June 1, 2007

Firing The Collectors: Desperation Or Efficiency?

The Republican National Committee no longer has operators standing by to take your call -- reportedly because you haven't been calling. Their staff of call-center employees got pink slips yesterday, and while the RNC denies it, the fired employees say that donations have dropped precipitately:

The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, The Washington Times has learned.

Faced with an estimated 40 percent falloff in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, fired staff members told The Times.

Several of the solicitors fired at the May 24 meeting reported declining contributions and a donor backlash against the immigration proposals now being pushed by Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans.

"Every donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue," said a fired phone bank employee who said the severance pay the RNC agreed to pay him was contingent on his not criticizing the national committee.

I've received e-mails asking me about the RNC's explanation, given my call-center background, of aging phone equipment for the terminations. The RNC employed 65 phone solicitors, so the system has to be of significant size, likely with automated-call distribution and call-tracking software. Replacing a system like that would cost quite a bit of money, perhaps in the quarter-million dollar range on the outside. I've seen companies look at that cost, blanch, and start looking at outsourcing as another option.

That said, though, I've also seen infrastructure maintenance used as an excuse to get rid of a failing department. The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations to all parties and affiliated committees, confirms that the Republicans have a fundraising problem. The smaller donors with whom the RNC's call center interfaced have decreased their contributions considerably, and overall income has dropped significantly. The RNC has done better than the Congressional committees, but only because the RNC also focuses on big donors through other means, such as fundraising events.

Republican donors have certainly lost some enthusiasm since the midterm losses last year, and the immigration bill has added to their woes. People are angry about the compromise; they have flooded talk radio shows and the blogs to express their discontent, and in return they have been attacked by President Bush as "not wanting what is best for their country." Under those circumstances, the average small donor has one option, which is to cease being a donor at all -- and to communicate that to the people who call for their assistance.

That creates a need for belt tightening. Under those circumstances, unloading 65 salaries and skipping the replacement of an expensive call-center system makes sense. The question of which is the chicken and which is the egg at this point seems secondary to the overall fundraising problem, which won't get solved by either option of keeping or ending the in-house call center.


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Comments (21)

Posted by the friendly grizzly | June 1, 2007 6:11 AM

"Good morning, this is the Republican National Committee. Press 1 for Spanish, press 2 for Urdu, press 3 for Farsi, Press 4 for Arabic..."

I will make my own "see, I told you so", Limbaugh-esque prediction here: el presidente will try to defuse this whole mess by bringing up what he believes are the key issues for his base: homosexual marriage and flag burning. I also predict that throwing these chunks of red meat are not going to put the base off this time. Those dawgs just won't hunt no more.

Posted by Cybrludite [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 1, 2007 6:36 AM

Here's what I'll be mailing to the RNC... Not my photoshop work, but it's too good not to pass along.


Posted by betsybounds | June 1, 2007 6:40 AM

It's a strange thing to see a political party disown its membership the way the Republicans are doing. Unlike grizzly, I won't make any predictions. There's no telling where this will go, and even Bush--especially Bush--doesn't seem to care much.

BTW, I compliment the Captain on his correct use of the word "precipitately." Most people these days say "precipitously" instead, which is wrong. Just noting.

Posted by Captain Ed | June 1, 2007 6:43 AM

If I used "precipitously", I imagine that criticism would *rain* down upon me. ;-)

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 1, 2007 6:46 AM

This is too snarkalicious, but I'm holding fire. Needless to say, with outsourcing, massive firings, potential labor pool, and illegal immigration, as working material, this is a target rich environment.

Not to mention the Baghdad Bob School of Spin response from the RNC. (Was that snarky? Sorry. My apologies.)

Bigger picture question for the moderates and conservatives, and this has long-term consequences: Does anyone trust the RNC, this administration, and/or the GOP? Personally, I'd say "not really", emphatic "no", and sadly "no", respectively. But isn't that where generally right-leaners are now? Can you trust a leadership, if you can call it that, that puts out policy (illegal immigration) and stories such as this one and expect them to be a) receptive to your position, and b) behaving straightforwardly in response to your concerns? And by extension, would your foundation of trust be just a bit destabilized with regard to any position taken by that leadership? I don't see how one could say "no".

