Another article on the College Republicans' fundraising controversy, and frankly it raises more questions than it answers. First, we see that CRNC President Eric Hoplin has decided that avoiding the press won't make them go away.
Hoplin, 26, whose job was once held by top White House strategist Karl Rove, says he is looking into whether the committee's chief consultant misled and preyed on elderly people with a barrage of letter solicitations.
"We've come to discover that there are a few donors who have been confused, a few donors who have some form of dementia, who aren't entirely sure of the amount of money that they're giving -- and how often they're giving," Hoplin said this week.
Hoplin also acknowledged one source of that confusion: The College Republicans raise funds "using a lot of project names" -- letters that in the past neglected to mention his group at all.
Hoplin said that, after becoming the committee's executive director in 2001, his "first reform" was to require that every solicitation identify the College Republicans.
He pledged in a phone interview to refund donations to any unhappy contributor and said about a half dozen have been reimbursed.
But Monda Jo Millsap, 68, of Van Buren, Ark., said she agreed, when solicited by phone and mail, to "lend" nearly $60,000 to the group, but hasn't gotten her money back.
"They were supposed to give it back, and I haven't heard nothing," she said.
Hoplin said he is looking into possible irregularities by the group's longtime consultant for direct-mail fundraising, Virginia-based Response Dynamics Inc. The firm and its subcontractors appear to have been paid at least $6 million for sending hundreds of thousands of direct mail solicitations, according to the College Republicans' disclosure reports to the Internal Revenue Service.
"If Response Dynamics is preying on old people, I'll put a stop to it," Hoplin said.
Ron Kanfer, president of Response Dynamics, said the firm has no way of knowing the ages of the recipients of its fundraising letters. He said the problem more than likely resulted from some people appearing on dozens of purchased lists of potential donors, possibly resulting in their being bombarded with solicitations within days. Kanfer said his firm has tried to eliminate duplications.
"Why would any client want to have the same person receiving these letters?" he asked. "It's not in anybody's best interest."
Alison Eikele, a spokeswoman for the College Republicans, said 79 percent of the group's revenue has been eaten up by the costs of fundraising consultants. The rest went for a campus recruiting drive that more than tripled membership to 150,000, for grooming new members to be foot soldiers in the Bush-Cheney campaign's get-out-the-vote effort and for dispatching 75 paid staff members to presidential battleground states this fall, Hoplin said.
Thanks again to Mark McCaig for the tip.Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 12, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack