Friday, March 07, 2008

FairTax.org: "I want to apologize for asking for funding"

I wrote this letter to FairTax.org this evening after reading an apology the campaign sent out to its grassroots supporters. The letter from the organization's Communication Director follows my letter for reader's reference. - Jackie

Dear FairTax.org,

I am a freelance journalist who likes the Bill HR 25/ S 25. My husband and I used to be more active in the grassroots effort of your organization but due to frustrations from trying to assist in promoting the cause but not getting the material and moral support from your organization required to do so, we have not been active for a number of years. In fact, my husband used to be a district director for your organization.

It was because of those concerns that I was interested in reading the email that my husband received from you today, "FairTax campaign apologizes." Communications Director Ken Hoagland apologized for asking for more money on behalf of your organization but in the email, Mr. Hoagland listed what your organization has accomplished and seemed quite proud of those accomplishments. My difference, and I think my husband's too (though I wouldn't dream of speaking for him) with Mr. Hoagland is in the strategy that the FairTax uses to attain its goals. There is a saying that everyone knows (except me, apparently, because I can't remember the exact way it goes) but something to the effect that if you do something and it doesn't work but you keep doing it the same way expecting different results then you aren't very bright.

FairTax.org gives great lip service to how much they appreciate their grassroots supporters when they are seeking further contributions, yet when supporters have ideas they are often dashed, or given little material support. We are not the only ones who have noticed it. It has been a complaint of many grassroots supporters of the FairTax and is the basic reason we washed our hands of working with your organization. We still support Bill HR 25/ S 25, don't get me wrong, we simply do not support your organization because your organization has not proven to support us. Many of your supporters feel the same way and I suspect you realize that since you recognized and claim you plan to change it in the future in the email apology Mr. Hoagland sent out today.

I, and my husband, never were able to give much financially to your organization but even if we had, I can tell you we would not be interested in giving your organization more and more money to use as lobbyists to Congress for the FairTax. Lobbyists to Congress are, in part, what the FairTax promises to decrease! No disrespect but we want to see you out of a job.

I suspect Neal Boortz has done much more to advance the passage of the FairTax than FairTax.org has ever dreamed of doing, though I realize that you MAY have provided him with material and moral support. If you have, that is at least, one thing you have done right. I notice that Neal Boortz shows no sign of support for your organization. I can't recall ever hearing him mention it on his show, I find that interesting and wonder why?

When and if the FairTax ever passes Congress it will do so because the people will have had enough of our current, complicated system of taxation and will demand it. This is possible. It is still possible for the people's collective voices to be heard, as evidenced by the comprehensive immigration reform's failure last year. The people will have to accomplish it, however, not a few salaried lobbyists calling on Congressmen on our behalf.

If your organization was truly interested in causing a grassroots America to passionately cry out for the reform of our federal income tax system and did so by supporting that grassroots population toward swelling growth rather than throwing good money after bad with the same failed strategy, our family's support might return. This is what Mr. Hoagland has suggested your organization plans to do in the future as it apologizes for asking for more money from the very grassroots supporters it has offered little material and moral support to in the past. Well, I live in the "Show Me State." As it is, I will be very happy when you are looking for another line of employment.

If and when the FairTax, Bill HR 25/ S 25 passes, you will no longer need your grassroots supporters to send in non-tax deductible contributions so that your organization's staff can continue driving the FairTax bus around the country and lobbying Congress to pass it. Isn't it ironic that you seek funds to pay yourselves for supporting federal income tax reform which will, in essence put tax lobbyists out of business? You will put yourselves out of business! Without the IRS you will no longer have a job, this causes me to question the sincerity of your organization, especially when watching it fail to get the FairTax passed year after year, calling for the same process and procedure, the same strategy, year after year, asking those grassroots supporters to write letters to their Congressmen year after year, asking those grassroots supporters to continue to sign your paychecks year after year only to restart the cycle with every new Congress ad nauseam. Something is simply wrong with this picture.

Sincerely, Jackie Melton, Springfield, Missouri
www.jackehammer.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear FairTax supporters,

It's time for me to "fess up".

I want to apologize for asking for funding--and for not doing even more than we have. Both rob my sleep. We achieved so much in the past year--but it cost us.

