Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Beware The Emails From Political Scam Artists-- On Both Sides Of The Aisle


Are you ready for the frenzy? The end-of-the-year DCCC e-mail craziness has already begun-- and not just from the rancid organization itself, but from it's rancid candidates, its rancid allies and it's rancid front groups like the toxic twins, "Progressive Turnout Project" and "End Citizens United," self-enrichment schemes for corrupt ex-DCCC staff, particularly the crooked DCCC hacks at Mothership Strategies Greg Berlin, Jake Lipsett, and Charles Starnes. On their website they boast of having made the notorious online scam operation for right-wing Democrats, End Citizens United "one of the most powerful voices in Democratic politics in 2016. What started as just an online presence is now poised to make a major impact in the 2016 Election."

EndCitizensUnited alone has sucked over $5 million dollars out of grassroots progressives who are unaware that their money is going straight into the pockets of self-serving profiteers and-- if there's anything left over-- to anti-progressive candidates posing as real Democrats. One of the most successful and sought after Democratic political operatives, who knows Mothership well, told us this morning that the firm "is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the Beltway. A few hacks who think their cozy relationships with equally lackluster staffers at the party institutions makes them political geniues, is how one would describe most any firm in DC. The good online firms-- like Revolution, which is doing Bernie's campaign-- actually use their intelligence and creativity to inspire people to donate and become engaged. The rest just use their relationships to cut corners so they don't have to do any hard work. All the while, they diminish the returns from grassroots campaign activities for actual progressive candidates."

Last April, just before Motherships' EndCitizenUnited scam was causing concern among progressives nationally, Michael Whitney, a reputable progressive strategist penned a related article about the DCCC and DSCC for The Nation, Why Are Political Groups Pretending To Be Debt Collectors?. He wrote that he "was in charge of e-mail advocacy for the blog Firedoglake, and it was part of my job to get people to open e-mails, sign petitions, and make donations to support our work. I thought using 'Final notice' would get more people to notice the pitch, which began 'This is your final notice to sign our emergency petition to progressive Members of Congress…'
Unfortunately, it appears I was among the first in the political advocacy world to employ that deception, and today the tactic is increasingly common. Recently, I woke up to an e-mail from an address that began FINAL-NOTICE, and the subject line was “AUTO-CONFIRM: [M. Whitney (3/31/2015)].” It wasn’t from my bank, but rather the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The DCCC and the House Majority PAC (a group also working to elect Democrats to Congress) are probably the two biggest offenders when it comes to faux-debt collection fundraising pitches, but they are not alone. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee also sends similar e-mails, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Republican party, and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund have all tried it in the recent past.

...I get that political e-mail fundraising has taken on an even more frenzied, gimmicky, and desperate approach than ever before, as the need for cash becomes increasingly important in politics, and as more and more campaigns are competing for inbox attention.

But these pitches are different, and dangerous. They bank on fear: that the recipient missed a payment; that they’re behind on bills; that their power will be cut.

Most e-mails in this genre follow a similar formula. They feature phrases like “NOTICE: [CANCELLATION]” and “FINAL NOTICE.” Some might use an official-sounding beginning of an e-mail address (like SECOND.NOTICE@, or accounting-dept@). In the body of the e-mail there is sometimes more deceptive language, like “you are officially on notice” or “imminent cancellation.”

...I have to wonder if even a moment of panic that something is wrong with your personal finances is irresponsible-- and even predatory-- especially in times of financial malaise.

People struggling with debt are at least twice as likely to have mental health problems, including 29 percent of people with “high stress debt” who have severe anxiety, according to a study from the University of Nottingham. Seeing an e-mail screaming “on notice” or “imminent cancellation” could be an anxiety-provoking event for some people. Anyone who has struggled to pay the bills, even temporarily, knows the dread of opening the mail to find increasingly urgent notices from banks, utility companies, or student lenders.

...This is something fundraising professionals ought to consider going forward. The increased volume of e-mail that people receive has dramatically grown a culture of “optimization,” in the industry, which means making tweaks and changes to e-mails that can see a lift in fundraising numbers even if by a few percentage points. These changes can include different color buttons, mobile-friendly e-mail wrappers, or bigger fonts. Debt-scare e-mails probably achieve a decent bump too, but at what cost?

