I got several emails with pdf attachments of a campaign donation solicitation sent via fax from some guy named "Hector" who is running for a state house seat in the lower valley. The emails contained varied editorial commentary ranging from "who the hell is this guy?" to "you want me to support you and you still use fax machines?" The recurring theme, however, was - "where did this guy get my fax number?" That's a good question.
Judging by the professional backgrounds of the people who received a fax asking for a contribution for "Hector," I'd say he got the list from either the El Paso Chamber of Commerce or Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I could be wrong, but those two groups seem to be the most obvious connection between the people who received the fax. There could be other groups I'm missing - the bottom line is that somebody shared their fax list with "Hector." This can be a problem and it's always an annoyance. It's also a really gutless way to ask for money.
The most egregious list hi-jacker in the history of list hi-jackers is Emma Acosta. She used the Executive Forum email list to pimp her candidacy along with the Junior League's list. Many members of those groups were none-to-happy to have their email box spammed by a candidate. Most of the people she reached didn't live in her district, so they couldn't protest her actions by voting against her. She will learn a valuable lesson when it comes time for her to run for mayor. I know that most of the west side women didn't appreciate the emails and God knows nobody holds a grudge like a Junior Leaguer.
The lesson here is that people don't like getting unsolicited email - from anyone. It's not the best way to introduce yourself to strangers. My parents have been grandparents for just over a year and I can tell you that any email that gets in the way of the ones that I send that contain pictures of their granddaughter pisses them off immensely. They are not fond of spam of any kind.
Asking for money as a candidate is the hardest part of the process. Most candidates are asking for something for nothing. You give me money and I will not give you anything back because that would be illegal. It's hard to do. I hated asking people for money and it was made worse when you had to ask someone you just met for the first time. Asking for donations blindly through a fax is a little wimpy in my opinion. It's also not effective. Sitting down in front of people and giving them your time in exchange for their donation is the best way to go about raising money. It's time consuming, but you owe it to them. It proves that you take them seriously and understand the value of a dollar earned.
If these groups are lending their fax or email lists to candidates, they are in effect providing an in-kind donation. Email lists have value - so much so, that people will pay good money for lists of Chamber of Commerce members or for Realtor lists among many others. If you give something of value to a candidate, then you have made a donation and it must be reported. Let's hope all the candidates spamming us know this and do the proper thing. If they're not - let's turn them in and make sure things are made right by the law.