I spend a lot of time trying to raise money for the candidates Blue America endorses. I’m also a campaign contributor personally. I write most of the emails Blue America sends out so I’ve been putting a lot of thought into not writing dickwad emails since 2006. Many, many years ago the DCCC flew me to Washington to show them how to use the internet to raise money. I’m sorry I ever did it, especially since the only thing they wanted to do was send dickwad emails and that since 2006 their emails have gotten worse and worse. But I’ve done my best to show candidates how to send letters that don’t offend the recipients. Very few take heed. I also get dozens of solicitations a week— sometimes that many a day— and I usually unsubscribe from lists that are sending the worst emails; I recommend you do the same.
I was happy to see an email yesterday from Katie Porter, currently a candidate for the open California Senate seat. She tries to not send out what I call empty-calorie emails. This one wasn’t. She had a worthwhile and interesting point to make on contribution solicitations.
As a consumer protection attorney, there’s a lot I’ve always disliked about political emails. Emails that try to shame or terrify you into donating aren’t my style.
Let me break down a few of the tactics you’ve probably seen:
“We need 5,238 donors from YOUR zip code.” This is fake. We have goals and deadlines, and donations from different parts of the state or country can signal support, but there’s no crazy math like this happening.
“Donate $5 today and it will be triple matched.” I promise nobody is really doing this.
“Warning: Payment incomplete.” I despise these misleading emails that make you think you’ve missed a bill. Invoking this type of fear in people is unacceptable.
I’ve introduced legislation to crackdown on scam PACs, who can often be the worst offenders of this. Scam PACs are political organizations that exist to steal money rather than to support a cause or candidate. Their expenditures go solely to “consultants” rather than real causes, and it’s a shameful way to make a quick buck.
Here’s what is real: our fundraising deadlines and the facts we give you about this race. There is urgency, yes, because we’re just nine months out from Election Day, and that means we have to start building our campaign right now. We’ve been outraised by another candidate in this race, so we need to strategically plan how to catch up and stretch our dollars further.
Our end of quarter deadlines are some of the most important, as we have to publicly report how much we raise every three months. But our monthly internal goals help us hit those quarterly goals, and we base our internal budget on our monthly revenue.
Today is the 30th, so tomorrow at midnight we’ll be checking the numbers and seeing where we’re at and how much we can scale up our campaign. So truly, whatever zip code you’re in, I’d be so appreciative of your support!
I would just add that there’s a day that is just as important as the last day of the quarter— the first day of the new quarter… or the second day or third day. These FEC “deadlines” are all pretty artificial and, take my word for it, campaigns need money everyday and are happy to get it whenever it comes. Katie had raised an astounding $9.4 million for her campaign as of the end of March. The problem for her was that Adam Schiff is much better known and he had brought in $24.7 million. And Barbara Lee, who had a late start, reported $1.2 million. The second quarter ends in June and those quarterly levels are a lot more important to the campaigns than the monthly figures, which mean pretty much nothing at all. If you're wondering why I'm not asking you to contribute to Katie's campaign-- since we have endorsed her in the past-- it's because the feeling at Blue America is that Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff are also great candidates and we're not ready to get behind any individual in this race yet.