Fake Tea Party Groups Selling Subscriber Data to Marketers

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    The issue of Tea Party members’ emails being sold to all manner of advertisers has become such a problem that the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) felt the need to issue a statement:

    Many of you have inquired to ask us about JoinTheTeaParty.us, and TheTeaParty.net. There is apparently confusion between TPP and their organization and we are getting regular emails asking us if TPP is operating as TeaParty.net or JointheTeaParty.us. Numerous organizers have complained to us that their information is listed on those sites and that they cannot get it taken off despite repeated requests…  It now appears from the email below that they are offering their list to advertisers through NewsMax. So it seems that these websites are collecting data and donations from tea party supporters across the nation, and using the money they collect from donors to allow them to market more and collect more data which they make available to advertisers through NewsMax.

    Read the email below to see how Newsmax is selling TheTeaParty.net’s subscriber data:

    TPP got a hold of this email and wanted to send it to its members along with a clarification that TPP does not engage in this type of activity.  

    Of course, if you go to theteaparty.net, there is no warning that your email will be used for the purposes of selling ever-larger lists to advertisers.  If you look at their page, “What Donations are Used For,” it states that

    Currently about 70% of the donations received go to marketing, promotion, recruiting, communicating and educating on the tea party movement and principles.

    Maybe “Freedom Organizer” Todd Cefaratti should change his job title.

    • TheTeaParty.net

      http://theteaparty.net/truth-a

      The one “ground zero” article at the basis of this additional email smear was in error.  The story revolves around a local liberal TV reporter hatchet job way back 3 days before the election that shows we are doing absolutely nothing wrong. Their attack says we are not spending money on candidates. The liberal reporter didn’t do his homework. As a 501 (c)(4) organization, we are not allowed to endorse or spend money on political candidates.

      Curious that the reporter explains his motivation by writing “…began its investigation into the company after receiving a phone call from an East Coast tea party activist who said nobody within the tea party movement he had spoken to had heard of the Mesa organization.” Another smear came about recently in the form of an email to its database by an “East Coast” tea party that accused us of selling personal data.  

      We recruit, educate, help Tea Party groups start up, and engage in events to promote Tea Party movement membership. We don’t compromise our list.  To help support our recruitment and education efforts, we have sponsors who broadcast over our list through our emails. These messages are sent by us to our list with an introduction to please read message from our sponsor. Similar concept to banner ad on a website or an ad in a newspaper. Sponsors don’t have access to our list.

      We are donating to several conservative organizations, like CPAC and Wounded Warriors Project, just to name a few. We have been involved in many events and recently sponsored the media lounge at CPAC 2011 plus had booth there.

      We provided a statement in response to the postings that have been popping up based on the “ground zero” article and from the ensuing smear campaign sent from an East Coast tea party group. All smear postings have been based on these two questionable activities. I hope you’ll read “The Truth About TheTeaParty.net posted above.”  Thank you for your consideration.  

      Additionally, have you read these on the group who smeared us?

      Tea Party Patriots Investigated: “They Use You and Abuse You” (1 of 3)

      http://motherjones.com/politic

      Tea Party Patriots Investigated: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (2 of 3)

      http://motherjones.com/politic

      Tea Party Patriots Investigated: The Tax-Dodging Treasurer (3 of 3)

      http://motherjones.com/politic

      A Secret Tea Party Donor Revealed

      http://motherjones.com/politic

      Is the Tea Party Movement Like a Pyramid Scheme?

      http://motherjones.com/politic

      Where’d the Tea Party’s Secret Money Go?

      http://motherjones.com/politic

    • I read your comment and your statement, “The Truth About TheTeaParty.net.”  I think you are trying to split hairs and skip over the main problem with what you are doing:

      You are selling access to your subscribers’ email accounts.

      Whether you give them the actual emails, or whether you are calling your customers “sponsors” and routing their advertisements yourself, you’re still selling access.  

      Why haven’t you addressed the NewsMax email above?  It clearly states, “Now Available: TheTeaParty.net Email List.”

      I don’t doubt your conservative beliefs, but what you’re running is really not much more than a marketing campaign.  It’s obvious that a lot of people who sign up on your website didn’t know that they were signing up for a bunch of unsolicited advertisements.  You need to increase your subscriber base so you can sell access to the advertisers.  You’re essentially taking advantage of your subscribers. (I wonder how much you get paid for every unsolicited ad that lands in your subscribers’ inboxes?)  If you’re okay with that, then so be it.  But don’t get all righteously indignant when people call you out on it.  

    • TheTeaParty.net

      I didn’t realize the detail level you required. My apologies. Basically, as with newspaper, magazine, website, emails, etc., the publication gives the demographics so that businesses can “reach” the audience (demographics). When a publisher states “list” in regards to email, they’re talking about reaching the “list” as in reaching the “readership.” In print, it’s readership or subscriber; in email, it’s “lists” or subscribers. It does not literally mean they’re renting, selling or letting them see the subscription list. That would be like saying every time an advertiser places a print ad in a magazine, the magazine publisher is letting them see their subscriber list. That is NOT how it works. If you can visualize “space” in an email as same concept as “space” in a publication or “space” on a website for a banner or display ad, perhaps that analogy will help you understand.

      Our list membership is informed on signup. They can unsubscribe at any time if they desire to. Our readership can read the sponsor ads, delete the emails or unsubscribe at any time. Like any reader of a newspaper, blog, etc., they are in full control of their reading material.

      If this doesn’t help clear it up for you, try a local marketing professor at a university or call your local newspaper and have them explain to you about space.  Commercials in television are same concept. Without them, the shows aren’t paid for and would require other ways to fund them.  

    • I can think of dozens of other organizations, including other Tea Party groups, who don’t need to sell ads in order to operate.  Besides, you collect donations on top of your ad revenue.  You’re a group that does almost zero real life on-the-ground organizing (as opposed to the other groups), so why do you need to sell access to your subscribers? (It’s still selling access, even if they’re not looking at your subscriber list.)  Does it really take that much money to run a website?  Can you really call yourself a nonprofit, or are you more like a marketing firm?

      It’s not the same as reading a newspaper.  My email inbox is not for sale the same way a space in a newspaper is, or a banner space on a website for that matter.  If it were, then the pricing would be the same.  I expect to see ads when I go to websites.  Also, users are not informed ahead of time.  The top of your website has a field to submit your email address for updates.  That could automatically sign them up for unsolicited advertisements.  

      I consider your type of sponsorship to be more similar to getting unsolicited telemarketing calls as a result of giving my phone number to a nonprofit group.  Just because I can ask them to stop calling doesn’t make it okay.

      One last question about the “ground zero” article you say is just a smear.  Is the Federal Elections Commission report fake, or real?  If it is real, then you are a political organization even of you don’t donate to candidates.