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Tag Archive: Ron Paul

Turkey Sandwiches, Ron Paul, and Internet Democracy

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In July 2003 Vice President Dick Cheney was in Columbia, South Carolina for a fancy sit-down lunch with 150 big-money donors willing to kick in the maximum $2,000 to the reelection campaign of Cheney and President George W. Bush. Dick Cheney was to raise $250,000 from this exclusive group of black-tie diners in one afternoon. This would be an ordinary event for any campaign and lost in the pages of history, but this fundraiser is remembered for another reason. And that reason can best be symbolized in the form of a turkey sandwich.

Prior to the Cheney fundraiser, supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean were gathered online at the Dean’s Blog for America trying to figure out ways that the campaign could continue its small donor driven campaign fundraising success. One idea floated about was for the campaign to try and match the Cheney fundraiser dollar-for-dollar in online donations. The day of Cheney’s fundraiser the campaign posted a picture of Dean, eating a turkey sandwich while blogging, on their site asking supporters to chip in what they could to match the black-tie Cheney event. By 12:30 the next day the campaign had raised over $500,000, or twice as much as the Cheney event netted.

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The Machine is Using Ron Paul

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A lot of Internet and politics experts have been sitting around waiting for someone in the 2008 presidential race to emerge as the next Net candidate in the mold of Howard Dean. After last night it appears that that candidate has been found. Ron Paul, a backbench 9-term congressman who previously sought the presidency on the Libertarian ticket in 1988, raised over $4 million online yesterday to set the record for most money raised by a presidential candidate online in a 24 hour span. The amazing thing about this haul of money is that it was not organized by the campaign but was instead a supporter generated “cashmob”. (The supporters actually referred to it as a “money-bomb”.) The Paul campaign took advantage of their supporter’s enthusiasm by creating the most transparent campaign finance decision possible: to publish in real-time each online donation as it happens. By making their campaign finance transparent the Paul campaign encouraged their supporters to do their own work by showing them exactly what they were accomplishing. It’s Howard Dean’s bat on crack.

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Ron Paul and Real Time Transparency

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My continuing joke about Ron Paul around the Sunlight office is that he would win in a landslide if all of his supporter’s MMORPG characters were allowed to vote. (That’s massively multiplayer online role playing game for those not hip to the slang.) All jokes aside, it appears that Paul’s supporters can sure raise a lot of money. In the 3rd Quarter of this year Ron Paul raised just over $5 million putting him slightly behind a former frontrunner John McCain, who raised $6 million. Paul has now set a goal of raising $12 million in the 4th Quarter and is using his Web site to show progress in achieving that goal.

Where Howard Dean had his bat Ron Paul has his Statue of Liberty. The Statue measures the amount raised so far, updating in real time, as Paul reaches his goal of $4 million in October. While Dean and others used these kinds of visuals tools to highlight fundraising during a key period this kind of fundraising transparency has never been done in real time over an entire quarter. Paul’s Web site also shows the names and hometowns of the donors. All of this data cries for one thing and one thing only: user generated content!

Paul’s Internet supporters instantly took all of this information and created their own site, RonPaulGraphs.com, which breaks down the fundraising into tons and tons of graphs. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

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Talk of Transparency on Campaign Trail

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The Reason Foundation has been getting the presidential candidates to talk more about transparency on the campaign trail by asking them to sign a pledge to run a transparent administration and fully enforce the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, also known as Coburn-Obama. The FFATA requires the Office of Management and Budget to disclose all federal funding contracts, grants, and earmarks in a searchable database. The Sunlight Foundation was a part of a coalition of groups that worked to pass the bill, in particular working to out the Senator with a secret hold on the bill. So far, three candidates - Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and Sam Brownback - have signed the pledge. It's great to see transparency taking a hold as an issue in the 2008 presidential election. Hopefully, we'll hear from more candidates on the issue soon. For now, check out below for the statements made by the three pledge signees.

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