Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

When candidates spam

Wednesday morning will bring blessed relief to all Americans in — or even near — the battleground states, who have suffered most in the endless barrage of a billion-dollar television ad war.

And another group — the unfortunate folks, including non-battleground-state residents — deluged by e-mails from the candidates incessantly badgering them for money — will be able to log on in peace.

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.

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All lawmakers in competitive races have been clogging America’s inboxes, begging for cash. One of our favorites was from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the former presidential candidate whose fundraising machine may have been one of the most persistent. And she wouldn’t be ignored.

Bachmann’s in a competitive race, though she’s favored to win. (The Washington Post has it leaning Republican.) Still, she got just 53 percent of the vote in 2010 — and that was without President Obama at the top of the ticket. So here’s how she’s raised huge amounts of cash to hold on to her seat.

A July 16 e-mail said she knew “our time was extremely valuable,” so she wanted “$25, $50, $100 or more” to defeat her opponent, wealthy businessman Jim Graves, and “fight leftist Democrats like Nancy Pelosi.”

Two days later she e-mailed that she was “very concerned you haven’t responded” to that e-mail.

On Aug. 17 we got an e-mail noting a headline that morning raising a frightening possibility: “Could Bachmann lose?”

“The answer,” she said, “is without your immediate support, yes.” So she wanted another $25, $50, $100 or more.

On Sept. 25, we got a “Confidential Campaign Update,” since she said we were “one of my best supporters.”

Then outgoing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) showed up in Minnesota on Oct. 3, sparking another request for money. The next day, came another e-mail: “As I wrote you yesterday . . . ”

The Oct. 24 e-mail asked for a more modest “contribution of $25, $50 or even $100?” Not more than that.

The next day she seemed a bit anxious: “Please — if you can — stop what you are doing right now” and listen to a message.

The day after that she e-mailed that “I sent you the below e-mail yesterday, and I’m concerned that I haven’t heard back from you.”

On Oct. 31, she sent another request. The next day her campaign manager leaned on us. Hey, he said, “Michele hasn’t heard back from you and she asked me to follow up this morning.”

No more wishy-washy. “Your $50 contribution today is desperately needed,” he wrote. “Click here to make a secure donation right now!

Blind panic set in on Saturday:

“NO TIME TO EXPLAIN.

“I JUST GOT WORD BILL CLINTON IS COMING TO MY DISTRICT TOMORROW TO PERSONALLY CAMPAIGN AGAINST ME.

“I need your support right away!! Please go to my website . . . and make an immediate donation.”

And she REALLY needs it. After all, Bachmann has raised just $13 million this cycle, more than all House hopefuls but one.

So, would a donation end the e-mails? Not likely. In fact, donations just egg them on. Remember that for 2014.

Those were the days

Fun factoid floating around: When was the last time a Republican won the presidency without either a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket?

The answer: 1928 (Herbert Hoover).

Unforgiven

Election seasons are an especially bad time for people seeking pardons for federal offenses. Obama, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush did not pardon anyone during their campaigns for a second term.

And Obama, who hasn’t pardoned anyone since November 2011, has pardoned people at a lower rate than any of his recent predecessors, according to a report Friday by the nonprofit investigative organization ProPublica.

Obama has pardoned only about one of every 50 people “whose applications were processed by the Justice Department,” according to ProPublica’s Dafna Linzer.

At the same time in their presidencies, Reagan has pardoned one of every three applicants, Bush I had pardoned one in 16, Clinton had pardoned one in eight and Bush II had pardoned one in 33.

Pardons don’t wipe away convictions, but they restore full rights to vote, get business licenses and so forth. Commutations, on the other hand, mean early release from federal prison. Obama has been leery of granting commutations as well. He has commuted the sentence of only one person, a woman with terminal leukemia, the report found.

Under Reagan and Clinton, people seeking commutations had a 1-in-100 chance. Under George W. Bush, that fell to about one in 1,000. But under Obama the odds fell to less than one in 5,000.

Unclear why Obama has declined to show at least as much mercy as his predecessors. It could be that the Justice Department, which sends its recommendations to the White House, doesn’t endorse many applications.

Or maybe he’s a bit leery of issuing pardons in the wake of the infamous Clinton pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich .

Correction

Friday’s column had Sen. John Hoeven (R) representing Montana. The March fundraiser we listed is in Montana, but he’s from North Dakota.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter:@InTheLoopWP

 
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