The Romney Machine

From my inbox:

Hi Julie,

[My wife] has now received two letters from Mitt Romney asking her for
money, one at our [previous state’s] address and one at our new [state’s]
address. One letter started with “Dear Republican voter.”

The problem with this is that [my wife] never registered as a Republican
anywhere, and registered as a Democrat in [old state] and [new state].
She’s never given any money to the Republicans–though she has to the
Democrats and the Greens. She has never voted for a Republican for
president, though she has voted for a few down ballot. Where did Mitt get
her name? Two options, one unsavory, the other downright awful. It’s
either BYU alumni records–and it’s a safe bet to think that those people
are Republicans–or it’s Church records. I really, really hope it’s
not the second.

Is my friend’s wife an aberration?

64 comments for “The Romney Machine

  1. hpm
    January 27, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Sadly, no. I received a Romney appeal in the mail yesterday, though I’m neither a registered Republican nor a BYU alum. Like your friend, I really, really hope my ward list isn’t in play.

  2. Ronan
    January 27, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Say it ain’t so. Please.

  3. January 27, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    If it’s anything like how I get phone calls from the folks with Living Scriptures, I wouldn’t bet against it being the second. However, it doesn’t have to quite be that way; All that somebody has to do is to convince some well-meaning but not-too-logically-thinking ward member into naming a few of their other ward members (would it be wrong, then, to look up a few ward members in the ‘phone book’? I mean, you aren’t really looking at the ward list, are you?). There’s this one sister in my ward who puts my name down every time some salesman comes to call at her house. She sees it as helping out the ‘nice young man’. Betcha that’s what is going on.

  4. January 27, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Oh! I just thought of another thing (and this means I’m confessing); the opening page of the Romney financial contribution site asks you to list your friends that you think might be interested in the message. I hate those kind of things, so I left it blank and passed through to the next page. But imagine what would happen if some ‘friend’ of yours thought your wife would be interested in contributing.

    That is the most likely culprit of all.

  5. Téa
    January 27, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    My husband received mailings as well, and again, is not a registered Republican. If it’s not a “straight off the roster” kind of thing, it’s one of his LDS-GOP relatives. You know, the ones who forward everything in their inbox to anybody in the address book…

  6. January 27, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    There really is no way the church records are in play. It is possible that people refer their LDS friends, relatives and neighbors, though. As I understand it, this was much more common when Hatch was going for gold. There are other possibilities as well, I get pleas for money from all sorts of Democrats (esp. Hillary) because I took the New Republic for some time. Private companies distribute personal information all the time, and there are a lot of “Mormon” companies.

  7. Thomas Parkin
    January 27, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Ronan, it ain’t so.

    Maybe Baby Jesus is giving him your names.

    This would not, perhaps, be as likely to touch a sore spot as opining that the church is doing it. But it would be more interesting, metaphysically, and not much more fantastic. It would be tougher, naturally, to feel badly towards Baby Jesus than towards those nasty Republicans (will they stop at nothing???) and their lackeys in Salt Lake.

    I lived ten years in the most liberal neighborhood in Seattle – one of, of not the, most liberal cities in this country. I have conservative, rather than ‘progressive’ instincts (I fully consider myself ‘liberal’ in any meaningful sense of the word). So, I do understand what being the underdog can do to one’s psyche, over time. And I am myself a registered Democrat (like my father before me and his father before him (my mother’s family are\were Republicans)), – and so I have some idea of being outnumbered politically in one’s own backyard, even in the church. But Lord, if there is one thing that is going to tire me of your bloggernacle before I even really immerse myself in it, it is the constant political bellyaching. It is easy – that’s right, I said easy – to be a Democrat and normative Mormon. And if you’ve gotten to the point where all it takes is a piece of mail that might just as well be tossed aside as even considered to get your goat, I think it’s time for a gut check.

    And I’m feeling a little ornery – so there.


  8. Gilgamesh
    January 27, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    It’s not the church, though nit could be a “well meaning” member in your area. We have an LDS elected official here that was having some difficult time gaining support. The head of the county Republican party, another LDS member and former high-counselor- used the stake email lists to email every high-priest and elder to forward a letter beeging for our support from this beloved Mormon, and Republican, candidate.

    The Church wasn’t the culprit, an unethical high counselor was.

    As a Republican, I was going to vote for his because I agrees with his views. That turned me to the opther party for his seat.

  9. KyleM
    January 27, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    I’ve received letters like that from candidates from both parties. I’m not registered with either party.

  10. Matt Evans
    January 27, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    I agree with coffinberry and J. Stapley.