We dominated the Iowa race, held three big rallies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, doubled our grassroots base, launched and kept the beautiful FairTax bus on the road, "guested" on more than 600 radio talk shows, convinced ABC's George Stephanopoulos to ask the FairTax question at GOP debates and moved the FairTax onto the national stage. And best, we saw one candidate, Gov. Mike Huckabee, not only embrace the FairTax but make it a center plank of his campaign. He continued to help us last week by signing our April 15th petition in Houston in front of a room full of reporters.

We've been "running the baselines" the way Pete Rose did--without fear and with every ounce of our hearts. We put people in the field, hired local organizers, "wrapped" the FairTax bus, funded rallies and media and gave away almost every T-shirt, cap, bumper sticker and membership brochure we had (about 250,000).

It worked.

But it meant that just after Iowa we laid off most of our staff to reduce operating expenses. We only kept the campaign elements that would allow us to capitalize on our momentum for the hardest work--expanding our membership base--and reluctantly said "thank you and good-bye" to a small group of talented young people who worked seven day weeks for more than a year to make our on-the-ground efforts so powerful.

We are now rebuilding the campaign infrastructure brick-by-brick. The FairTax.org Web site is better than it ever has been, the FairTax Groups (grassroots-managed sites) are growing, the FairTax bus continues to delight in hundreds of towns and cities, our media work continues and we continue to hector talk show hosts across the nation. Membership is growing and our operational tempo is again increasing. But no, admittedly, not fast enough.

We are just now turning the corner financially--because of your generosity and because our numbers are growing. We funded 100,000 memberships "tri-folds" in the new Boortz/Linder FairTax book (on the bestseller list again as one more reminder how powerfully popular is the FairTax), we launched our first direct mail effort in years, and our Internet strategies are dramatically growing the membership. In a little more than one week, we already have more than 40,000 signatures on our April 15th petition to Congress and Presidential candidates. We have just restocked our tri-fold supply with 100,000 new pieces and we have brought on long-time supporter, Jimmy Walby, to work closely with grassroots leaders nationally. We are making plans now for Congressional district level issue campaigns and are actively reaching out to national leaders for support. Still not enough.

We bought full-page newspaper ads before the Ohio and Texas primaries (thank you for making this happen!) and plan to place more ads in small to medium newspapers in states where we have large membership figures--and low co-sponsorship levels. Alone the ads are not enough, but they bring people to our Web site and help grow our base and excite newcomers about the FairTax.

I'll admit I blew my top a few weeks ago when one frustrated local leader wrote to ask why we were not "getting real" and buying TV ads across the country and putting organizers and billboards in every town and city. After talking with him at length is was clear that we both shared a common frustration that we have not been able to do more and do it faster. But we took some comfort in the fact that the FairTax has never had more Congressional co-sponsors or been better known nationally.

Our challenge now is make our campaign even more powerful and to shift our efforts from the early Presidential primary strategy that served us so well to direct pressure on Congress and the leading Presidential candidates for both parties. Both goals, and an increased operational tempo, require many more supporters and even more active measures now by the FairTax family. On the merits, we win. But being right is not enough, it takes organization, funding and political strength to overturn the self-interest of Congress and the ignorance of the national media.

For our grassroots leaders--I'm sorry we have not been able to work more closely with you and give you better tools and more materials. That is now changing. For our many contributors, I am sorry I keep asking for funding. But to all, please know that we are on the road to a stronger and self-sustaining national campaign that just keeps getting better and better. Our cause deserves much more, and we know it.

What can you do now? Here are five things (click on anything in blue):

1. Help us deliver 100,000 names by April 15th: Sign the petition now at www.changedc.org.
2. Get your friends and family to join our cause and sign the petition.
3. Write your Members of Congress (Here's a scorecard of current FairTax supporters).
4. Ask friendly online, print and radio media to feature our FairTax ads.
5. And yes, I am sorry to ask but please continue to help us fund the work.

Take pride in what we have accomplished together this last year and keep the faith because we are on the path to write history, change America and make good on our Founding Father's promise of a nation directed by its citizens. Sincerely, Ken HoaglandCommunications Director

If you would prefer sending a check or credit card contribution by mail, please download and print our contribution form here.

7 comments:

Rich Giambrno said...