I'm afraid the party has been irreparably poisoned by a series of noxious exposures. The WoT, as vital as it is, cannot carry the day particularly when one of the pillars that contributes to security is so completely undermined by disjointed and dysfunctional policy elsewhere. This isn't an endorsement of the Democrat Party by any means. It remains mired in its own mud of poor policy, but the option of staying committed to the GOP just because it's the cleaner pig just won't keep selling. It especially won't sell when graduates of Bob's School of Spin lead the lecturing.

Posted by Cybrludite [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 1, 2007 6:57 AM


Depends on who shakes out of the primary. An establishment candidate who supports the amnesty bill (*cough*McCain*cough*) would be the death of the party. The "teach the bums a lesson" crowd would far outstrip the "where's that clothespin?" faction.

Posted by Juan Paxety | June 1, 2007 7:15 AM

Another reason we need a "none of the above is acceptable" ballot slot. If folks showed up and voted that way, rather than not show up at the polls at all, that would put a stop to the spin claiming apathetic voters.

Posted by Immolate | June 1, 2007 7:16 AM

There is only one word appropriate for the RNC's extra-reservational excursion:


Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 1, 2007 7:27 AM


Good point.

I don't support the top tier GOP candidates. Neither McCain, Giuliani, nor Romney carry the platform I support most nor with the conviction I require. So, that leaves me, with the context of a failed GOP, advocating the lesser knowns but entirely acceptable to me second to third tier candidates of Hunter and Tancredo. Gingrich hasn't announced and I need specifics from F. Thompson when he does, but they remain viable to me, too.

The problem is that of the second-tier candidates, none are really gaining traction in spite of their generally more conservative planks. Yes, media bias weighs in heavily, but at some point, conservatives need to start providing tangible support to the more doctrinaire Republicans/Libertarians and buck the trend that RINOs are the best option. Look at what the GOP has become! Do you trust that primaries as they exist now can buck the current trend of entrenched "favorites" winning by default? That and frozen incumbencies ensure that a distasteful status quo ossifies into an oligarch. While a Presidential race could produce an outsider should disgust by the electorate rise above a critical mass, I just don't observe that in other federal races. The decks are so heavily stacked.

This is demoralizing.

Posted by Cybrludite [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 1, 2007 7:36 AM


Well, given Thompson's stated views and how well he's been polling without heavy campaigning, I think we've got a shot at keeping the party viable. We'll have to see what happens once he starts running in ernest.

Posted by Jim | June 1, 2007 7:40 AM

I've read that the NR folks have challenged the WSJ editors to a debate on the Shamnesty bill. For some reason, rather than being encouraged by that, I find it extremely depressing. Why? Because for the WSJ to be so out of touch with the overwhelming majority of actual, real, flesh and blood Republicans across America (even Hugh "Harriet Meiers" Hewitt of all people opposes this Shamnesty bill!) demonstrates the apparent HUGE philosophical chasm between "establishment" Republicans residing in their gated condos/communities in DC and Long Island/Manhattan; who may be a miniscule minority from a raw numbers standpoint but who hold immense power -- and the vast millions of actual 2000/2004 Bush voters - whose opinion is 180 degrees from the inside the beltway/manhattan cocktail party "Republicans." (quotes intentional).

IMHO, THIS is what distinguishes this Republican crisis from things like the Harriet Meiers debacle.....there it was just Bush being tone-deaf (and stupid) and/or his handlers and advisors being tone deaf/stupid. But here we apparently have a very powerful cadre of moneymen, industrialists, Wall Street power brokers, corporate executives, etc.....who care about nothing except the bottom line (gotta love that cheap labor pool!) and are going to do their best to pull the strings their way......and Bush is of of them. In their camp all the way. And not one of us.

That makes us......SUCKERS!! Did anyone listen to Laura Ingrahams recent screed? I'm no big Laura fan - I find her show generally annoying - but she nailed it.