    Thousands of consultants work full-time figuring out where direct mail fund raising letters should be spent. The cost of sending an invitation like the one Julie’s correspondent received is about 40 cents for the paper, printing and bulk-rate postage, so it’s cost-effective to send a pitch to anyone you believe has better than a 1 in 50 chance of donating $20. For Mitt Romney’s election campaign that would include all of Utah and Massachusetts, affluent zip codes, red precincts, married couples with children, church goers, home owners, newspaper subscribers, etc. And of course it would include the friends and family his supporters say are likely to contribute.

  11. ducks
    January 27, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    I received a slick \”thank you\” from the Bush\’s that appeared to be personally signed by them which of course accompanied a request for money. I have never donated to a Republican and have no idea why I would be targeted except that I live in an overwhelmingly Republican state and neighborhood. It did result in some snickers at work when I showed it around since no one there mistakes me for a Repub. It was put on my bulletin board as a standing joke.
    It would be a huge mistake to assume the address was gleaned from either a ward or stake roster. #10\’s explanation is far more reasonable.

  12. Sheldon
    January 27, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    I doubt BYU alum lists or Church lists are formally involved..

    Don’t you think that people who get random visits from the missionaries wonder how they end up at their doorsteps? Same way people are getting on Romney lists! “Name names, and we’ll leave you alone!” It’s no different (or worse) than the cards that the sister missionaries coerce you into filling out at Temple Square…

  13. Otto
    January 28, 2007 at 2:34 am

    I doubt somebody’s using church lists. But…. does Deseret Book sell their mailing lists? What about Living Scriptures? NuSkin? Xango?

  14. January 28, 2007 at 3:51 am

    All political parties/candidates do this. I\’m not sure where they get their lists, but there\’s obviously something a little screwy in the process. For instance, my husband keeps getting grassroots surveys for local Democratic leaders from Howard Dean. He\’s staunchly Rebuplican (and registered as such), and always has been. His whole family is Republican (and I mean parents, siblinigs, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, everyone), he attended the Y, he even led our ward effort to support the anti-same-sex-marriage law in TX. (This was hard for me, since I didn\’t really agree with it, but he was called by our bishopric, who\’d received a letter from the First Presidency asking us to support it, so I just bit my tongue and tried to stay out of the way.) I\’m not sure what led them to think he was a local Democratic leader.

    Anyway, sorry for the tangent. And in more direct response to your query I don\’t know how the campaign got your friend\’s name, but I\’m fairly certain it wasn\’t church records. You never know what seemingly innocent thing you do or buy is going to get you on someone\’s mailing list.

  15. Peter
    January 28, 2007 at 8:11 am


    If you’ve gotten to the point that all it takes is some political bellyaching that might just as well be ignored as even considered to get your goat, well…

  16. Ronan
    January 28, 2007 at 8:14 am


  17. January 28, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I’m a registered Republican who has donated (albeit small amounts) to Republican causes, and I didn’t get a letter. I’ve also never been to BYU, and my ward doesn’t publish a list, and I don’t have political discussions with my neighbors. However I am an adjunct professor (that is, whenever they have work for me) and my area is not quite so “red” as other areas of Utah. Take that for whatever it’s worth.

  18. Paula
    January 28, 2007 at 11:34 am

    My mom’s a registered Democrat who donates to the Democrats, and she got a Mitt letter. My guess is that someone decided to turn in a whole list from the ward directory to the campaign.

  19. Ardis Parshall
    January 28, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Back in the day, I sent a $5 check to the Oliver North defense fund. I’d been between jobs and had watched the hearings, and thought the entertainment was worth at least that much. it was an eye-opener — Ollie North’s machine spent so many times more than that $5 soliciting more money from me, and for a long time I was on the mailing list of other conservative groups. The same thing happened in reverse during my short and disillusioning connection with Amnesty International.

    If you feel strongly about any political organization, I’m of the opinion that the best financial contribution you can make is to send a small amount to the *opponent.* You’ll drain the opposition coffers of far more than you could deposit into your candidate’s war chest.

  20. xenophobe
    January 28, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Actually, I happen to know for a fact that Mormons are being selected out through census records and CIA interrogation of Mormon agnets. Fear for your children, Big Brother is here.

  21. Nate Oman
    January 28, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Ardis: There is actually an economic logic to spending money on direct mail. Everyone knows that soliciting donations from lots of little donors simply doesn’t pay very well. On the other hand, there is political (and fundraising) power in beging able to say “X gazillions ‘little guys’ have donated to my campaign.” Direct mail is window dressing before you get down to the serious business of talking to the PACs and the bigger donors. Although given current contribution limits, raising any real money even through those guys is a grueling process.

  22. Starfoxy
    January 28, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    I highly, highly doubt that the church is involved in any large scale purchase of names. I can’t even begin to imagine how many internal policies and tax laws the church would be violating if it did that.

