Four times a year, when campaigns reach their quarterly fundraising reporting deadlines, email inboxes across the country start to flood with pitches that seemingly become more shameless each time.
This quarter — as gubernatorial campaigns near their end in Kentucky and Louisiana; presidential campaigns post their last quarterly figures before crunch time begins ahead of the early contests; and House and Senate campaigns try to prove their competency to donors and analysts — that shamelessness was alive and well. Guilting: Some candidates take the route of trying to shame their supporters into contributing.
Kentucky gubernational candidate Matt Bevin’s campaign, just a day after the Republican Governor’s Association pulled down its television ads supporting him, created an elaborate, fictional chain of “emails” to shame a voter into contributing to his campaign ahead of Wednesday night's deadline.
In the pitch, Bevin “emails” his finance director about how to get a new commercial on the air and suggests the email recipient’s name. “If you’d like, I can give them a call, but hearing straight from you might be better,” his finance director, Lauren Casper, “emails” him back.
Bevin, "himself," then the recipient: “I emailed our finance director, Lauren, to check our online donor list, and we were disappointed to see that your name wasn't on there," adding his pitch to chip in to get him back on the air a month from Election Day.
Exclusivity: Other campaigns want the thousands of people who find themselves on their email lists to feel special.
In an email sent to his national listserve, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee “wrote" a note to “** top supporters only **,” as it said in the subject line.
“I’ve sent this email to my top supporters only,” the campaign wrote, “and if everyone contributes $50 we will raise the money we need to reach our online goal before our September 30 deadline.”
The exclusivity theme was also picked-up by Minnesota congressional candidate Mary Lawrence, whose campaign manager sent her supporters an “exclusive update” containing the fundraising pitch.
Oddly personal: At least one campaign wants you to think they're special.
P.G. Sittenfeld, a Democrat running for Senate in Ohio, attempted to lure in a contribution on the eve of his birthday with a picture of him at age three blowing out candles (there were four candles), accompanied by a quick note from his campaign manager, Walker Schiff.
“I know that there is nothing PG wants more for his birthday than the chance to represent you and his beloved Ohio in the Senate,” Schiff writes. “Start PG’s birthday off right: contribute now!”
Big names: The big gun names like to show their even bigger gun supporters.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton deployed her not-so-secret weapon — former President Bill Clinton — in an email to supporters Wednesday afternoon. President Clinton, who has taken a backseat since his wife entered the race, wrote to supporters: “I haven't written to you yet during this election, but today's too important to stay on the sidelines.”
Not to be outdone, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used one of the former presidents in his own family on Wednesday to try to raise some last-minute cash.
“The country needs a problem-solver who has a proven conservative record, an optimistic vision for our future, and is ready to lead on day one. That's Jeb,” says an email bearing George W. Bush's signature. “The truth is, he can't do it without you and your financial support of $100, $50, $25 or even $5.”
Bigger names: There's no bigger name than Pope Francis.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., sought to capitalize on the negative attention his decision to skip the pope's historic address at the Capitol got him with Democrats and left-leaning blogs.
“I believe when a Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one," he wrote in a Wednesday fundraising pitch.
Hyperbole: Other campaigns like to carry on a dialogue in all caps to stress a pretty bold claim.
“THIS IS DOWNRIGHT SCARY,” declares an email from the Senate Majority PAC. In the same font, but this time in blue, the group adds, “HERE’s WHAT WE NEED (RIGHT NOW),” before a pitch to give $5 at this “critical time” to “deliver a MASSIVE BLOW to anti-women GOP extremists.”
Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has repeatedly emailed supporters over the past week with the subject line, “dropping out,” something very unlikely for one of the higher polling candidates to do. In one email last week, Cruz said he was “more than $400,000 short of our End of Quarter Goal.”
“Since TWO of my fellow conservative candidates have been forced to drop out due to lack of funds, it is more urgent now than ever that I have your support before the hard cutoff of my fundraising deadline on Sept. 30th,” the email with Cruz’s signature says.
Shutdown: As Congress toyed with the notion of a government shutdown over defuding Planned Parenthood, Jason Kander — the Democrat challenging Republican Sen. Roy Blunt for re-election in Missouri — asked supporters to contribute to his “STOP THE SHUT DOWN FUND” on Tuesday.
“With just one day before our critical FEC deadline, make Senator Blunt pay for his shutdown games,” Kander’s campaign wrote in the email, under the subject line “Make him pay.”
Similar groups – including EMILY's List, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee – used the mere possibility of a shutdown to raise cash.
Correction 2:06 p.m. An earlier version of this story misidentified the name of Minnesota congressional candidate Mary Lawrence.