Unless someone like Fred Thompson or Mitt can somehow, someway, pick up the pieces.....the Republican party is dead. Although who knows - perhaps President Mitt will talk a good game, get elected, but then get HIS actual marching orders from the Wall Street big boys too - sigh.

Bitter. Cynical. Trust and faith destroyed.


Thanks George. Thanks a million.

Posted by Tim | June 1, 2007 8:13 AM

I have sent EVERY solicitation back, although without money. Only the note that there will NO MONEY until the border is taken care of. Why can't we take care of our southern border like Mexico takes care of theirs?

Posted by MarkD | June 1, 2007 8:20 AM

The president more or less told me to shut up and go away. I don't care about America. I guess six years on active duty in the Marines doesn't count for anything with him.

I must be anti-immigrant. I wonder if anybody told my wife, seeing she is one. I can't understand why she is upset that others don't have to follow the same law that she did.

Ah well, I'm just as glad they aren't calling and asking for money. Since we no longer have the right to disagree with what the president thinks is right for America, I just can't find it in my heart to send them money.

Posted by richard mcenroe | June 1, 2007 8:29 AM


I am Rajid Singh, calling all true Americans on behalf of the Republican Party...

Yep. That orter work.

Posted by M. Simon | June 1, 2007 9:55 AM

Hillary Calling.

I see '06 in our future.

I'm looking forward to national health care, totally open immigration, and surrender in the war.

However, if it sends the Republicans a message it will be worth it.

Posted by M. Simon | June 1, 2007 10:03 AM

Jim at June 1, 2007 7:40 AM,

Yep. The Republican Party is dead. Circular firing squad.

I'm sorry I signed up with a bunch of incompetents.

Unfortunately, I only have the Libertarians to fall back on.

Posted by Joe Doe | June 1, 2007 10:46 AM

I am ready to donate money - to whomsoever can remove every single so-called Republican that support the amnesty bill. Also, to have the issue of the amnesty on the voting balots next election.

Only an idiot can donate money to a thief - and this is what the Republicans in Senate are today - the 40 thiefs under Ali-Bush, just not in Baghdad ('cause is not safe for them there). Some months from now we would probably find out how much money each got and from whom to sell America.

But Bush is the one that has the primary responsibility for this - insulting his base with his pathetic comments that "this is not an amnesty". Then what is an amnesty, Mr Jorge El Presidente? To ever think that he knew things that we dod not know - and ever supported such a scoundrel.

No more Bushes, Clintons, Kennedies. No more politicos dynasty.

Posted by Jim Verdolini | June 1, 2007 1:39 PM

The problem is very simple. We, the base, and, in this instance, the entire electorate, have told our elected folk that we do not want amnesty and that we do want the border closed. The leadership has responded with an extended middle finger...OK, then no votes or money. I am ready to unemploy the weasels.

Posted by doug in colorado | June 1, 2007 2:58 PM

Jeez louise,
I thought I was the only one refusing to take Republican phone solicitations, refusing to respond to mailings, and if I did accidentally find mysielf talking to a Republican phone solicitor, giving them a real piece of my mind...and I've been a Republican since I worked for Barry Goldwater's campaign at the age of 13. Wonder if they'll get the message?

Posted by emdfl | June 1, 2007 4:41 PM

Damn, doug-in-colorado, I thought I was the only one who went back that far(except I was 18). _AuH20n64_. And I'm with you on this one likewise.

Posted by Gus | June 1, 2007 7:29 PM

Having been a frequent recipient of these calls, I can tell you that I was never impressed with the quality of the callers. I hung up on one three weeks ago who simply increased his volume and repeated written talking points to my thoughtful explanations of why I was not interested "in helping the party reclaim the majority in the 2008 elections by making a $300 contribution on my credit card".

I am sorry for the newly unemployed. However, perhaps they should have focused on showing contributors a reason for sending further money rather than just barking hackneyed lines in a dismissive manner.

I tend to agree with Peggy Noonan. The party needs a good housecleaning--starting at the very top.