    On the other hand I don’t discount the idea that some misguided individual members may be misusing their ward rosters in their local campaign efforts (I’m thinking “Paid for by citizens of Podunk USA for Mitt”). Professional looking mass mailers are surprisingly easy to put out on a local level. Often the postcards, or letters are designed and printed on a national scale then shipped to local campaign centers to be used with locally compiled lists. It isn’t for nothing that bishops still have to read the letters that say “Ward rosters, phone numbers and mailing lists are not to be used for political purposes.”

  23. Mark D. Butler
    January 28, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    One possibility is that she voted in a Republican primary. Vote to select a Republican candidate, end up on their mailing list, simple as that.

  24. January 28, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Hmmm. I get “Dear Democratic voter” and “Dear Republicn voter” ads all the time from all sorts of candidates – and I’ve never registered for either party.

    methinks people are looking for reasons to be offended by Romney. Get over it. You don’t agree with his politics – fine. Stop making every little thing he does a reason to attack him – especially when many of you (if you really admitted it) would give Harry Reid a pass on the same sort of thing.

    Heck, PBS (which is meant to be non-partisan) once shared subscriber lists with the Democratic party, and my dad, as a member of a teachers union (which is also suppossed to be non-partisan), has gotten mail from Democratic campaigns. There are a thousand and one other ways this could have happened – but some people immediately jump to the worst possible one.


  25. random me
    January 28, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    i’m with ivan and thomas. all of the anti-rep and rep-bashing stuff gets old. there are several posts i give up on because the comments get so ridiculous. there’s one now on fmh, i believe, that got derogatory enough.

    that said, i used to somewhat work within politics. i did loads of local republican elections and worked at the san diego bush-cheney headquarters in 2000. i’ve never voted dem and have received the same sorts of “dem voter” mail mentioned here. my boss at the time was enraged because he was convinced that, despite his loaded contributions to the dem candidates, someone had given his name to the reps… maybe even me! he chilled out once i showed him my letters.

  26. The Last Man
    January 28, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    It’s not at all uncommon to give a name and other information to various campaign organizations and other special interest groups as a way to inflame, annoy, and antagonize friends and associates, knowing full well that they have quite the opposite feelings and political goals as these organizations. Sometimes it’s in good fun, sometimes it’s not. I’ve never done it, but I’ve seen it done with amusing results.

    I imagine that those of you that are quite vocal about your politics would be sitting ducks for this kind of chicanery, all the more so as a leftist/liberal/Democrat Mormon who participates in the bloggernacle. I’m sure your friends, ward members, and ideological opponents/Mitt Romney supporters know who you are.

    Enjoy this campaign cycle!

  27. January 28, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    I think it’s possible it could be some inappropriate use on a small scale, but if it is, it’s almost certainly a “rogue” person acting unofficially. For instance, in 2004, me and a whole group of my friends who attended BYU with me received unsolicited email pleas to our BYU email addresses to help the Republican get-out-the-vote effort. The BYU administration eventually traced it back to someone using the BYU Washington Seminar’s collection of emails in an inappropriate way. Similarly, it’s very possible that someone might be inapproriately using their ward list, etc. It’s tough to tell though. Stapley and Matt Evans have hit the nail on the head with direct mailing techniques.

  28. Kristine Haglund Harris
    January 28, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    I’m sure that some names and addresses come from ward lists, and about equally sure that it’s not Romney’s (or Reid’s) fault when it happens. People get overzealous, and think that the prohibition on using ward lists for political or commercial purposes doesn’t apply because their pet candidate or product is so self-evidently good and righteous that OF COURSE all good Mormons would want to be informed about this miraculous, divinely inspired candidate/snazzleberry juice.

    That said, I do remember when Mitt was running for Senate here in MA, and a particularly zealous supporter thought it would be a good idea for the Belmont Ward Young Men’s activity one week to be holding Romney signs at the polling places…

  29. Nathan Mark Smith
    January 28, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I got on an abortion rights fundraising list after I subscribed to a black Christian community activist Magazine in Chicago. Wrong address for that fundraising, but the letters were genuinely interesting. (My favorite was the one that singled out a Bush-Admin. proposal for federally subsidized pre-natal care as a nefarious plot that demanded my dollars in response.)

    It didn’t occur to me to gripe about the chain of disclosures by which my name might have made its way to them. I can see how people making those decisions could have mistaken me for a Democrat and hence a reasonable target for such mail, and I am much more patient with political direct mailings than I am with commercial junk mail.

  30. abe
    January 29, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I should certainly hope Romney is hitting up members of his religion for donations!!! You can be sure that everyone else in this business (Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, etc.) is doing it. How do you think Bush got all his campaign money?

