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It Takes More Than Naked Fundraising to Get Noticed (But Getting Naked Doesn't Hurt)

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, February 12 2010

Over on their pleasingly rejuvenated in-house blog, ActBlue (or at least, the disembodied blog voice of some ActBlue staffer) is arguing that being transparent about your online fundraising is, to steal a phrase from EMILY'S List, like yeast: it makes the dough rise. The more political reporters can see money piling up through online donation services like, say, ActBlue, the more they'll report on the momentum of the fundraising drive, which only serves to amp up that momentum. That's the key to the baseball bats, thermometers, and other tracking tactics you see in online fundraising drives these days. Florida's Marco Rubio, for example, is reporting to have raised $860,000 in his 10-day "Stimulus Hug" money bomb, but without some sort of tracking mechanism, it's more likely that political reporters will wait until FEC numbers come out to report on how candidates across the country are raising cash.

Or they won't report on it at all.

At least, that's the complaint of Florida Democrat Alan Grayson. Grayson trots out a verse from Simon & Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" to take a jab at the political press for ignoring his fundraising prowess over the course of 2009. Blogging on Firedoglake, Grayson sets up a punch line of "I know who he is. Because he’s me" by describing, in the third person a candidate who raised more than $860,000 in the last quarter but was ignored because his story didn't fit into the prevailing political narrative that the Democratic party is in shambles, scurrying around like scared bunnies, afraid of both populist mobs and Wall Street. That ignore candidate "is not a teabagger," blogs Grayson. "He is not boosted relentlessly by Fox News. He’s not even a Republican. He doesn’t think that the Earth was created 6000 years ago, that President Obama was born in Kenya, or that global warming is a hoax." Making the case that fundraising data is readily available on FEC.gov, Grayson wants some props from having hauled in such cash.

It might not have worked to get Grayson the mainstream recognition he craves, but at least some chunk of Grayson's fundraising did happen out in the open, online, in real time. ActBlue reports that Grayson was its second best fundraiser in the last quarter of 2009, raising more than $390,000 from 11,000 donors, putting him just behind the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a relative new kid on the block that pulled in $407,000 from 15,000 donors.

There's a good chance that Grayson will be an even bigger ActBlue hit in the next few months. The Orlando Democrat just came in second in Firedoglake's "Fire Dogs" contest -- a competition whose prize includes being added to FDL's own ActBlue page -- edging out New Yorker Anthony Weiner but falling behind Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, who campaigned via e-mail for the top slot.