RNC Fires Phone Solicitors

A rather bizarre story has captured the attention of the blogosphere.

The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors’ rebellion over President Bush’s immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times.

Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee’s chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times.

The national committee yesterday confirmed the firings that took place more than a week ago, but denied that the move was motivated by declining donor response to phone solicitations. “The phone-bank employees were terminated,” RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt wrote by e-mail in response to questions sent by The Times. “This was not an easy decision. The first and primary motivating factor was the state of the phone bank technology, which was outdated and difficult to maintain. The RNC was advised that we would soon need an entire new system to remain viable.”

The lefty blogs are seeing this as further proof that the GOP is imploding and the righty blogs are seeing this as an Aha! moment proving they were right on the immigration issue. It strikes me as quite plausible, though, that Schmitt’s explanation is the right one.

I’d have to see the numbers but both parties’ fundraising continues to set record highs. The 2008 presidential campaign has started roughly a year before any other in history and already record amounts are being raised. Furthermore, the GOP candidates who are the toughest immigration hawks, Tom Tancredo and Sam Brownback, are statistically tied with my dog in the polls. It’s therefore highly unlikely that the Republican party has suddenly found fundraising to have dried up and that immigration policy is the cause.

Beyond that, firing low level phone bank employees would seem an odd response to those events were they actually transpiring. Why not just fire the managers? Or, backpedal on the policy?

My guess is that the RNC has contracted out their phone bank services and are simply terminating the contract. Perhaps direct mail and Internet solicitations have simply obviated phone solicitations?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    There is also the factor of the transient nature of phone bank operators. such services are usually short term. If the contractor, for whatever reason, was going to be replaced, now would be the time to do that; before the next election starts in earnest. As you suggest they may have simply terminated the contract.

    I suspect, that in the end, much more is being made of this story than is really there. In any event, claiming any kind of victory because of a move like this, a move which would be handled in any other election year without so much as a peep from the press, seems more than a little bit opportunistic.

  2. Andy says:

    Perhaps direct mail and Internet solicitations have simply obviated phone solicitations?

    All evidence that I have seen shows that the Republicans are horrible at raising money online.

  3. Anderson says:

    Perhaps they’re outsourcing the jobs to Bangladesh.