    But by the same token, I should also hope he is smart enough to do so in a way that doesn’t _look_ too bad (i.e., he has not acquired a database of all Mormons from an unethical contact in SLC — rather, as people suggest here, he is keeping his own hands clean while encouraging active campaigners to pass on names of “like-minded friends” or “members of like-minded organizations” — and some of them just happen to use their stake or ward lists to “refresh their memories” of who these people are…)

  31. BigD.
    January 29, 2007 at 1:50 am

    I’ve done a lot of political campaigns (OK, I’ll vet myself, they were Dem) and it doesn’t surprize me at all that folks are getting letters from the Romney camp with no apparent reason why. Those things happen. As for the theories that ward lists are being turned in–I highly doubt it. Notice that these complaints are coming from liberals…such theories seem to always pop up in the minds of those who aren’t inclined toward the candidate involved. I’ve seen both sides get paranoid and think that Church facilities/lists were being wrongfully used…and usually its just that (paranoia).

    The last thing Romney wants to do is is start mailing directly to names on ward lists. Thats not to say that he won’t target Mormons at some point, but if you look at everything he’s doing, it points in the other direction. Example: Hiring mostly (great majority) non-LDS and even the biggest name on his finance committee (Jon Huntsman Sr.) has said he won’t raise funds from Mormons..
    …in short, its O.K. to be annoyed…but you folks are probably not O.K. to jump to conclusions…

  32. Jeremiah J.
    January 29, 2007 at 2:20 am

    Ivan Wolfe: “especially when many of you (if you really admitted it) would give Harry Reid a pass on the same sort of thing.”

    Well, I’m a Democrat who happens to find it hard to hate or even dislike Romney. I hardly look for reasons to bash him. And I can’t imagine what evidence you have that the liberal Mormons on the internet secretly hold Mormon politicians to a double standard. Somehow you’ve got the key to unlocking the inner depravity of bloggers who are annoyed at the Romney campaign. You could name names and provide some evidence, or perhaps simply provide one of the above-listed reasonable explanations for the Romney letters and stop jumping to such poor conclusions about your fellow saints. There’s a good deal more ignorance than malice in the world–it’s a good idea to assume the former when you don’t really know which is to blame.

    “How do you think Bush got all his campaign money?”
    If you’re talking about Bush’s denomination, then no, the United Methodists are not big Bush supporters.

  33. Kaimi Wenger
    January 29, 2007 at 2:45 am

    While we can’t know the specifics of any particular mailing, I’m with the many who have suggested that it’s likely just a targeted letter to some demographic group.

    I subscribe to (among other things) the Weekly Standard, the New Republic, and The Nation. Plus, I donated to McCain back in 2000. This mix means that I get fundraising letters addressed to “Dear Democrat,” “Dear Republican,” and pretty much everything in between. (On one particularly funny day, I got letters from both Boxer and Santorum, both asking for money.)

    I think I’m still registered as an independent, though, which means that they’re all wrong in their descriptions . . .

  34. January 29, 2007 at 4:18 am

    For anyone who’s registered as an independent, or no-affiliation: every campaign I’ve worked for (three parties, four states, starting in 1996 and going through 2004, for various national, state, and local races) has purchased lists of every registered “our party and not the Big Bad Other Party” voter — and at least one time, a list of all the Big Bad Other Party voters who’d tripped a “they might have voted for Our Party before” alert of some sort. I know at least one of those lists was “refined” by ZIP+4 to try and get people who were more likely to “lean” a certain way (Big Bad Other Party members who were likely to vote for Our Party because they earn $X per year or have minor children living at home or own a home or rent a home or whatever.)

    They do it for phone calls and door-to-door projects, I can’t imagine they’re not doing it for mailings. And the system is rather finely tuned: I doubt they expend a whole lot of energy on trying to mine data from other sources, though they may like referrals when asking for money (none of the active campaign work I’ve ever done has been off of anything other than a modified registration list — usually it’s the original printout from the Board of Elections.) And registering for a weird party doesn’t seem to help — the Democrats bought all the independents and third parties, and so did the Republicans. I thought the Democrats might exclude the Constitution Party, but nope. Even when I was a Libertarian (registered, I mean), I got Democratic and Republican phone calls.

    Meanwhile, I’ve tried everything under the sun to get on the Romney mailing list, to no avail (so far). McCain likes me, Howard Dean likes me, John Kerry and Al Gore once liked me (I even got Edwards stuff during the Democratic primaries last time around,) Arnold likes me, President Bush really really likes me, but I can’t get Romney to send me junk mail even when I sign up for his mailing list personally. It’s enough to make a conservative Mormon girl feel decidedly unloved. I wish someone in the ward would pass on my name; maybe that would work better.

  35. Lamonte
    January 29, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Ivan Wolfe wrote, “methinks people are looking for reasons to be offended by Romney.” One doesn’t need to look that far. My mother, a Mormon and life-long Democrat, recieved a phone call on election night at her home in a small town in Idaho. It was a recorded message from Mitt Romney urging her to vote for the Republican candidate, and eventual winner, Butch Otter because “he shares the same family values that we do.”

