Friday, November 10, 2017

Sometimes There Are Ways To Vet A Candidate Without Asking If They Support Medicare-For-All


There's a progressive organization this cycle that was-- they are no longer-- forcing candidates to sign a contract that stipulated, among other things, that the candidate would instruct ActBlue to send all their contributions not to the candidate's own bank account but to the organization's bank account. The organization would keep 95% of the funds and send 5% to the candidate. Eventually the candidates said, collectively, "Duh! This isn't fair"-- and forced the organization to change the deal. The new deal left the organization with 65% and the candidates with 35%. In return for the 95% or 65% the organization was supposed to run the candidate's campaign. The candidates I discussed it with said they did virtually nothing of value at all.

They sounded like scam artists you would expect from religious right hucksters or from Republicans, maybe from EMILY's List, but not from progressive Democrats. Eventually I spoke to the guy who founded the organization and he said they weren't scam artists and, in any case, they had stopped ripping off the candidates. But while they still were it was a convenient way for me to look at artists and say no one stupid enough to read that contract and sign it would make a good member of Congress. A handy tool for vetting, right?

Another handy tool has to do with ActBlue itself. ActBlue started around the same time Blue America did. Tact Blue's function is to provide the infrastructure for candidates and groups like Blue America to raise funds for candidates. They're facilitated the raising of $1.89 BILLION for Democratic candidates and organizations.

Almost all candidates start out as novices. They hire consultants and staffers who are supposed to know something that will help them get elected. Another vetting tool we use is whether or not they can figure out how to use ActBlue. If they can't figure out how to use ActBlue, they;'re not going to be able to figure out how to get from their office to their seat in Congress. And we tell 'em-- register with ActBlue. "My campaign manager," I occasionally hear, "wants to use another service instead," Depending on my mood, I may tell them they have the wrong campaign manager and they have no chance to win if they keep him. More often I just say something to the effect, you can keep working with whoever your campaign manager wants to work with but if you don't also use ActBlue, many grassroots donors won't contribute to your campaign, because they trust ActBlue to not be a scam operation and they don't really know about the others who are trying to replicate what ActBlue does. But they're not ActBlue. ActBlue does not charge a fee. Legally they are required by the FEC to pass along a flat rate of 3.95% on each donation to cover credit card and bank processing cost. If they didn't pass that along it would be an in-kind donation. It's the only expense candidates ever incur working with ActBlue. No one is asked to sign a contract and, better yet, local school committee candidates use the same tools that Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama did. Their main source of income is from the small tips that donors can optionally leave when they make a contribution.

In the words of ActBlue's executive director, Erin Hill, "ActBlue is a nonprofit dedicated to building fundraising technology for Democratic campaigns, committees, and organizations. We believe that grassroots, people-powered campaigns are what we need for the future. That 1- raises more money; 2- connects campaigns with the folks they represent; and 3- provides a path for new voices to organize and build competitive campaigns." She issued this statement after the big wins Tuesday night.
All year, grassroots donors have been leading the Democratic Party by participating in special elections in unprecedented numbers, funding new groups that fight back in innovative ways, and expanding the map of candidates running for office. Small-dollar donors funded races in districts where Democrats haven’t contested for years. They also funded races where first-time candidates with diverse perspectives will now be setting policy as elected officials. Small-dollar donors fueled last night’s historic wins across the country.

For example, we were thrilled to see Democrats win big up and down the ballot in Virginia last night. Every Democrat who won in that state was an ActBlue user. It was truly a testament to the hard work of grassroots supporters who made over 220,000 donations on ActBlue this year to 335 candidates and groups at the state and local level in Virginia for this election. These extraordinary numbers are just a snapshot of the incredible energy we've seen sitewide this year, with small-dollar donors raising $413 million for 6,985 candidates and organizations from 13.5 million contributions in 2017 alone.

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At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first criteria in such vetting is finding out where they get their campaign money. All the rest is a leap of faith whether they are being truthful or not about their stated principles.
If they get DxCC money or Pelosi/scummer pac money or are self-funded, then their stated beliefs are 99.9999999% lies.
If they don't take money from those sources, the odds plummet to 50%.


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