Bernie Sanders waves as he arrives at the Iowa Brown & Black Forum on January 11, 2016, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The forum, which also included Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, addresses concerns of African-Americans and Latinos. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- MoveOn.org endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for president Tuesday, saying a record 78.6 percent of its 340,000 members who voted online chose Sanders, with 14.6 percent choosing Hillary Clinton and 0.9 percent Martin O'Malley.
"This is a massive vote in favor of Bernie Sanders, showing that grassroots progressives across the country are excited and inspired by his message and track record of standing up to big money and corporate interests to reclaim our democracy for the American people," Executive Director Ilya Sheyman said in a statement. "MoveOn members are feeling the Bern. We will mobilize aggressively to add our collective people power to the growing movement behind the Sanders campaign, starting with a focus on voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire."
MoveOn.org was founded in 1998 during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. It began as an email group working to get signatures on a petition to get Congress to censure Clinton and "move on."
MoveOn.org says it now has 8 million members, and said Tuesday it will mobilize 75,000 of those members to campaign for Sanders in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
"I'm proud to have MoveOn and its community of millions of members join our people-powered campaign," said Sanders. "MoveOn has spent more than 17 years bringing people together to fight for progressive change and stand up against big money interests. MoveOn's fight to give the American people a voice in our political system was reflected in the group's internal democratic process. I'm humbled by their support and welcome MoveOn's members to the political revolution."
In 2008, MoveOn.org endorsed President Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. The group's endorsement of Sanders this year was therefore not unexpected.
The news comes days after Hillary Clinton garnered the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Sunday. It marks the first time ever that the organization has endorsed a candidate in a presidential primary. CNN reported the group plans to spend $20 million this election cycle.
The controversial endorsement prompted backlash on social media, with many commenters on the Planned Parenthood Facebook page criticizing the organization for not endorsing Sanders. Several also pointed out that Clinton's Iowa communications director, Lily Adams, is the daughter of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. The Washington Post reported Adams joined the Clinton camp in March.
Both Sanders and Clinton received perfect 100 scores from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. NARAL endorsed Clinton last week.