Earlier today I went out to my mailbox to get our mail. I saw a very official looking envelope that had printed "Return Enclosed" at the bottom as if it were a tax return. While it was addressed to my husband, we commonly open each other's mail if it has to do with taxes. It wasn't until I pulled out the contents of the envelope that I realized it was a fundraiser. My blood started to boil.
Elizabeth Dole sent out an NRSC fundraiser intentionally disguised as a "Return" and sent to "U.S. Individual Resident". Upon a quick second look I did see that the return address had the American Eagle and Elizabeth Dole's name at the top of the envelope. Someone else might honestly think that this was an official notification from the government. Especially, an elderly person or a new registrant who hasn't been politically active in the past.
Links to documents below the fold
Enclosed in the envelope was a four page letter and a three page survey. The survey was designed to look like a tax form. The very first sentence of the letter is,
Your immediate attention is required on a confidential and time-sensitive matter.
First, this is unsolicited. Neither my husband nor I requested this solicitation. Imagine my surprise when I continued to read and found these paragraphs:
DO NOT DESTROY YOUR SURVEY! The enclosed Republican Senate Leadership Survey is an OFFICIAL REPUBLICAN PARTY DOCUMENT. Your Survey is REGISTERED IN YOUR NAME ONLY and MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR upon completion of this project.
If you decide not to represent your local voting district in this important Republican Senate Leadership Survey - please RETURN THE SURVEY DOCUMENT - AT ONCE - IN THE ENVELOPE PROVIDED.
This certainly sounds official and it also sounds threatening. If I didn't know better, I would think that something bad could happen to me if I didn't return this to the Republican Party. It also says it is confidential. That's like an abuser saying, "Don't tell. This is our secret." This could be very intimidating to an elderly person or someone who isn't experienced in politics.
This isn't even the worst part. While there is a postage paid return envelope included in with the survey there are only three options given for returning the survey. All three ask for money. Yes, that's right. There are no options given to return the survey without enclosing money for the NRSC. The first option is:
Yes! I want to help defend our Republican Senate Majority and build a strong foundation of Republican grassroots support for President Bush and his agenda. I am enclosing my most generous contribution of: _$500 _$250 _$100 _$50 _$25 __Other$_
The second option is:
No. I do not wish to participate in this vital Republican Senate Leadership Survey. however, I am returning my Survey Document, along with a generous donation to help build Republican grassroots support for President Bush and his agenda. I am enclosing a donation of: _$500 _$250 _$100 _$50 _$25 __Other$__
The final option is simply absurd. This is the final option:
No. I do not wish to particiapte in the Survey, nor do I wish to make a donation to help the Republican Party. I am returning my Survey Document, along with a contribution of $11 to help cover the cost of tabulating and redistributing my Survey.
I have no problem with the NRSC wanting to do a survey. I have no problem with them wanting to solicit funds for their Senatorial candidates. I do have a problem with them passing off a fundraiser as a tax document, requiring that it be returned and then not allowing for a way to return it without sending money. It is basically a bill and it is delivered in a very intimidating and threatening tone.
I will be contacting the Attorney General in North Carolina tomorrow to see if this fundraiser in any way violates state law. I will be filing a formal complaint with the AG's office and anywhere required to put a stop to this type of false fundraiser. There is a way to raise money that is honest and straightforward. This is not it.
Shame on Elizabeth Dole for extending the Republican culture of corruption from Washington into North Carolina and every other state where this fundraising scam is being used.
To view copies of this fundraiser/survey, please see Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Envelopes, Survey 1, Survey 2, Survey 3.
Update: I changed the title of the post to prevent any misunderstanding about the "targeting" of the fundraiser. I don't know who it was sent to, but the wording, tone, design and secrecy of the mailing has the potential to be more intimidating to the elderly or naive voter. I'm sorry for any confusion.
Update 2: I have filed a formal complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General's office. I couldn't find a way to expedite it, so went through normal channels. I am also on the phone now holding to speak with an investigator with the FEC. I don't think it violates any FEC rules/laws, but I'm going to find out from them.