The Navy Times is a very powerful newspaper. Some people have pointed to an editorial in the esteemed military paper titled "Time for Rumsfeld to Go," on November 6, 2006 as being the straw the broke the camel's back... less than 48 hours after that column ran, the former Secretary of Defense was pushed out of his job.
So, it was a very big deal yesterday when the Navy Times joined other media outlets in raising ethical concerns over Tommy Franks acceptance of $100,000 to appear in a fundraising letter for a veterans charity that is alleged to have spent only 25% of donations on program expenses.
Unfortunately, the Navy Times failed to mention the name of Richard A. Viguerie - and therefore, may be overlooking the most interesting aspect of this scandal.
The Congressional investigation into the "veterans charities" in question revealed that Viguerie was paid millions of dollars in fundraising-consulting contracts and even received a $1 million loan for a start-up initiative from the charity.
Richard Viguerie has been dubbed the "funding father" of modern conservative strategy, having pioneered important tactics in computerized direct mail strategy in the 1970s and 1980s. He is considered the direct mail titan of the right.
I found this 1982 article titled "Direct Mail: The Underground" which describes Viguerie like this:
Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail impresario of the New Right, is credited with first using letters as a medium rather than merely as a fund-raising trigger. For eighteen years, Viguerie has used the mail as an explicit alternative to what he sees as a liberal monopoly in the media mainstream . "It's not that the media presents [sic] the news in a partisan way, it's that they present the positive side of liberal causes, liberal issues, liberal personalities and, for the most part, ignore conservative causes, conservative issues, and conservative personalities, or present them in an unfavorable manner," Viguerie wrote in 1980 in The New Right: We're Ready to Lead. "However, there is one method of mass commercial communication that the liberals do not control - direct mail . . . . You can think of direct mail as our TV, radio, daily newspaper and weekly news magazine."
During the last few years Viguerie has earned a pretty penny as a fundraising consultant for right wing causes... which makes it all the more interesting that he is caught up in this most recent controversy of fundraising costs at a charity that is supposed to help injured Vets.