whale of a fail

HRC Blasts Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson For Voting Against DADT Repeal. Except, Uh, She Didn’t

Will any heads roll at the Human Rights Campaign for an email blast — to their 750,000 “members”? — claiming Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the Texas Democrat, voted against repealing DADT, when in fact she voted for it?

Yesterday in one of HRC’s form emails, signed by President Joe Solmonese, members are asked to “send a quick note to express your disappointment in Rep. Johnson for voting AGAINST repealing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’” Except she voted FOR it. Not only that, HRC has rated her 100 percent on its little scorecard thingy.

HRC spokesman Fred Sainz says a “technological glitch” is to blame for the mix up, and says Solmonese has tried calling Johnson to apologize. An correction email went out afterward, saying:

Due to an error in our email system, the message we sent you this morning incorrectly stated that Rep. Eddie Johnson voted not to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In fact, Rep. Johnson voted FOR equality by supporting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

We apologize deeply for this inexcusable error. Rep. Johnson has been a staunch and courageous ally in support of LGBT equality and should be commended for voting to allow lesbian and gay service members to serve their country openly.

The message you SHOULD have received is below. I hope you’ll read it and thank Rep. Johnson for standing up for equality. Once again, our sincere apologies for this mixup.

But that’s not good enough for a one James Nowlin, who is on Johnson’s re-election steering committee. HRC’s original email “kicked a true ally,” he says, adding, “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has been a consistent voice for human rights. She has asked for nothing in return for her leadership in human rights. Simply stated, she works for human rights because she believes in equality for all. Unfortunately, HRC’s email erroneously accusing her of voting against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell kicked a true ally. She has been on the right side of equality issues throughout her career. She understands the importance of a united, diverse America and that rights should not just be provided for the privileged few. … HRC’s goal should be to win and keep allies, not to mistakenly sully their reputations.”

Was it an innocent mistake? Without a doubt. It’s been suggested the Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s name was included where Illinois’ Rep. Tim Johnson should’ve been; he did vote against repealing DADT. But whoever is crafting HRC’s emails has plenty of apologetic tidings to deliver.

And I can only imagine Brad Luna and Trevor Thomas, who both fled HRC’s communications department, are enjoying a silent giggle.

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  • chris

    BIG DEAL. Tell the Congresswoman and her supporters to stop whining and elect a few more Democrats in Texas for real change.

    Im not HRC fan but this is ridiculous.

  • reason

    Nothing to see here, some in this community kick allies on a daily basis. Get Equal should be rejoicing, after all this card was stolen from the top of their deck.

  • trickstertara

    It *is* worth noting because what brain dead wage slaves are HRC having send out their e-mails? Are they the same slaves they outsource through the Public Interest Research Group (i.e. the kids with the folders on street corners panicking because they’re afraid of being fired at the end of the day)? If they, I don’t know, cultivated an actual regular staff of people to do these things, maybe more would be accomplished.

  • whatever

    The Congressional Black Caucus members are the some of the consistently pro-gay members of congress. How’s that for black homophobia?

  • reason

    @Trickstertara Some of the work the Pirg’s do is good, and their model has some usefulness. The people that are good at the job stay on it, the ones that aren’t get let go. The good people are the ones that go on for more extensive training, and end up moving up through the organization. Community organizing is not for every one, can be a tough job, so getting the people that are not good at it out early makes senses for the individual and the organization. Unlike the government a lot of activist organizations just don’t have the resources carry people that are not adroitly competent at the task they need to carryout.

    You are correct, although not widely known, the vast majority of the congressional black caucus are staunch alias of GBLT; a lot of the members are actually part of an LGBT Equality Caucus including Barbra Lee, the Chair of the CBO, and ironically Eddie Bernice Johnson the person HRC mistakenly attacked.

  • Baxter

    @reason: Considering that the HRC spends more money hiring PIRG to hire those canvassers than those canvassers raise in donations, it doesn’t actually do a lot of good work.

