About that “fastest-growing advocacy group in Vermont” thing…

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.  

5 thoughts on “About that “fastest-growing advocacy group in Vermont” thing…

  1. Actually, there’s no such thing as a “free market.” Well, maybe Somalia and some parts of India and Pakistan in some industries. In most of the rest of the world, there’s more regulation and less regulation.

    So CFVP is really anti-regulation and anti-tax for the owning class, not pro-“free market.”


    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

  2. and explains how a number of people’s names came to be on the Campaign for Vermont (Prosperity) rolls.  I’ve been puzzled by some of them, myself!  I wonder whether some are even aware that they are being announced as members?!

    Seems like a pretty dangerous course for the Listman to be charting…especially after wrapping himself in the transparency flag.   It suggests he was paying rather close attention to some of the less savory marketing practices of his Wall Street constituents.

    What do you bet that snookering “contact” feature suddenly changes within a week or so?

  3. Forewarned is forearmed — never underestimate the advanced investigational skills of GMD intelligentsia elite detective unit of gumshoes!

    Great job cracking the case ppl!

    Hastily-created CFV sockpuppet account:

    Maybe I am not getting your point (0.00 / 0)

    First to qualify: I am not a plant for CFV, or a troller on liberal blogs. My political leanings are definitely liberal. However I find the issue you are taking with the CFV website to be trivial. Designers purchase stock photography all the time to be used on the web and in print. I am sure you could find “non-Vermonter” stock photos on all kinds of sites about Vermont. I would be more impressed if you spent your time analyzing this organization’s intent, policies and practices.  

    bmike’s reply:

    I clarified (0.00 / 0)

    that I know folks use ‘stock’ photography all of the time for this sort of thing. If you check on some of the links, you’ll see that most of what I posted isn’t simply ‘stock’ – some of it looks lifted right off other websites and placed into the C4V header.

    Why post up images from the EU? How is that relevant? Why not just put up some Loony Tunes characters or Playboy bunnies if it doesn’t really matter? Becuase it does – each of those images hits certain stereotypical buttons in people… and covers certain cultural grounds.

    What I think is interesting is that this is supposedly all about ‘Vermont’ – its prosperity, its people, its $$, education, etc. etc. etc.

    IF you are campaigning for a better Vermont, why the hell aren’t they empowering Vermonters in their photos? And with all of Lisman’s money, couldn’t he hire a few VT photographers to shoot this stuff? And find some friends and families that would fit into those images? I mean, certainly they must know a diverse background of folks who support this bipartisan ‘campaign’ that would be willing to cover all the stereotypical multicultural bases they are working with…

    Then there is the transparency / copyright issue – C4V claims to own the copyright on all the materials. Did they buy these images? Or was this a sketch board concept that went live, with image placeholders that were never replaced (there, I just gave them an out! It was the wrong HTML file that the intern uploaded to the server!)

    To simply rip off images is very poor form on the design company that put this together. To not be ideologically strict enough to demand local Vermonters gracing these pages who support this ‘campaign’ – that is sloppiness on the part of the C4V founders. And to not be thorough enough to proof this shit before it goes live… do I want those folks working on our ‘prospeity’? Our energy policy? Etc. Etc.

    At a risk of bolstering their position – this shit should be bulletproof. And that may mean taking the time to proof what your web company is doing, before it goes live.

    thanks for taking the time to register @ 11:53 and then post this (you’re only comment) at 12:03.

    Dedication! I appreciate it, as some of my posts do not generate much discussion.



    Great job cracking this case ppl!

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