Cards Against Humanity, the self-described "party game for horrible people," has sent some weird stuff to people as part of its "Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa" promotion. About 250,000 people paid $15 for the chance to receive 10 strange presents in the mail this December.
This is the same company that sent out "Bulls***" on Black Friday. As in the real deal, not the metaphor.
As part of its holiday promotion, Cards Against Humanity sent out new card packs for its game, stickers (that are not intended for vandalism) and comic strips.
So why are we writing about this on The Fix, a political blog? Because on the ninth day of its Kwanzaa promotion, it sent each of those 250,000 lucky people a long, long, long list of all the donations received by each senator in the recipient's state. For those living in D.C. — who don't have senators — Cards Against Humanity listed the names of donors for soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Some of the scrolls were very, very long — even when double-sided.
— Butch Doty (@ButchDotyIRL) December 16, 2014
— Ryan Kent (@RyanCKent) December 16, 2014
— Nate Erwin (@Nate_Erwin) December 18, 2014
How'd the company collect all that data? Using information provided by the Sunlight Foundation, of course. Some diehard Cards Against Humanity fans learned about the campaign-finance- and transparency-focused group for the first time through this holiday promotion.
So cards against humanity sent me this in the mail, from an organisation called the sunlight foundation that works to make government more transparent. Anyway this is a list of business donors and the amount they donated to Richard Shelby this year, who wasn't even up for election. This is what is wrong with politics. #politics
A photo posted by Ryan Scruggs (@tryans) on Dec 12, 2014 at 4:47pm PST
And how on Earth did Cards Against Humanity and the Sunlight Foundation team up in the first place? You can thank "House of Cards." At the end of last year, the Netflix show asked Cards Against Humanity to create a new card pack to promote the series' second season. Cards Against Humanity decided to donate the money it received. "It’s not really our business model to get paid by a big company to write jokes," it wrote on the company Tumblr, "so we donated an amount of money that is more than $49,999 and less than $50,001 to one of our favorite non-profits, The Sunlight Foundation."
Because this is the Internet, Cards Against Humanity also made a video about how it made the donation, soundtracked by W.G. Snuffy Walden.
"We were really surprised," says Gabriela Schneider, communications director at the Sunlight Foundation. "It was a no-strings-attached donation, which is pretty rare," she added, laughing.
Cards Against Humanity wanted to work with the Sunlight Foundation again — and maybe return to the group when it made its big end-of-the-year charitable donation, which it has previously given to nonprofits such as Wikipedia.
During a brainstorming session, the idea for listing donations to senators was born. "It was inspired by the fact that we have been pushing Congress to pass legislation to make the Senate electronically file their campaign finance reports," Schneider said. House members and candidates have been filing electronically for more than a decade; the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act would make this common practice for both legislative chambers.
Schneider says Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin was "appalled" when he learned about this discrepancy. "He saw it as an opportunity to raise awareness to his followers about how government works, and how it's so antiquated," she said.
When the Sunlight Foundation saw that Cards Against Humanity was looking to hire developers to work with campaign finance data, the foundation knew that the company was serious about campaign finance. After the long lists of donations finally were sent out, the Sunlight Foundation received plenty of great feedback from people horrified by all the small print in their mailbox. Some people, Schneider says, were even able to decorate their Christmas trees in campaign finance data.
Cards Against Humanity clearly had some fun with the data, too, judging from the infographic on its Web site. It thought of all the ways it could bribe politicians if it took $1 from each of the 250,000 people who paid for "Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa." It turns out that $250,000 could buy 11,363 Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s pizzas for Herman Cain, 47,528 Pizza Lunchables and 10,049 pairs of child-size work gloves for Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), and a gold casket for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).
In the end, it just gave the $250,000 to the Sunlight Foundation.
For more political fun, we hope reporters desperate for some end-of-the-year copy start asking elected officials to sum up 2014 in one Cards Against Humanity card.