    So I asked, and my mother asked, what was Mitt Romney, the Mormon governor of Massachusetts, trying to accomplish by calling an elderly woman in a predominantly Mormon town 2500 miles away? I guess he was playing the law of averages but he lost that one. And his line about family values falls a little short because my mother, as a life long Idaho resident, knows that Butch Otter was arrested for drunk driving with a female passenger 20 years younger than him and not his wife. His wife, by the way, divorced him shortly after that. So we were wondering what family values Mitt was talking about. And yes we were offended.

  36. Ryan Bell
    January 29, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Lamonte, one explanation for that call is that Mitt was the President of the Rebublican Governors’ Association. It was his job to campaign for other Republican Gubernatorial candidates.

  37. January 29, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    One time I got a call from Orrin Hatch’s campaign. I demanded to know how they got my number, (not a BYU alumn, and I was not even registered to vote yet in Virginia) and I was told it came from a commercial list that they bought. My best guess was Deseret Book.

  38. Ivan Wolfe
    January 29, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    And I can’t imagine what evidence you have that the liberal Mormons on the internet secretly hold Mormon politicians to a double standard

    Let’s see: When Reid changes his mind, it’s reasonable and well-thought out. When Romney changes his mind, he’s pandering to the conservative base. When Romney has some apparently cozy deal with a constituent, there’s an ethical problem, but when Reid seems to be turning into a land baron, well – it’s all legal, so what’s the big deal? When Romney has discussed his religion, he’s expoliting it, but when Reid does it, it merely shows what a great guy he is. When Reid engages in partisan rhetoric, he’s merely telling it like it is, but when Romney does it, he’s being – well, too partisan.

    Etc. Etc. I could link to specific comments like these all over the ‘Nacle, but I don’t see the point.

    Let’s try a thought experiment: The person (or someone like him, such as many of the commentators here who immediately saw this as evidence of Romney’s perfidy) who e-mailed Julie has a friend who’s a staunch Republican, LDS and lives in a Blue state. She’s never voted Democrat in her life. Now, she gets a mass mailed letter from Harry Reid saying “Dear Democratic voter.” Does he/she immediately think “Reid must be exploiting church roles?” No, they’d likely say something like what many of the more reasonable commentators in this thread have said.

    I have major problems with both Reid and Romney, so I have no dog in this fight. But it’s clear there’s a double standard at work here and elsewhere.

    If you want to know where I stand politically, go to this thread (and read the whole thing):

  39. DavidH
    January 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    “I have major problems with both Reid and Romney, so I have no dog in this fight. But it’s clear there’s a double standard at work here and elsewhere.”


    I know you are a political independent and think the Iraq war was a mistake. Yet the only political posts I read that you have written seem to go after, with a vengence, Iraq war opponents, critics of President Bush and Governor Romney, and democrats. Out of curiosity, could you point me to some posts where you have criticized, say, Iraq war supporters, Bush or Romney supporters, or republicans?

  40. Ivan Wolfe
    January 29, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    DavidH –

    you read very selectively.

    Go read the post I linked to in comment #38 and read the whole thing.

    Part of the problem is that the politically liberal side of mormonism is rather over represented in the ‘Nacle. Perhaps if more people posted vehement posts attacking Reid and declaring their undying support for Bush no matter what, you might see me attacking those kinds more. But as it is, posts like this one seem to be more then a bit more the norm.

    But then, I also really only visit this place, M*, and BCC. Can’t stand the discourse at most of the others (and you notice I basically never comment at BCC), whether they be right or left.

  41. DavidH
    January 29, 2007 at 2:31 pm


    I did read your post on M* (you may recall that I even commented on it). I liked your post there, and largely agree with it. That is why I said that my understanding is that you are politically independent.

    But I did not see any criticism in that post of Bush, Romney, the war in Iraq, or republicans. And I don’t recall seeing such criticisms by you anywhere else. That is why I asked, in effect, if you were an “equal opportunity” critic of both sides.

    I gather from your post here that you view the bloggernacle (even M*) as so skewed to the left that you see your role here as strongly criticizing the critics of Bush and Romney, the opponents of the war, and democrats. And that there is no need for you to offer criticisms of the Iraq war, Bush, Romney or republicans, because that might be a form of “piling on.”

    Have I fairly stated your posting position?

    Many thanks.

  42. Otto
    January 29, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    I posted it earlier in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, but now I’m honestly curious about whether church-affiliated companies like Deseret Book sell their contact lists. Anybody know their policy? How many corporate steps away from the actual Corporation of the President of the Church does one have to get in order to be clear of the laws pertaining to political neutrality? (I tend to buy from the Church Distribution center rather than Deseret Book whenever I can… is this another reason to do so?)

  43. Ivan Wolfe
    January 29, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    DavidH –

    kinda, sorta, somewhat.

