John Pudner Executive Director
John Pudner’s testimony leading to an unheard of unanimous Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision establishing the right of voters to know who is paying for Facebook political ads resulted from a lifetime of building broad coalitions while adhering to conservative principles. Pudner was the eldest of 9 children growing up in a 3 bedroom house in inner city Richmond, VA where he attended a conservative, Catholic high school whose alumni included Steve Bannon. The five blocks on his newspaper route included that church, the Jewish synagogue where his family voted, Pudner’s house, the first block on predominantly African-American neighborhoods, and the center of Richmond’s gay community.
Now the father of 9 children, John Pudner learned at a young age the importance of timing, negotiating and diplomacy. More importantly, he learned how to live on a shoe-string budget. Those early life lessons helped put him on the national political scene when in the 2014 primaries, he jump-started the campaign of Dave Brat, who would ultimately unseat U.S. Majority Leader Eric Cantor in one of the most unprecedented upsets in political history. Later in the general election of the same year, he would help defeat a 32-year incumbent state senator in Alabama’s general election. He managed campaigns for almost three decades. His now-famous strategy of outsmarting instead of outspending the opposition was born out of a hobby of extrapolating statistical data on sports teams. With an affinity for numbers and grassroots initiatives, John became known as the go-to-guy to help upstart candidates that didn’t have the financial backing needed to play in the political sandbox. During his career, he won 3 out of every 4 races and ran an effort to reach 14 million Catholic and Socially Conservative Christians in 16 states for Bush 2000, and winning 16 of 21 state Republican nomination conventions in Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Iowa. John’s corporate successes included turning out hundreds of residents to numerous zoning hearings to stop big-money developers from overrunning small businesses and residents by violating local ordinances.
But through all his successes, John Pudner saw firsthand the influence of money on politics—the manipulation of the system and the loopholes that didn’t favor a transparent election— one in which only select major corporate donors and union bosses were the true winners. With a desire to now reform the system instead of circumventing it, John Pudner now leads this team of ex-political wonks to help change the very industry in which they once thrived.