ryan Grim Washington Bureau Chief, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- MoveOn.org's lead campaigner is departing the organization as the influential progressive group undergoes a major strategic reorientation away from national politics.

Daniel Mintz has been with MoveOn for seven years, and he is currently serving as the group's national director of coordinated campaigns. Mintz is one of the most high-profile and influential staffers at the organization -- his name often greets MoveOn members when they open their inboxes and see new petitions to sign.

On Thursday, Mintz sent an email announcing that he was leaving the group, in part due to MoveOn's reorganization.

"I've been working for the last few years on how to build progressives' power for the most important national fights, and MoveOn has been a wonderful home from which to pursue that goal," he wrote, pointedly referencing "national" in his note. "Now MoveOn is making a strategic shift--concentrating on helping members lead their own campaigns -- which you can read about here. And I'm eager to see the fruits of their efforts, because I think the vision they're pursuing is both promising and under-explored."

"That said," he added, "the new vision is fundamentally different from the one that interests me most, so ... I'll figure out what's next -- where best to continue pursuing my vision for making the country a more progressive place."

MoveOn recently announced that it was dramatically redirecting its approach to politics, placing less emphasis on what's known in Washington as the inside game. The company said it would instead cede large elements of its strategic planning directly to its more than 7 million members.

MoveOn head Justin Ruben told The Huffington Post last week that some top staffers who disagreed with the new strategy would be leaving the organization, though he declined at the time to discuss Mintz's future.

Advocates of the company's radical new approach hope that it will exponentially increase MoveOn's power by harnessing the energy and talent of its activist base, allowing the group to break free of Washington dogma and discover new ways to effect change.

Critics worry that MoveOn's decision is a consequence of failed leadership and irresponsibly relinquishes much of its power in Washington, creating a vacuum which no obvious progressive organization can move to fill. Most of the criticism so far has come anonymously and has been aimed squarely at Ruben, owing in part to the past generosity MoveOn has shown in helping smaller organizations grow their lists.

"Daniel is the full package -- a smart campaigner, a dedicated progressive, and a skilled analyst of online metrics, from whom many in the netroots have learned important lessons," said Ilyse Hogue, a former top official at MoveOn. "While I know MoveOn members will miss him, I look forward to seeing the great things he will go on to do in the name of progressive political power."

Ruben similarly praised Mintz's contributions in an emailed statement to HuffPost. "Daniel's obviously a key leader in the progressive movement, he's done great work on behalf of MoveOn members, and we wish him the best," he wrote.

Roughly 15 people are expected to leave MoveOn as a result of the reorganization, either through layoffs or voluntary departures. Ruben is removing himself from day-to-day operational control and will become board president. Anna Galland will take over as executive director in January. MoveOn's political action committee will be shutting down in 2013, but Ruben insisted it will pick back up next election year.

MoveOn didn't return a request for additional comment.

This story was updated to include comment from Hogue

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