    There have been some conservative commentators (one particular one that turned out to be a troll comes to mind) that I’ve taken to task for bad rhetoric and double standards. But my guess is that those who complain about my apparent one-sideness for some reason haven’t been reading those threads. I have had conservative friends ask me why I’m so hard on conservatives and rarely go after liberals. But then, they don’t seem to read the threads where I do that. So part of it is a self-selection bias on the parts of the readers.

    I don’t know if I see the entire ‘Nacle as skewed to the left, so much that it seems when political posts happen, the liberals seem to be the most verbose. Part of it is my own in-group/out-group perception (that none of us can ever really escape) – despite being non-partisan, I see myself as (overall) conservative.

    M* tends to be the most conservative, but it attracts a lot of people who like to come on and post short comments that do little more than repeat the liberal party line. I find T&S overall to be rather fair and even-handed, but then we get posts like this one (or others that amount to little more than jeremiadic diatribes) that attract a lot of “me too! conservatives/Romney/orthodoxy is evil!” comments. I don’t see many similar posts on the right side of the spectrum here at T&S (honestly – has T&S recently posted anything close to a conservative version of this post?)

    I no longer visit Bloggernacle Times as I got tired of the constant “Reid will lead us to the promised land” and “Romney is a racist/elitist/a bad mormon” and “no matter what Bush does, we will find a way to spin it as evil” type posts.

    BCC I find thought provoking, but never really feel like commenting since I usually doubt I have anything to add.

    But this is a huge threadjack, making the thread about me, when really it’s a red herring. Let’s repeat my thought experiment:
    The person (or someone like him, such as many of the commentators here who immediately saw this as evidence of Romney’s perfidy) who e-mailed Julie has a friend who’s a staunch Republican, LDS and lives in a Blue state. She’s never voted Democrat in her life. Now, she gets a mass mailed letter from Harry Reid saying “Dear Democratic voter.” Does he/she immediately think “Reid must be exploiting the church roles?” No, they’d likely say something like what many of the more reasonable commentators in this thread have said.

    That’s the real crux of the matter, not whether I personally go after certain types more than others.

  44. bbell
    January 29, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Here is something to discuss.

    During the Democratic Primary a former SP Jim Gibson in Nevada sent out a mailer to LDS households. Here is a link discussing it from a Reno paper.

    This is the only example I can think of of a LDS politician potentially using ward lists to send out literature. Kind of breaks down some stereotypes eh?

    I was mission comps with Jim Gibsons Nephew in interest of full disclosure.

  45. DavidH
    January 29, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks Ivan.

    Given, that as bbell points out, 80% (or more) of active LDS vote republican, then if any LDS leader or member has, against Church policy, given a membership mailing list to a party or candidate, the odds seem to be 80% that the individual was republican.

    Given, that, I think it is somewhat more natural for people to suspect, when they receive a republican mailing, that someone in the Church gave the party their address than if they receive a democratic mailing.

    Conversely, if I were a professor at Berkeley, and received a democratic mailing, I would be much more suspicious that someone else on the faculty had given the party my address than I would be if I received a republican mailing. Perhaps the same would be true at the University of Texas.

    Thus, I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that there is some sort of double standard here. Please note, though, that I concur with those who believe that in almost all instances, the mailings are not attributable to someone’s giving a church directory to a party or candidate, because I believe that Church members, by and large, adhere to the privacy policy for the directories.

  46. DavidH
    January 29, 2007 at 3:49 pm


    Thanks for the link. The thread to which you link looks remarkably similar to this one, except it was an LDS democratic candidate who some people alleged, and whose campaign denied, that there had been use of church directories.

    There was no more “proof” in that case that the democratic LDS candidate “potentially us[ed] ward lists to send out literature” than that Romney’s campaign used such lists here.

    So I stand corrected. Maybe if lots of Church members in various parts of the country started receiving mailers from Senator Reid, there would be suspicions or allegations of misuse of ward directories.

  47. ducks
    January 29, 2007 at 6:21 pm


    We received the same phone call from Mitt the night before the gubernatorial election in Idaho. Two things came to mind, first, if Mitt and Butch’s family values are similar, Mitt has just lost my vote, and secondly, who is on Mitt’s staff that okayed that message? Surely he could have supported a fellow Repub without aligning himself with Butch’s highly questionable family values.

    You have to wonder how many votes are lost by these direct mail/phone campaigns that end up annoying those who could potentially be supporters.

  48. Geoff B
    January 29, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    In the FWIW category, I am openly and unashamedly a Romney supporter. I have posted on M* showing my support. I have signed up to be a volunteer on Mitt’s web site. I have a Romney sticker on my car and Romney buttons in various places. I’m a registered Republican and have voted consistently in Florida, which is a key state.

    Yet I have yet to receive one Romney solicitation. Not even one.

    What’s up with that?

