So in the previous post, I debunked the draft rumor going around. I figured I’d do a little more poking and find out who was running Congress.org, the origin of the rumor. They do pretty shoddy research, whoever they are.
No big dramatic reveal here, alas. Congress.org is owned by a company by the name of Issue Dynamics Inc.. They’re a political consulting company that focuses on liberal causes; they’re big on grassroots, which explains why they’re running Congress.org. It’s presumably an effective means of encouraging people to generate letters to Congressmen.
They also do a lot of what they call “relationship management.” This translates into introducing companies to activist groups who have a common interest. Here’s a case study illustrating how they work. Here’s another, with a less positive spin. It’s a clever piece of work: IDI raises money from corporations, and gives it to activist groups with a good image, who then run ads with the money. It’s money laundering for lobbyists.
IDI says that groups like the Grey Panthers (in the second example) are only doing what they’d do anyhow if they had the money to do it. This is a reasonable defense, if you think that money never convinces anyone to do something they wouldn’t normally do. Hm.
Disinfopedia has a list of clients up; it includes both progressive organizations and big businesses.
None of this connection shows up on the Congress.org website, by the by. The trail there leads to a website called Capitol Advantage, which boasts:
No other company has delivered more messages to Congress. When your organization needs to step up and influence legislation or public opinion, we’re the only ally you’ll ever need.
I’m not sure that connection’s much better. It makes it pretty obvious that Congress.org, rather than being a benign public service web site, is a tool for making Capitol Advantage money. In the Congress.org FAQ, I noticed that the Congress.org “Action Alerts” are generated by web sites that subscribe to Capitol Advantage’s Capwiz service. And hey! The draft rumor was in fact… just another Action Alert!
So that explains where that came from. It was just someone paying some money to put a bogus story on an important-looking web site.