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Ken Magill

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2 Political Orgs' Email Likely Weak; It's Their Own Damned Fault

11/11/14
 
By Ken Magill
 
Just when they need their email lists the most, two political groups probably can’t rely on them.
 
HBO’s Girls star Lena Dunham has threatened to sue conservative activist group Truth Revolt for publishing excerpts from her memoir and interpreting them to mean she sexually molested her younger sister over a an extended period.
 
Dunham’s lawyers last week sent Truth Revolt a cease-and-desist letter demanding the group remove the story and publish a prominent public apology.
 
The letter called certain aspects of Truth Revolt’s story “completely false and fabricated, and highly defamatory of my client. Each of these statements also constitutes a false light invasion of my client’s right of privacy, and a violation of her rights of publicity.”
 
Truth Revolt has refused to back down.
 
Truth Revolt yesterday sent out an email calling for donations to help build a legal war chest.
 
“Liberal Hollywood actress and darling of Planned Parenthood, Lena Dunham, is gunning for the Freedom Center and Truth Revolt --- and now I urgently need your help to build up our legal defense fund,” said the email from David Horowitz.
 
The trouble for Truth Revolt in this case is that many of its subscribers probably have yet to see the message. Its email landed in my spam folder.
 
Because of my work, I have signed up for dozens of American political email programs across the ideological spectrum in the last decade or so. 
 
Over the years I have learned that political organizations share email addresses like potheads share bongs. Since they are exempt from the CAN-SPAM Act, American political organizations believe the rules of email deliverability don’t apply to them.
 
But email inbox providers and blocklist operators don’t care whether an emailer’s messages are CAN-SPAM compliant or not. They are concerned only with keeping spam out of users’ inboxes.
 
As a result, political email gets mostly shunted off into recipients’ spam folders—if they get delivered at all.
 
I have lost access to an email address I used to sign up for the lists of all the 2008 presidential primary contenders so I have no idea how that address is fairing these days.
 
However, I have also used my primary Gmail address to sign up for some political email. Very little of the political email sent to that address makes it into the inbox. For obvious reasons, I can’t know how much of it is blocked all together.
 
But the messages that currently do make it into my Gmail account for the most part get delivered into the address’s spam folder.
 
In other news, conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh has threatened to sue the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, alleging the group defamed him in an email claiming he advocated tolerating rape.
 
I get the occasional DCCC email, but did not receive the one with the allegations against Limbaugh. I never signed up for DCCC emails, so apparently they got my address from another Democrat organization.
 
It’s also safe to assume the DCCC’s deliverability record is less than stellar as a result of its spammy behavior.
 
So here we have two political organizations that suddenly must marshal their legal resources against two deep-pocketed mega-brands and probably can’t rely on what should be their most effective fundraising channel—all because seemingly everyone in politics refuses to believe they must follow the same rules in email marketing as the rest of us.
 
Maybe one day they’ll learn. Probably they won’t. But if Truth Revolt and the DCCC fail to raise enough money to fight Dunham and Limbaugh, they should probably take a good hard look at their email marketing practices.
 
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