  49. JohnG
    January 29, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    There’s no telling where they could have gotten that information from, but there are so many mailing lists floating around out there that there is no reason to suspect LDS church records. I have never been registered as a Democrat and have always voted along conservative lines. Despite this fact, a few months ago, I received a solicitation letter via e-mail from asking for monetary contributions. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the letter was addressed to me directly and was sent to a new work e-mail address that I had not distributed to anyone, including church officials. How did they get my contact information? Who knows, but apparently, this type of information is not hard to come by.

  50. Brad Kramer
    January 29, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    My wife’s a registered independent and votes pretty much exclusively democrat. on election day, she received a phone call from a woman in our ward who, after identifying herself by name, informed her that she (the woman) was the local precinct chair for the republican party and was just calling to get out the vote. The only possible place where she could have found our contact info is from the ward list.
    Perhaps a related story: I have an lds friend who lives in Australia. He told me that during the past election cycle, mission presidents there began to strongly encourage american missionaries to fill out absentee election ballots, in spite of the fact that they are forbidden from reading newspapers our consulting internet sources to educate themselves about the candidates.
    Of course, none of this necessarily points to misbehavior on the part of the church in any official capacity. But church members need to be a lot more careful and use their brains when they make assumptions about mormon loyalty to the True and Everlasting (Republican) Party.

  51. January 29, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    The only possible place where she could have found our contact info is from the ward list.

    Why? Are you not listed in the phone book? In no other directories at all? No contact info anywhere online? Never given out your phone number to anyone? Not on any mailing lists anywhere? Never donated to anything other than the church? etc. etc. etc. see previous comments by others above.

    It seems the paranoia level is rather high on the ‘Nacle. And of course, the rule seems to be: always assume the worst about Republicans (which is the double standard here. Not so much about specifically Reid/Romney, but about always assuming the worst possible explanation when Republicans are concerned and always giving Democrats the benefit of the doubt).

    It’s rather funny, and somewhat telling.

  52. Brad Kramer
    January 29, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    We recently moved into student housing and our # is not listed in the phone book. The only people that _ever_ call us at home are people from my department at the university and ward members. We never get solicitations. Our name doesn’t even show up on caller IDs when we call people (it just reads “University of Utah”). We thought we might be jumping to conclusions so we asked other ward members. Everyone we asked (probably 15 people) was called by this woman; our non-Mormon neighbors weren’t. This isn’t paranoia. And I am bothered by the fact that American Mormon missionaries abroad are being encouraged by their ecclesiastical leaders to cast uninformed votes in American elections. I don’t know if it is going on worldwide. I do know that more than one mission president in Australia encouraged his elders to vote and that the idea of voting during my (foreign) mission was never so much as mentioned.

  53. dangermom
    January 29, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    I get Romney appeals–the second arrived today–though I am not registered Repbulican. My husband, who was Republican until a couple of years ago, does not get them.

  54. Starfoxy
    January 29, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Ivan- I don’t think this is quite the double standard you’re making it out to be. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of North American LDS members are Republican. So when member abuses a ward list for political purposes it is most likely to be someone from the GOP doing it- not because the Republicans are evil, but because the Republicans are in the majority. It’s strictly a numbers game.

  55. January 30, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Starfoxy –

    the double standard has to do with not that when political abuses happen with ward lists, they’re more likely to be Republican – that’s a given (as you said, by sheer numbers). The double standard comes from the automatic knee jerk assumption that Republicans must be up to something unethical and nefarious every time something a little odd happens. Many of those turning a few isolated incidents into widespread condemnation of all things Romney and Republican would never do that were the party labels reversed, even in a situation (like a union or a civil rights group) where the numbers would be more likely to tend in a Democratic direction.

    Brad –

    okay, so in this case, the lady likely did go overboard. However, you seem to want to turn it into a condemnation of all things Republican (what with your snarky comments about the only true and everlasting party).

    And heaven forbid people are encouraged to vote! No – only let us informed elite types vote – the uninformed hoi polli should just be shut out of the system (since absentee ballots usually come with voter guides that include basic information and statements from the candidates and their parties, the votes are likely not all that uninformed – at least no more than many people back in the states who vote).

    But I think I’m done with this thread. Have fun y’all.

  56. cBrown
    January 30, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I can not read all the comments, but I hope I might add something. I live in an early primary state, and Romney is coming by our area. My wife received an email encouraging us to attend a meet and greet with the candidate. This was sent by a local member, who emailed all her church member friends (I do not think this is a problem, who else would they email, strangers?).

    What I though was interesting was a statment in the body of the invitation:
    “Since we all have some connection to Brother Romney…”

    Although when I lived in Utah I voted for president Clinton twice (one of the ten or so in the state), I would vote for the pre-2002 Romney. The post-2004 Romney will not get my vote.

  57. Mike Parker
    January 30, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    What? Ward lists being used for non-church purposes? I’m shocked! Shocked!

