A new Virginia-centric news outlet backed by a deep-pocketed progressive group ran scores of stories about Commonwealth politics this year, even as a separate entity run by the group’s chief executive raked in tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from Virginia Democrats.
In August, the Democratic Party of Virginia paid the firm Lockwood Strategy $150,000 for digital consulting and advertising, according to state campaign-finance records. The payments came about a month after the nonprofit group ACRONYM, run by Lockwood CEO and veteran Democratic digital operative Tara McGowan, announced its financial backing for The Dogwood, a Virginia-focused digital news venture that extensively covered Virginia politics leading up to the election with an editorial line consistently favoring state Democrats.
ACRONYM is no bit player. Rather, its political arm, a Democratic super PAC called PACRONYM, is planning a massive $75 million digital advertising campaign in the runup to the 2020 election targeting the swing states of Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. At the same time, Lockwood is staffing up a new local journalism venture in the same five states.