New GOP Tactic: Volunteers Paid With 'Secret Money'

Citizens United ruling enables groups to pay volunteers

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 5, 2012 7:10 PM CST

(Newser) – The vast infusion of money into political nonprofits has fueled a new development in GOP campaigning: groups that pay people to canvass and make phone calls, Politico reports. Such jobs come with hourly pay of up to $15 and perks like drawings to stay in a "posh hotel," win an iPad, or attend a 3 Doors Down concert. Paid volunteering itself is nothing new—party committees on both sides have done it for years—but this gives Republicans a chance to overcome Big Labor's dollars and President Obama's renowned volunteer army.

"The outside groups are filling in the grassroots ground game that in 2004 was the deciding factor in Bush winning," says the head of nonprofit GOP group. They have also paid for improvements, like detailed voter-contact data that canvassers can download while going door-to-door, and a new wave of home-schooled students who bring youthful energy to campaigning. One unexpected downside: It's not as easy to recruit old-fashioned volunteers. "It's harder to make the case that your cause is filled with citizen advocates when it’s actually filled with citizen mercenaries," says a veteran GOP campaigner.

Volunteers get ready for the arrival of Mitt Romney at his campaign headquarters on South Carolina's primary election day in Greenville, SC, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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