A Marriage Group's 'Interesting' Union

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, June 2, 2005

With an Internet store and online fundraising and advocacy, to say nothing of 1 million free bumper stickers, the Alliance for Marriage is trying to build up support for its proposed constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

In the process, AFM is finding itself in league with what its president, Matt Daniels , refers to as "interesting bedfellows."

"Our overarching goal is to build a national grass-roots army," Daniels said in an interview.

Along with the Spalding Group, which developed and maintains the George W. Bush Online Store, AFM recently launched AFMstore.com, where the committed can buy a "Protect Marriage" T-shirt for $13.95 or coffee mug for $8.95 with the AFM ring logo, or a yard sign for $6.95. Spalding Group is donating 1 million stickers for supporters.

"It is difficult to create a grass-roots movement without materials that allow people to publicly identify with the issue," said Ted Jackson , president and founder of Spalding Group, in a statement. Spalding Group notes on its Web site that it works exclusively for Republican candidates and groups.

But Daniels said AFM is also working with Convio Inc. for online fundraising and advocacy services to build up its army of citizen-lobbyists. Convio helped Democrat Howard Dean raise millions of dollars online and recruit large numbers of supporters for his presidential bid.

"They gave us an excellent deal," Daniels said of Convio. "Convio allows us to reach, motivate and retain supporters using online communication, fundraising, team-building and advocacy tools."

"I've already been criticized by some on the right and that's okay," Daniels said, referring to some groups' opposition to the language in AFM's proposed amendment allowing states to deal with civil unions and benefits. He also noted that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) was among the winners of the annual "Defender of Marriage" award. "The issue and cause of marriage is fundamentally more important than party."

For its part, Convio has a "Right to Be Heard Policy" on its Web site, explaining that it provides Internet software and services equally to law-abiding nonprofit organizations, regardless of their missions, issues and positions. The company said it does not advocate on behalf of its clients and noted that it "does not work with groups that promote prejudice and hate even if they are in full compliance with the law."

New Clients for Racicot

Marc Racicot , former chairman of the Bush-Cheney '04 reelection campaign, is busy in the private sector these days.

Racicot, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani and former governor of Montana, registered to lobby in recent weeks on behalf of Fannie Mae (the issue: government regulations) and for Bechtel Infrastructure Inc. (the issue: roads and highways). In February, he filed his lobbying intentions for SBC Telecommunications Inc.

Laxalt Joins Casino Lobbying Effort

Speaking of senior Republicans . . . former Sen. Paul D. Laxalt (Nev. ) and Tom Loranger , his Senate aide, of the Paul Laxalt Group , are lobbying on behalf of the American Gaming Association.

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