The Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, reported on May 2, on an upstart "centrist" advocacy (read: lobbying) group known as "Third Way." The group's co-founders, Matt Bennett, Jonathan Cowan, and Jim Kessler should be familiar to readers of the Grassroots Alert. All previously worked for "Americans For Gun Safety" (AGS), an organization that was founded in 2000 under the guise that it too would be a "centrist" group on gun issues.
A little more background on each may give those who believe they are centrists a bit of pause (at least on gun issues). Matt Bennett was a former Clinton White House aide. Former AGS President Jonathan Cowan served as former Clinton HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo's right hand man when the secretary was actively promoting lawsuits against the gun industry. Conspicuous on Jim Kessler's résumé was a stint as Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) gun adviser. Hardly "centrist" credentials. (AGS's founder, Monster.com founder and billionaire Andrew McKelvey is a former board member of HCI [now the Brady Center], who apparently became disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of HCI and thus formed AGS.)
Of course, the facade that AGS was somehow moderate was quickly shattered. The group supports an extension of the Clinton gun ban and legislation that would end gun shows as we know them. And according to materials distributed at an early AGS organizational meeting, its "top national priority" is "passage of licensing and/or registration..."--a position, to our knowledge, it has yet to repudiate.
AGS has also worked through the years to expand its base by affiliating not with "centrist" groups, but with radical anti-gun groups at the state and local levels. In fact, many of the groups that affiliated with AGS are longtime HCI affiliates: "Remove any guns from your home" (Women Against Gun Violence); "The second amendment of the United States Constitution has nothing to do whatsoever with personal use of firearms" (Citizens of Arizona to Prevent Gun Violence); and "The best way to protect your family is not to keep a gun in the home" (Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence).
Then, on May 4, Third Way's VP for Public Affairs, Matt Bennett, wrote a letter to the editors at Roll Call to set the record straight, noting in fact, the group doesn't profess to be a centrist organization. Bennett's letter states, "...Third Way is a nonpartisan advocacy group. Our mission is to promote and strengthen the progressive cause..."
Those who choose to align themselves with Third Way should bear in mind the co-founders' previous place of employment before turning to them for assistance with issues relating to our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.