As an avid supporter of the FT myself I completely disagree with your criticisms of AFFT. It is because people such as yourselves gave up on AFFT, that they could not support your efforts. Lobbying? What are you talking about? Explain how asking congressman and senators to support the bill or be fired by their constituency is lobbying?
The FairTax bus is a great presence at any event. It adds great credibility to all we do when it shows up. There should be 3 Ft busses, not one bus!
For the FT to pass it will take:
1.education
2. Money
It takes the latter to do the former.
When you decided to pull away from AFFT and pulled support, you hurt the very effort you criticize.
I ask each and every supporter and person I speak to give just $10.00/month as a sustaining contributor to the fairTax.org website. If 50,000 of the 600,000 supporters would do that, the grassroots would have $500,000 a month to fund education etc.
As a district director, I think you should reconsider and help the AFFT get better, not complain about it! A central heart is key to any grassroots movement, and that is not Neal Boortz, trust me. He is wonderful, but should not be the central heart to the cause!

Jacke M. said...

Rich, if you ever tell AFFT that you are advising congressmen and senators to either support the fairtax or you won't vote for them they will advise you not to say that to your congressmen.

I disagree with their strategy. If it is about education then there are better ways to educate people about the fairtax than driving a bus around the country.

AFFT has done a lot to promote the FairTax. Good for them, the only trouble is that their strategy has been the same every year and yet every year their strategy is the same but never works, never gets it passed. I'm just saying I can't support their strategy.

For every person who gets fed up with the strategy of AFFT and their lack of material and moral support for their grassroots leaders there is probably going to be a new supporter to fill his shoes. If you support AFFT's effort for getting Bill HR 25/ S 25passed then more power to you, follow your heart and do what you feel convicted to do but I, while supporting Bill HR 25/ S 25, do not support AFFT's strategy. It isn't working, it's a vicious cycle and in my opinion they need to try something different. Like running mass newspaper ads, radio and TV ads across the country. In my opinion that would be a better use of funds than driving a gas guzzling fairtax bus around that a few people in any given location might see.

Thanks for your comment.

tom said...

Well done Jackie !! I thought I might be one of the few who couldn't understand how the AFFT could come to me and ask for more money.

It is quite similar though to a scathing letter I wrote to the RNC and how a greater % of the elected republicans were acting more like fascist/socialist with their voting records and I can't again support the lessor of two evils in the upcoming election. My response was a form fund raising letter asking me to send $25 or more to help future fascist(my term)get elected.

I seem to recall your hubby was one of the few who supported candidates which stood behind the FairTax, no matter what party affiliation they had after their name. Meanwhile most of the grassroots effort in this area worked on getting republicans elected first then they would push the FairTax agenda onto these representatives. Well I see that plan backfired as ALL of the local republicans on the state and federal level have ignored those that are pushing this effort.
My what a tangled web we weave in terms of politics. The 7th district had a FairTax supporter but since he isn't a republican we must not elect that individual as he won't have nay say in Washington DC. Well Roy Blunt hasn't signed onto the effort and he won't sign onto it either since he knows he will be returned to the 7th seat for as long as he has his name on the ballot.

As for supporting AFFT with any more money I'm in complete agreement with you.

Rich G said...

