I was just idly trolling about the Campaign for Vermont (now with less Lisman!!!) website, when I clicked on the “CONTACT” button at the top of the page. Y’know, actually thinking it might be nice to meet the new executive director Cyrus Patten sometime. And I discovered something that shines a new light on CFV’s oft-repeated claim to be the “fastest-growing advocacy group in Vermont.”
Which is nonsense to begin with; all it means is that CFV is the youngest advocacy group in Vermont, so it started from zero in the relatively recent past.
Anyway, the “CONTACT” page does not provide an address and phone number; it’s just one of those “submit your question or comment” forms. But with a twist.
At the top, it doesn’t say “Submit your question.” It says “Add me to your growing list of Campaign for Vermont supporters.” Below that are two check boxes: “Lend my name to your growing list of supporters,” and “Please just add me to your weekly eNews list.”
Then come the spaces for name, address, etc., and a “Submit” button. And below that, way at the bottom of the page, you’ll find this disclaimer:
Submit Note: Unless you check the box above (E-News LIST ONLY), once you submit this form you have given Campaign for Vermont Prosperity, Inc., your approval to add your name to the growing list of Campaign for Vermont supporters listed on the website who believe prosperity and economic security for all Vermonters must be a priority.
Aha. The default setting is “become a supporter.” In other words, if you try to contact CFV and don’t pay close attention, you’ll find yourself publicly identified as a member of Campaign for Vermont. And if you do pay attention and opt out of membership, you’ll still be on CFV’s email list.
This isn’t a “CONTACT” page — it’s a registration page. There is no way to simply contact CFV without signing yourself up for something.
I wonder how many of CFV’s thousand-plus “members” inadvertently volunteered themselves through this webpage.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a huge deal. Deceptive webpage or no, CFV’s membership claims are bullshit. Until it actually costs something to join CFV, “membership” is meaningless. Especially coming from a group founded by Bruce Lisman, who has talked about the importance of “having skin in the game” with regard to taxation. His “members” have no skin in the CFV game, and until they do, the group is more Potemkin village than grassroots movement.
And on top of all that, CFV’s bogus “CONTACT” page is yet another sign of the organization’s bad faith.
Also, note the reappearance of CFV’s full legal name: Campaign for Vermont Prosperity, Inc. CFV generally omits the “Prosperity” part, as it tries to position itself as a group with broad centrist concerns (rather than a group founded and funded by a Wall Street millionaire with strong free-market beliefs). But the group’s full name should not be forgotten; it’s a sign of where their priorities really lie.