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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control: Democrats’ email fundraising pitches relentless

There are mornings when the content of my email inbox suggests the Democratic Party has been replaced by an online fundraising machine bent on extracting money from unsuspecting rubes by setting phony deadlines to ward off hyperbolic calamities.

Almost every trick to wheedle a few bucks – anything short of claiming to be the son of the dead Nigerian oil minister willing to split a small fortune if I’ll just send a processing charge – shows up over time.

The tempo of the emails increased late last month, apparently because President Barack Obama got in a minor spitting match with conservative gazillionaire Charles Koch. In a speech about energy standards, the president accused the Koch brothers by name of trying to keep clean energy businesses from succeeding.

Koch told reporters he was “flabbergasted” that Obama would pick on him and suggested such attacks were “beneath the dignity of the president.”

This infuriated the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or so they said in an email. Misconstruing Koch’s comment, they alleged he said Obama was beneath the dignity of the president. “No sitting president has ever been disrespected like this before,” they huffed.


Abraham Lincoln was called a gorilla by the general commanding his army. John Quincy Adams was called a pimp and Andrew Jackson the son of a prostitute during the 1828 election. Thomas Jefferson called John Adams “a hermaphrodite of a man” – and he was Adams’ vice president. Adams responded that Jefferson was a would-be rapist and arsonist. Koch’s flabbergastedness seems weak by comparison.

Historical inaccuracy aside, the DCCC said it could right this wrong if I clicked a link to “chip in $5 immediately.” I declined.

A couple of days later, the organization warned a Republican-led government shutdown looms and asked me to click to give a fiver to stop that. The DCCC apparently doesn’t realize if the government shuts down, I keep the boss happy by writing more stories. So no dice.

A day later, I got a “failure to respond” email, asking for that $5 before a midnight deadline because they are short of their goal. Washington Democrats, meanwhile, apparently laid hands on the DCCC email list and asked for at least $10 by day’s end to help prevent a Republican takeover in Olympia. Such a takeover is not mathematically possible this year – Democrats are up four seats in the House of Representatives and can lose no more than one this fall. Republicans already control the Senate, but at least some blame for that must go to Ds for finding poor candidates to run for competitive seats. So no 10-spot for the locals and no $5 for the nationals.

The next day, Washington Democrats issued an even more urgent plea for that donation to keep the state from going Republican red. But a strange thing had happened. A day earlier, they were $876 short of their goal; now they were $2,302 short. To suggest this proves Democrats can’t handle money would be a logical conclusion, but that’s just too easy a joke to make.

At this point, the DCCC may have worried that I either died or don’t exist. They sent an email to thank me for a contribution I didn’t make. “Not a fundraising e-mail” it said, and offered a free sticker in exchange for a click, which would likely confirm my address is still good. The Democratic National Committee sent another, offering 10 percent off a T-shirt with the White House covered with the rainbow Gay Pride Flag. Nice shirt, but even with the discount, $27 was too much for a T-shirt. Pass.

Obama took time off from worrying about the melting ice caps, the Islamic State and the Iran nuclear deal to offer me a chance on a drawing, the winner of which gets a trip to New York to meet him at the annual LGBT Gala Dinner. Just click to make a $3 contribution. When I didn’t do that, Organizing for Action – which was Obama for America until after the 2012 election – was apparently so astounded I’d turn down a chance for a trip to New York that they asked me to write back to make sure their contact info was right. The DNC also wrote to offer another chance on the New York trip drawing. Pass, and pass.

On Friday, Nancy Pelosi wrote to say she was astounded that a federal judge was letting Republicans continue with a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and hoped I would be astounded enough to sign a petition supporting Obama.

Sorry, Madame Former Speaker, but I’m not falling for that one. It would double the number of frantic appeals your folks send me. My spam filter might go on strike in protest.

So what about Republicans? Their vaunted fundraising machinery probably has just as many ways to pull money out of a wallet. But they’re apparently smart enough not to send them to reporters, realizing that even if we were allowed to make these kinds of contributions – at most news organizations we aren’t – we’re way too cheap to do so.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and reader comments at blogs/spincontrol.