Thursday, April 25, 2019

Camp@ign: Introduction

Starting in the 2016 election, and again for 2020, I started donating a small amount to political campaigns in order to get on their donor lists. I use a unique email address for each campaign, used only for those campaigns. I use "gift cards" bought at the store instead of a real credit card. I give fake names and addresses.

The reason I did this was to track how they spam donors after the campaign ended. Once you get on their donor mailings lists, you can basically never get off. Even when the campaign ends, your personal information is valuable coin that can be sold to other campaigns.

In the 2016 election season, as each Republican candidate dropped out, they would "sell" or "rent" their donor lists to the remaining candidates. "Rent" means a one-time use in exchange for money. The renter pays to use the list to send a single email. If they want to use the list again, they have to pay again. In contrast, "sell" means the entire list is given to the buyer, to use as often as they want, for any reason they want.

Soon after pulling out of the race, I'd start receiving emails on their accounts for the remaining candidates, or for other races. The DCCC and NRCC (Democrat and Republican congressional organizations) were also big buyers/renters of lists.

One of the interesting things is that I'd start getting emails through the zombie Mitt Romney 2012 campaign. Political campaigns almost always end with debt, so continue to live on trying to raise money to pay off those debts. The Romney campaign would buy mailings lists from one candidate, then rent them to other candidates.  Another interesting thing how I started getting emails from the DCCC to the Hillary address in December of 2015, before the primaries against Bernie had even started. She sold her list to the DCCC. Sadly, I didn't donate to the DCCC until after this, but it appears they gave her their lists as well. I think they exchanged donor lists rather than having money change hands.

Tracking how they use and abuse email addresses is one thing, but another thing I've learned over the years is the vapidity of campaign messages. All candidates oppose powerful interests and fight for the people, for example. When you've chosen a candidate, and listen only to their campaign rhetoric, you want to cheer at such messages, and you repeat to your friends "I support so-and-so because they are fighting for the people". When you hear the same rhetoric, and often the exact wording, from every candidate, you start to realize how vapid it is.

Another thing I've learned how dishonest the candidates and parties are. They are hyper focused on getting as much money as they can from you. They don't even want your vote at this point, all they want is your money. You are no longer a real person to them, such a resource their staff exploits as hard as possible for as much money as possible.

Anyway, this post is light on details. In subsequent posts, I'll get into more examples of these various issues. This is just a starter post for this domain that I can fill in later.

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