Spam laws have thankfully gotten tougher and the penalties harsher. Not surprisingly, our Federal Politicians have exempted themselves from such laws much like they exempted themselves from many of the other regulations they legislate on we the citizens that employ them.
Recently appointed U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York has wasted no time in exploiting this loophole in my privacy. Now, I should mention that I went to Dartmouth College with the Senator (she was called Tina Rutnik during those years), and can’t really say that we knew each other. That is the only connection I can think of that would cause my name to be ever-present on her mailing list. Certainly my residency in Washington state, my voting record, my positions on the issues, and repeated efforts to utilize the “To unsubscribe from the Gillibrand for Senate email list, please click here.” would suggest that I am really not interested in her monthly pleas for money.
But, this particularly pathetic panhandling effort finally put me over the edge. It’s wrong on so may levels. Even an entry level marketer would know to get the following three things right when running a campaign:
- Reinforce Your Brand
This United States Senator is holding a $5 raffle to a lunch with two people that have added nothing appreciable via public service to date. Conclusion: She’s not influential.
- A Compelling Message for the Targeted Demographic
The enticement: give her campaign $5 so I can ‘have my picture taken with Al, Paul and her’. Are you kidding? How about: “I’ll get 15 minutes of face time to exchange thoughts on how to best support small business growth”, and after they wow me with their views and leadership, I’ll donate according to my conscience. As expressed above, not only am I not the correct target for this campaign, they specifically identify me as something I am not “most loyal supporter”. Conclusion: She’s utterly out of touch with me.
- Call to Action
Give her some money to be entered into a raffle. I operate under the premise that donations should support politicians working for issues and causes important to me and the country. Conclusion: She’ll try anything to get my money, and nothing to get my views.
I went ahead and ‘unsubscribed’ again, but this time did it repeatedly, hoping that it would signal that I really mean it this time. However, because they don’t like spam either, (or just don’t want to hear from me very much) the 4th time I submitted my request for unsubscription it served me up the following message:
Due to daily transaction restrictions, your current IP address(xx.xxx.xxx.xxx) has been blocked from making transactions.
Please wait 24 hours before trying again.
If you feel this is not correct, please contact the organization.
So, now to the part about enlisting the crowd to help me get off of her list. I started by spending the $5 she is asking for in a manner worthwhile to me; I’m paying the crowd to each cancel me 3 times before their IP address is also blocked.
The paid crowd responded with 150 separate requests to unsubscribe me. Their campaign’s response to this was an email 3 days later that says the following:
Picture it: you, Kirsten, Paul Begala, and Al Franken. Sounds like a fun holiday card to me!
With less than three days until the deadline to enter this once-in-a-lifetime contest to get your photo taken with Al, Paul, and Kirsten, I want to be sure that you saw the contest announcement last week.
I know Kirsten can't wait to hear your thoughts over lunch.
One one hand, they dug the hole even deeper, but on the other, at least they make mention of hearing about my thoughts now. Although I’m not sure I’ll be able to provide all my thoughts in the few seconds I’ll have to talk through a fake smile in the photo shoot.
Since the people running her campaign do not have the facility to stop contacting me, I went to her official Senate website to communicate with her more directly. Rather than simply ask to be left alone, I shared my thoughts on healthcare reform.
Any health care reform needs to start with Malpractice Tort Reform and the Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines - then work out from there. In addition, we need to ensure that whatever health legislation does pass, does not contain the myriad of government intrusions on freedom and personal liberty – i.e. disclosure of medical and financial records to government agencies who have the power to force us to buy something we don’t want or need.
Brent Frei, Dartmouth ‘88
Next I asked the virtual workforce to suggest alternative ideas for getting removed from the mailing list.
Here are a few of the many useful responses:
- Call her New York City office at (212) 688-6262 and make the request.
- Fax her New York City office at (212) 688-7444 and make the request.
- Submit a written request to her New York City Office address:
780 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10017
- Submit a written request to her Washington, DC Office address:
Washington, DC 20510
- Use the unsubscribe on her privacy page: from http://www.kirstengillibrand.com/privacy/ - Unsubscribing from Email Communications: If you wish to unsubscribe from our communications, please email us at info@KirstenGillibrand.com. We will regularly process these requests. To comply with federal election law, however, our contributor records will be continuously maintained in a separate secure database.
- Use the contact form on her senate website: go to http://gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/ , fill the contact form, in the “Subject” dropdown list choose “Requests”, write your request, and press “Send”.
- Block her emails: From the Control Panel, select the Block Email icon. The Block Email utility opens. Select "Add A New Block". In the text box on the next page, enter the full email address you wish to block. Select "Add Block". That's it! You can edit your block list after that - unblocking or adding more entries as needed.
- Subscribe to an email monitoring site that screens mail from sites of your choice
- Auto-forward her emails to a spam registration service
And the most creative:
10 . Have a few hundred workers send a message to her personal email each from a new temporary yahoo email account requesting that her fund raisers leave Brent alone.
As temping as number 10 is, Kirsten is fundamentally a good person, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Now, if her team will stop treating me like a potential audience member for the Jerry Springer Show, she’ll have righted her wrong.
- Brent Frei