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Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Conservative Fundraising Plan I Can Get Behind

Guess what? The Republican National Committee's recent bondage-themed strip club scandal has the religious right up in arms. Who would've guessed? For the bluenoses, it seems the whole thing is a double-whammy; you've got an expenditure that borders on embezzlement and you've got boobs, lesbianism, whips, and chains.

Yeah, I guess it's not so surprising after all.

For their part, the party's fighting back. Unfortunately, they're doing it poorly. Andy Barr reports on an email that the RNC sent to Politico (and, you've got to assume, other news organizations) that points the finger at Democrats.

In hopes of redirecting incoming fire about its spending habits, the Republican National Committee on Wednesday tried to turn scrutiny to the spending habits of the Democratic National Committee but came up with nothing nearly as risque as almost $2,000 in expenses for a night out at a bondage club and on private planes.

It tallied up, instead, two years worth of catering, luxury hotels and limousine bills.


"The DNC spent at least $2,204,000 for luxury hotels and caterers," [RNC Communications Director Doug] Heye writes at the top of the e-mail.

Barr then summarizes the expenses for the reader and concludes, "The expenses are not outside the norm for a party committee -- nor, for that matter, is the vast majority of what the RNC spends." Of course, it's not the majority of the spending that's the RNC's problem, it's the booze-fueled stripper hootenanny part. And all of the DNC's spending is pretty normal. The RNC shoots for a competing scandal -- and doesn't even come close to scoring. The moral of this story: saying, "Your fly is open" -- then throwing a sucker punch -- doesn't always work.

I brought up the religious right, so I guess I ought to get around to expanding on that.


Tony PerkinsThe head of an influential social conservative organization urged supporters Wednesday to stop donating to the Republican National Committee and instead contribute to its own coffers or to candidates with like-minded goals.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made the plea in his "Washington Update" column posted on the organization's Web site following the revelation that the RNC paid for a night out at a risqué Hollywood nightclub.

"I've hinted at this before, but now I am saying it -- don't give money to the RNC," Perkins writes. "If you want to put money into the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who you know reflect your values. Better yet, become a member of FRC Action and learn about the benefits it offers, including participating in the FRC Action PAC which can support candidates who will advance faith, family and freedom! To find out more about becoming a member of FRC Action click here."

OK, so it's a sort of self-serving argument, but there's a truism for political non-profits; if you're not asking for money, you don't have money. That's why nearly every communication you get from an organization includes some sort of pitch. As a former fundraiser, I understand this and I don't hold Tony's beg against him. Also, as a liberal who's a former fundraiser, I say that people should totally do what Perkins suggests -- mostly because it's an incredibly dumb strategy.

Political parties have campaign committees for a reason. They deal with insane amounts of money, sure, but it is a limited amount. You don't want to blow all your ammo on races that are sure losers and races you'll win in a walk, you want to take that money and put it were it's most likely to make a difference. To do this, you need a centrally coordinated campaign.

The biggest drawback to Perkins' idea is that the areas that'll give the most to their congress critter are the areas that are least likely to need the money. The districts and states with the most religious nut money are almost certainly red, red, red. And giving outside your district means you're most likely to give because of name recognition. This translates to already powerful incumbents or sure losers trying to unseat entrenched liberals that conservatives hate -- i.e., "Give now and help me unseat Nancy Pelosi!" I'm not saying that you shouldn't give to individual candidates, I'm just saying that if everyone does that and only that, it's a disaster. As I said, the parties put together campaign committees for a reason.

Of course, Perkins' FRC offers to supply that central coordination, but I guarantee those candidates would have to pass a purity test that even conservative stalwarts like Lindsey Graham would fail. He's not as interested in electing Republicans as he is in electing religious fundamentalists. A lot of that money will be wasted.

But never mind all that. To all you Republicans and conservatives out there considering bypassing the RNC, you should totally do that. Tony Perkins just had the best idea anyone ever had in the history of good ideas.


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