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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.

The CEO of the association, which represents the commercial casino industry, is Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. , former chairman of the Republican Party. Fahrenkopf headed the GOP during most of the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

Kennelly to Head Council of Aging Groups

The gavel at the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations has passed from Bill Novelli , chief executive of AARP, to Barbara B. Kennelly , chief executive of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Kennelly, a former Democratic representative from Connecticut, said the council, which represents 53 senior advocacy groups, will fight Social Security privatization.

Other groups in the council include the Alzheimer's Association, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Public Health Association, the Association of Jewish Aging Services, Catholic Health Association of the United States, the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged and the National Hispanic Council on Aging.

Moving On

Adam D. Schwartz , former vice president of external affairs for the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, will start Tuesday at the National Cooperative Business Association as vice president for public affairs and member services. He succeeds Jeannine Kenney , who left this year for Consumers Union.

Carol Wayman has joined CFED as senior federal policy director. She previously worked for the National Congress for Community Economic Development. CFED, a nonprofit, was established in 1979 as the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Julie Kabous , a veteran of the American Gas Association, joins Motorola's global government relations office, where she is specializing in appropriations issues.

Michael Fratantoni , most recently director of economic and policy research in Fannie Mae's regulatory policy division, has joined the Mortgage Bankers Association as senior director for single-family research. He will be responsible for managing research on policy issues.

Jerry Franz , an executive vice president at Porter Novelli , has joined Spectrum Science Communications as executive vice president. Earlier, he worked at the American Diabetes Association.

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