Jacke m and Tom
If your judgement on the AFFT is soley based on the FT being passed than we have nothing more to discuss here. Do you realize what we are trying to do? How many years was AFFT a fully functional central driven fully staffed entity? Two to three, that is it. Did you really expect 2-3 years would be the time needed to pass the FT when it was developed 12 years ago?
And Tom, one thing for sure pulling support of AFFT does no one any good. Just $10 a month, that is all. Sorry that offends you.
Sorry you both misunderstood me. I never said driving the FT bus around was education. It is awareness. To do the correct thing, education, it takes money to help us present more professionally. I was trained by AFFT to present the FT, 2 years ago. But that needs to continue and we need to do more education. If you needed materials, money would have helped that. AFFT spent money like mad and much material wound up in the garages of supporters. Even if it was given out, it wound up in trash bins, as awareness event materials normally do. I would suggest that had that money been spent on education, we would be much further ahead now. Most material sent out was in fact materials for events that promoted awareness, not education in a controlled setting. AFFT knows, and any marketing major knows, that giving out pamphlets at fairs and shows, while fun and active, yield very unproductive results just so people can say "the FT? Oh I saw that at a fair". Few will go home, pull out the material, go to the website and get involved. Yet because of folks wanting all this material for awareness, the funds dried up, people such as yourselves gave up and we are where we are now. A skelton crew at AFFT. Rallies are also awareness but the huge push and volume of people gets attention of the politicians. The FT bus is a roveing billboard and as I said before, it gives credibility to AFFT to grassroots people in the field when they see the buss. "Look, it is the FT bus!" It is quite a sight when a huge crowd turns their heads as the FT bus honks and drives by.
Now, education however leads to a much different result. When you pulled your support you did pull away something vital to education...money. $10.00 a month hurts nobody. And materials and education cannot happen without money. As far as the politicians, you know very well that all grassrotts supporters write to politicians and let them know the FT is a make or break issue for them. Regardless of what AFFT says, those letters still happen and will continue to happen. They can be written as from individuals and not AFFT members, as many do. Thank you for supporting the FT in the past, but what you do now, without a central drive provided by a HEALTHY AFFT, frankly is a waste of time if it is not eduction being done in large numbers.
You and all others who walked away need to give AFFT another chance or the FT will die, regardless of best selling books. The time is now to rebuid the AFFT. And remember, many who were at AFFT back then are gone now so maybe the new AFFT will look better to you!
Rich

Jacke M. said...

How many glossy trifolds could AFFT have printed for the price and maintenence costs of that bus, Rich?

How many radio ads could AFFT have bought in markets across the U.S. for the price and maintenence costs of that bus?

How many billboard ads could have raised awareness at multiple sites across the country for the price and maintenence costs of that bus?

How many thumbnail sketch cards listing the key points of the FairTax could have been printed and passed out to the public for the price and maintenence costs of that bus?

...etc., etc., etc.

As it is Americans For Fair Taxation is doing more to get Bill HR 25/ S 25 passed than I am so I commend them for driving their bus around the country to heighten awareness of the cause BUT wouldn't your time be better suited in promoting HR 25/S 25 than in promoting AFFT? Just a rhetorical question.

Keep up the good work in trying to educate the public about the bill, Rich.

tom said...

Rich,

I was trained to present the FairTax and given a packet to help promote the effort. I worked booths at numerous events. I handed out literature during my campaigning and when I ran out of literature I still talked about the plan to whomever would listen. I also donated money as I thought the cause was just.

At this point I have no materials to hand out and my affordable bills during the normal recourse of life have almost doubled since that time. As a business owner I can't simply print money to pay myself and my bills. I also just can't arbitrarily raise my rates to compensate for the added cost of these added expenses or I'll lose some of my customer base as they also have inflated expenses that must be met. Unlike government I can't put a gun(figuratively)to anyones head and force them to pay me for services or just up and raise their rates and expect them to continue my services.

I wasn't offended at anything you said and I'm one person that you can't offend so don't fret the small stuff.

Neal does a good job of explaining the issue however he also turns people off to the issue just by his endorsement of such. Selling an idea requires quite a bit of advertising and who better to advertise a concept with then the people.
Your probably correct there many people who got information and did nothing to promote the idea and either the training packets were pitched or are sitting buried in a closet or garage somewhere, this happens on many levels of business.

I deal with the same thing in my business but I have to account for such loses in my costs.

With the prices of everything we do escalating in the last few years and the monthly amount of fuel my company trucks consume I needed to cut some charity spending and I did so and I would bet others have done the same.




By the way Jackie you missed a very contentious container meeting.

Rich G said...

Hey guys, it's me again, the pest. The FT bus costs 2600.00 a month so it can cover some costs you mention but that is not the issue. It is huge to the effort when it is there to suport us. I guess we disagree, but if you need everything AFFT does be justified, than I am sure you will never support it.
There is a move underway right now to get AFFT reorganized so I do think it would be worth your effort to stay involved. I still believe we can not get this passed without a central heart to the movement. There would be too many fragmented efforts overlapping. Again, 10 a month really hurts that much? well ok then do not give.
Queation: What would a healthy productive AFFT look like to you all? Let me know because I am in discussions now with some Directors on that subject right now so your suggestions would help.
Rich