Aside from potentially turning off recipients, there could be political consequences as well. The College Republicans caught heat in 2004 for a deceptive direct mail program that asked senior citizens to donate to “Republican Headquarters,” while failing to mention aside from a small font at the bottom of a letter that the college group wasn’t affiliated with the actual Republican party.

There hasn’t yet been similar blowback to phony debt collection pitches-- not yet anyway. Maybe it’s coming. But for me, it’s a line that I crossed once, and that I will never cross again.
He wrote that 8 months ago. And there has been tremendous blowback, not just for organizations like the DCCC but also for the scam front groups they set up like "EndCitizensUnited" and "Progressive Turnout Project," which works-- as far as it works at all-- to elect Schumercrats like Patrick Murphy, Tammy Duckworth, Ann Kirkpatrick to the Senate-- and craven right-wing New Dems and Blue Dogs like Kyrsten Sinema, Ann Kuster, Brad Schneider, Cheri Bustos, Ami Bera, and Pete Aguilar. They sprinkle in a few names of recognizable progressives like Russ Feingold and Carol Shea-Porter to hoodwink into casual readers into thinking it's a progressive list. Almost all the incumbents on it are dreadful with excruciating records of supporting the Republican agenda.

So what should a good fundraising e-mail look like? Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren send them out all the time. They're rational, entertaining and informative and I'm always happy when I see first-time candidates-- like Alex Law in New Jersey-- using them as models, instead of the Steve Israel models that turn people off so badly and "burn the lists," very much Israel's intention. Today though, I received a fundraising e-mail from Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore, not for herself, but for her Maryland colleague, Donna Edwards. It was very effective, getting right to some salient points about why Edwards merits serious consideration: "It's been 23 years since the first and only African American woman was elected to the United States Senate... You're saying that it's time to have another woman in the Senate who understands what it's like to to fight for pay for equal work. Not because she read about it, but because she's lived it as a woman of color in the workplace. Donna's ready to take on the old boys' club, establishment, and special interests... I've worked closely with Donna to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, tackle income inequality, and stand up to the special interests that try to dismantle the middle class and hurt our most vulnerable. And now she's ready to take that fight to the Senate and continue the legacy of women's leadership and progressive spirit that Sen. Mikulski's built in Maryland." If you feel at all inspired and want your contribution to be meaningful, send it directly to Donna's campaign, not the the scam artists and Schumercrats from the DSCC!

Goal Thermometer


There probably are few campaigns as inherently dishonest and manipulative as "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy's attempt to defeat Alan Grayson in the Florida Democratic primary. And, predictably, his barrage of e-mails has every bad trait that's ever been invented to deceive and cheat. This morning a friend of mine, "Peter," forwarded me an e-mail he got from Schumercrat Patrick Murphy with his own note: "The old matching program bullshit. Tells you what kind of Senator he'd be if he deceives like this for money in the campaign."

We have a chance, Peter.

The National Journal ranked Marco Rubio’s Senate seat fourth as one of the most likely to flip parties in 2016.

That means we have a chance to grab it,  but this race is competitive. We cannot afford to miss one fundraising goal and we have our last end-of-quarter goal in 24 hours.

This is our most important goal of the year-- and, right now-- we’re behind. We’ve started a matching program for our most active supporters.

Peter-- you’ve qualified for our matching program. But this offer won’t last for long. If you give before midnight on the 31st, your gift will be doubled and so will your impact.

Can you give $5 or more before 12/31? Your gift will be matched.

I know the holidays aren’t over, and this is probably still a busy time for you. But we’ve already had a glimpse of what conservative special interest groups are plotting for next year, and it isn’t pretty.

Before the National Journal list even came out, a SuperPAC decided to attack me with a video distorting my record and cheaply attempting to play upon Americans’ fear of terrorism.

They’ll try anything to get ahead and make sure Democrats don’t regain majority control of the Senate.

The only way to silence them is with grassroots support like yours. I need you to maximize your impact by giving what you can today. We’ll double your donation to make sure we keep momentum on our side.

Thank you,


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At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been getting those idiotic threatening emails that it is my last chance to help the progressive cause. They are deleted before I even take the time to read them. Kind of like the guy who called me to tell me the IRS had filed a lawsuit against me.

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the best endorsement ov those pacs I havd seen.


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