  • reason

    @Baxter: Your missing out on the fundamental reason for canvasing, which is okay a lot of people don’t know why people canvas. Canvassing is not really about raising money, the Pirg’s raise far more money from large donors and foundations. The reason there is a quotas is for canvassers to defray some of the cost of sending them out. They also identify people that may become large donors to the organization at some point in the future. Both of those are just on the periphery. The main point of canvassing is to get people involved, or at least thinking about an issue that would have never crossed their minds other wise. Lets face it the people that come on these blogs are light years ahead of the general population on what is going on around them and issues that will impact the future of all of us, which is really scary. The thing is, most people have little time to think about things outside of their 9-5, family, bills, favorite t.v. show, and the other things that are taking place inside their sphere. When a good canvasser shows up at the door they are able to break through that bubble and force them to think about a topic that is taking place outside of that tiny sphere. The person is likely to look into the issues, discuss it at the dinner table, mention it to a friend whether they agreed with the canvasser or not. Some people change there minds, some people get involved, give financial support, some organize community meetings with legislators, some write letters to the editor, some go out and knock on doors, and others make it their cause celebre. It’s one thing to show up at someones door and inspire them, it takes much more to actually get them to give money to a stranger that they just meet talking about something that would never have crossed their minds. The canvassers that can get them to give 30 dollars a month or 500 has something special that goes far beyond raising money which is what the organization is looking for. These organizations realize that they can’t bring about change alone, it takes everyone getting involved and fighting to make a difference to bring about change. People easily get confessed into thinking, hey I voted to elect this official so I have done my part, now I can go back to my busy overcomplicated life: politician can do very little, it takes everyday people getting involved to make a true difference. If your voice is not heard and actions are not seen the only people that will be heard are the corporations; trust me they will be out their banging on their legislators door, giving campaign cash, calling on a daily basis, trying to win the hearts and minds of the public because they understand the value and whats at stake. The reason the Republicans were laughing and trying to denigrate the president for his work as a community organizer is because it is corrupt businesses worst fear, they know if the people wake up and get involved their days of being beyond accountability will be over. They like the fact that they are the ones that show up at city counsel meetings and at the state house to get what they want, while the middle class and poor are with out a voice scrambling outside to maintain there mediocre lives. Sorry for the long post, I could go on for hours, but hey it is an important topic.


    I think the Lady doth protest too much. Even I have to admit it was just a mistake.


    Is it just me or was REASON talking about Scientology?

  • Baxter

    @reason: None of which makes up for the fact that the Fund grossly mistreats its workers and violates all kinds of employment laws. It’s a sad thing when progressive activist groups are union-busting and swindling their employees out of pay and benefits.

  • Dallasiste

    Correction to the first sentence of this story: the e-mail went to members living in the Congresswoman’s district not to the entire membership of HRC across the country.

  • reason

    @Baxter: Well I am not going to defend nor am I aware of violation of employment laws. If they exist they need to be corrected. The truth of the matter is if one is going to be an activist they have to be doing it for a different reason because they are not going to be making a lush paycheck. There are executive directors with law degrees making a messily 45K, so if one is looking to make money it is the wrong thing to pursue.

    @Derek Washington: I don’t know the first thing about Scientology beside a bunch of California based celebrities are enamored with it. If it is someway connected to the fundamentals of political activism then so be it, but I am sure political activism and canvasing was around long before that organization.

  • trickstertara

    The cornerstone of any community activity is trust-building. One of the best ways to earn someone’s trust is honesty. NO ONE hired by U.S. PIRG is told in any part of the initial interview process “you raise this amount per week or we’ll shit-can you.”

  • reason

    @trickstertara: It is in the documentation. Fail to raise quota 3 days your gone, fail to raise quota during training your gone. PIRG is a non-profit, they can’t afford to keep people that can’t even remotely pay for themselves. If your manufacturing cars and spending more on workers then you can sell the cars for, you have a problem. Most canvas offices loss money, so they do there best to make the canvassing self sustaining as to not pull out to much money from other activities that should be going to the programs.

  • slobone

    You know — I’d never heard of her till I read this. And now I have. So is HRC’s fuckup a net plus or a net minus for her?

  • AndrewW

    “Due to an error in our email system . . . “

    Huh? It’s just incompetence.

  • trickstertara

    Having non-profit status doesnt preclude any organization from ethical business practice. Everyone I’ve spoken with, some of whom are involved in the ongoing class action lawsuit against the PIRG, said they were not informed of the fundraising limits until AFTER the hiring process, after they turned down other job offers, after they started working and noticed their coworkers disappearing everyday. PIRG managers and field instructors can call themselves community organizers and pat themselves on the back as activists, but that doesn’t make their actions any more ethical.

  • name

    I feel inspired to leave a comment?,

  • Jack

    @trickstertara I canvassed for PIRG this summer, and the quotas are now made explicitly clear to employees. As far as the turnover rate, I would say actually that 90% of people actually quit instead of getting fired. It’s really tough work to get screamed at day after day. The HRC actually raises quite a bit of money outsourcing to PIRG. HRC canvassers raise on average over double PIRG canvassers, which is a shame, because I really wish PIRG knew how completely ineffective the HRC was.

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