Wednesday, April 04, 2007

How low can you possibly go?

If you're John Edwards we're still not sure, but it's pretty low.

When you visit the John Edwards for President Web site, you're invited to send a sympathy note to the Edwardses. And tens of thousands of well wishers have done so since that heart-wrenching news conference two weeks ago at which Elizabeth Edwards courageously discussed her incurable cancer.

What those well wishers get in return -- e-mail messages soliciting contributions to Edwards's campaign.

Visitors to the Edwards site who choose to "send a note to Elizabeth and John" are first taken to a heartfelt letter from the candidate that was written the day after he learned that his wife's cancer had returned. Edwards thanks readers for their "prayers and wishes," vows that he and Elizabeth will "keep a positive attitude always look for the silver lining" and declares that "our campaign goes on and it goes on strongly."

Anyone who then chooses to send a note of sympathy to the Edwardses -- and, thus, provide his or her e-mail address -- automatically becomes part of the Edwards campaign's online e-mail database, a list that is crucial to any campaign's ability to raise vast amounts of money over the Internet.

If you sent a note to the Edwardses before the critical March 31 end-of-the-quarter fundraising deadline, you would have received frantic e-mail solicitations from the campaign, such as the one on March 28 from Edwards campaign manager David Bonior titled, "96 hours to show substance works." The solicitation asked for "$25, $50 or any amount you can afford to give."

By the way, this explanation from the campaign is a flat out lie:

Jonathan Prince, Edwards's deputy campaign manager, acknowledged that the campaign adds the e-mail addresses of Elizabeth Edwards's well wishers to its e-mail fundraising list. Giving a one-line explanation, he said, "Nobody gets an e-mail from us without explicitly agreeing to receive e-mails."

There is no mention whatsoever that you're agreeing to be contacted by return email when you go to the page to send a message of sympathy for any reason at all, much less a crass fund raising drive. The least they could do is solicit funds for cancer research rather than John's egotistical quest for power.

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