  58. jjohnsen
    January 30, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    I’d rather have them use then ward list for this than to sell me Nuways or that disgusting fruit drink. In our last ward there were two families that would call four times a year from the ward list to try to sell us crap. They were pretty proud that they were smart enough to use th resource they’d been given.

    Like a few others have said, if the name came from a ward list, it would have to be from some misguided local person. There’s no way Romney, or the church, is dumb enough to use church lists in that way.

  59. January 30, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    What a waste of blog site this article is. Ever stopped to THINK that there may be someone else, in the world, who knows you as a Mormon besides your ward? There is this little thing called networking, knowing someone, that knows someone who \”I think may be a Mormon\”. Now that person would, in a mentally healthy state of mind, want to support for the best candidate this country has seen since Reagan.

  60. tima
    January 31, 2007 at 3:37 am

    By writing this response i’ve been added to the list!!!! hahahha…finally, my dream come true!

  61. Geoff B
    January 31, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Just as an FYI, y’all may want to check out this poll at Meridian Magazine:

    Out of 3200 votes for most of the leading presidential candidates, 85 percent voted for Romney. McCain was second with 3 percent. Seems like most Mormons, at least the ones who read Meridian and the ones I talk to, are not as concerned about this issue as the navel-gazers in the Bloggernacle.

  62. Austin F.
    January 31, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    I’ll just throw my two cents in: it is probably some well-intentioned member of the ward/stake who used a directory to get access to your names.
    During the ’04 Presidential election, I received an email from Bush’s campaign referring to me as a “Bush Supporter.” I replied to the email address ([email protected]), and a man responded saying that he wasn’t sure how he received my email address. As it turns out, I had a class with this man and he used the email list on BYU’s BlackBoard software to email me. Even after I called him on it, he refused to simply confess. I know this happened during Hatch’s presidential run in ’00 as well.

    Unfortunately, all sides tend to break the rules because they are blinded by their zealousness.

  63. Thomas Parkin
    February 1, 2007 at 2:35 am

    Is it possible to erase a post? Who are the powers that be, here?

    I’d like to erase #7 on grounds that I hate the tone – it is very much the old me, who I’ve been on the run from – though still on exhibit on google groups, for all time – and I’d rather not let that habit even start here.

    I understand by long experience the trouble of deleting comments in this kind of group – as it can rob turns of coversation of context, and make people appear incongruous – but as the only responce to my nasty tone was Peter – I’d like to erase it.


  64. Mark Law
    February 14, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    To Whom it May Concern:

    First of all, as a traditional Baptist, I was stunned after viewing a movie called \”States of Grace.\” A friend of mine from Utah sent it to me for Christmas. In spite of everything I have come to learn about Mormonism, here is a movie – a Mormon movie nonetheless – that demonstrates a deep understanding of — and longing for — unconditional grace and forgiveness through a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    In my opinion, it movingly depicts the power of God\’s healing love and redemptive grace that comes after a fall and repentance. It not only shows the heart of Christianity, but it convincingly challenges the stereotypes that many of us traditional Christians have of Mormons and their belief in only conditional grace.

    Second of all, I love my country and the constitution it was founded upon. The only person I believe will stand up for those beliefs is Mitt Romney – a.k.a. The “Mormon Candidate.” I will say that it would have been hard to pull the lever for a Mormon until I had a few questions cleared up for me. I believe this movie can be a landmark film in presenting a view of the Mormon church and Mormon life that has never before made it to the big screen – answering simple questions such as polygamy (by far the funniest scene in the movie), interfaith relationships and Mormon beliefs concerning grace.

    Many, and I do mean many, of the Mormon beliefs and doctrines I disagree with, but I don’t want a country ran by Pres. Clinton II, Obama, McCain or even Giuliani. I believe Gov. Romney is a Christian who shares my most important values. Now more than ever, we Christians need to pull together and I believe States of Grace can be that elusive element that brings us together. The movie is extremely thought-provoking and very educational for many in America who don’t know much beyond popular rumor about the faith of the man who just might be the next president. In short, this little film has the potential to actually shift and mold public opinion in a presidential campaign without being a political hatchet job like Fahrenheit 911. It should be required viewing for the entire Christian community.

    My question is this – With all the stereotypes and misinformation out there about his beliefs, why hasn\’t anyone put this movie out there to help him? I would have to say I have never felt closer to Mormonism, and Christ\’s message of love, redemption, and hope, than after viewing States of Grace. You have a tool to answer the questions that would help me pull the lever for Gov. Romney, and you’re not using it.

    I emailed “Evangelicals for Mitt” and they’ve never heard of the movie. I emailed a website called and they dismissed me. I found more information on this movie at

    I hope you care enough to do something about this – or I’ll find a way to do it myself.

    Your Brother in Christ,

    Mark L.

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