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Craigslist ads recruiting 'Obamacare' lobbyists

Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 08/10/2009 @ 9:14 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled

Amid accusations of insurance companies and the Republican Party deploying “Astroturf mobs” of health reform opponents, help wanted ads are appearing on Craigslist that offer to pay citizens between $9 and $16 an hour to lobby for the passage of Obama’s health care.

The ads are being posted by the Fund for the Public Interest, which describes itself as “a national nonprofit organization working to increase the visibility, membership and political power of the nation’s leading environmental and progressive groups.”


Craigslist  ads for Sacramento-area workers to “help pass Obama’s plans”

One Sacramento Craig’s List ad declares, “Help pass Obama’s health care reform! Earn $325-$550 per week!”

It states:

Why is now the time to work for change?

Because we have a new president and new hope for a better America.

Because we need change like never before, on everything from the economy to climate change and more.

And because we know that the challenges we face, from ending our dependence on oil to winning the battle for equal rights, are huge – and the politicians and powerful interests who stupidly and stubbornly resist change aren’t calling it quits anytime soon.

America’s leading advocacy groups are gearing up to meet these challenges this summer. In order to win, they need citizen support and grass-roots action. That’s where we come in.

At the Fund for the Public Interest, we’ve been organizing campaigns to protect the environment, stand up for the public interest, and defend human rights for more than 25 years. We’ve helped cut global warming pollution with Environment America. And working with the Human Rights Campaign, we helped organize the grass-roots opposition needed to defeat the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment.

Another Craigslist ad in San Francisco invited prospective applicants to “join motivated staff around the country working to make change happen.”

“Now is our chance to make health care work,” it states. “America’s health care system is broken. Health care costs are spiraling out of control, throwing families, businesses and government into financial crisis. Families are worried their health coverage won’t be there when they need it. Our country can’t afford to wait for health reform that keeps costs down and protects consumers. We can’t wait for affordable, dependable health care.”

The same ad ran in the Craigslist Washington, D.C., section.

Similar ads were posted in Minneapolis, Minn., and Columbus, Ohio, sections.

Several blogs have noted that health care recruitment ads posted by the Fund for the Public Interest are springing up across the nation.

The Fund, listed as a top employer of college graduates, is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization exempt from some federal income taxes that is hired by other political non-profits, such as the Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, Greenpeace, state Public Interest Research Groups and Environment America. Workers conduct door-to-door campaigns, street fundraising and telephone campaigns.

A recent federal class action lawsuit brought by thousands of current and former canvassers charges that the organization has paid less than minimum wage and refused to pay overtime compensation to its canvassers who work the streets collecting signatures and donations.

The D.C. Writeup reports that the Fund for the Public Interest “shuts down offices without prior notice, and fires workers if they do not collect enough donations.”

According to the report, “The Fund has also been accused of facilitating voter fraud. In the summer of 2008, three people working for the Community Voters Project, which was affiliated with the Fund, were accused of filing fake voter applications in Virginia. The three found names from telephone directories and then, with made up Social Security numbers and birth dates, submitted the forms to election registrars.”

According to its website, the Fund for the Public Interest has been hiring summer workers for door-to-door and street canvassing campaigns in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

A December 2007 report posted on The Hill reveals that then-Sen. Obama announced a plan to “get more Americans to participate in public service, including the establishment of a Craigslist-like online network for volunteers.”

“Loving your country shouldn’t just mean watching fireworks on the Fourth of July; loving your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it,” Obama said. “And if you do stand up, I promise you that your life will be richer, and our country will be stronger.”

As WND reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused attendees at health care town hall meetings of being part of an “Astroturf” movement, saying she didn’t believe the angry constituents represented a legitimate grass-roots opposition – and the Democratic National Committee called citizens “angry mobs” who are “seeking to destroy Obama.”

Obama’s own 2008 political campaign, merged with the Democratic National Committee in January and now known as Organizing for America, is also calling on Obama supporters to show up at local representatives’ offices to show support for health reform.

“As you’ve probably seen in the news, special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform, and it’s getting ugly,” a letter from Organizing for America states. “Across the country, members of Congress who support reform are being shouted down, physically assaulted, hung in effigy, and receiving death threats. We can’t let extremists hijack this debate, or confuse Congress about where the people stand.”

The group even offers to provide “information to drop off about how the health care crisis affects your state (with the option of adding your personal story)” and “a step-by-step guide” for pushing health “reform” at district offices.


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