A coalition of left-wing TikTok users claiming to be an “advocacy” non-profit is advised by a long-time Democratic communications operative, according to a records review conducted by the Daily Caller.
Gen-Z for Change, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, enlisted communications consultant and two-time Democratic presidential campaign staffer Madeline Twomey as its senior advisor and founding board member, according to the organization’s website. Twomey was employed on Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as Community Content Director, and served as an Advertising Budget Manager on Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign. In addition, she has worked for Bully Pulpit Interactive and Priorities USA, two major pro-Democrat consulting firms, according to her LinkedIn page.
Twomey took credit for “coaching” the consortium of influencers on “how to talk about why they support Joe [Biden]” during the 2020 campaign, in an interview with the Social Media & Politics podcast. Twomey explained that many of the influencers had “never talked” about politics on their profile before.
“It was really walking them through what we were looking for. And for us, talking about Biden was really important,” she said. “A lot of the time it was coaching them through how to talk about why they support Joe … It was really coaching them through how to talk about these issues that they had never talked about on their profile.” (RELATED: Meet ‘Libs Of TikTok,’ The Twitter Account That’s Exposing The Most Insane People On The Internet)
Twomey has a years-long connection to the Biden staffer who first reached out to the head of Gen-Z for Change, back when the coalition went by the name “TikTok for Biden.” Biden campaign Digital Director and current White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty reportedly contacted 18-year-old Aidan Kohn-Murphy to “discuss TikTok for Biden’s work” in the lead up to the 2020 election, according to Politico.
Flaherty joined Biden for President in Dec. 2019, and Twomey joined the campaign three months before election day.
Twomey and Flaherty overlapped at Priorities USA, a left-wing advocacy organization, and the Biden for President campaign. Twomey was the Director of Training and Fellowship at the organization between November 2017 and December 2018, according to LinkedIn. Flaherty worked at Priorities USA as a creative director between April 2017 and January 2019, according to LinkedIn.
Priorities USA Action, Priorities USA’s affiliated political action committee, spent more than $138 million during the 2020 election cycle, according to FEC filings. Priorities USA Action received more than $27 million in funds from Priorities USA. (RELATED: 2020 Democrats Privately Woo Wall Street While Publicly Snubbing Corporate Cash)
Priorities USA is currently registered with the FEC as a single candidate hybrid committee, with Biden as the single candidate.
Gen-Z for Change also brought on senior advisor Daniel Daks, the CEO of Palette Management, alongside Twomey. Palette Management’s website lists Gen-Z for Change as a client, as well as several other TikTok stars known for their support of left-wing political causes.
The TikTok influencers purport to be an advocacy group, not just promoters of the Democratic Party’s agenda. However, there appears to be a disconnect between what Gen-Z for Change claims to be and what it actually does.
Gen-Z for Change’s leadership claims to use the TikTok platform to keep “power away from traditional gatekeepers,” while hosting information and sourcing events with individuals in the top echelons of political power.
In July 2021, Gen-Z for Change co-hosted a question-and-answer session about the COVID-19 vaccine with Dr. Anthony Fauci on YouTube. In November, the organization facilitated a briefing between influencers and White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield about the administration’s Build Back Better plan, according to Politico.
Olivia Julianna, the organization’s political strategy coordinator, has also boasted about talking with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Gen-Z for Change self-identifies and has been described by several national media outlets, including The Washington Post, Politico, and The Wall Street Journal as a 501(c)(4). However, since the group only incorporated in August 2021, it is not legally required to make public a form declaring its tax-exempt status until January 2023. To qualify as a 501(c)(4), the IRS requires that the group “an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare.” The IRS goes on to explain that to meet the “social welfare requirement” the charity may not primarily benefit a private group rather than the community at large.
Gen-Z for Change told the Daily Caller that it has not yet filed its tax-exempt status declaration return form, known as a 990, citing its recent incorporation.
In the last year, we’ve mobilized Gen-Z voters, resisted injustice across the globe, and overall caused good trouble for those seeking to be oppressive.
We are young. We are bold. We are Gen-Z for Change. pic.twitter.com/wzVe0d8cBz
— Gen-Z for Change (@genzforchange) March 18, 2022
An Employer Identification Number listed on the Gen-Z for Change website did not match any organizations in a publicly available database of tax-exempt organizations compiled by the Internal Revenue Service. The database also did not include tax-exempt status application materials. Tax-exempt organizations are legally required to provide tax-exempt status application materials to requesting individuals if they have applied for it, suggesting that Gen-Z for Change has not filed for federal tax-exempt status.
Ken Braun, a senior investigative researcher with the conservative-leaning Capital Research Center, told the Daily Caller that a “very political organization” such as “TikTok for Biden” rebranding into a “slightly less political [501(c)(4)]” appeared “fishy” to him.
The two Gen-Z for Change advisers named in this story did not respond to multiple requests for comment and documents from the Daily Caller.
A spokesperson for Gen-Z for Change said that the organization has “not been paid by the Biden administration, campaigns, or public officials for any efforts.”
“We are an independent 501(c)(4) organization that creates content based on our coalition’s values — sometimes that aligns with the Biden administration, sometimes it does not,” the spokesperson said.