"Vets for Freedom" Offers Frats Cash to Demonstrate for War at VP Debate
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by Sam Stein
stein@... | HuffPost Reporting From DC
Pro-War Group Offering Cash For Frats To Demonstrate At VP Debate
October 1, 2008 11:19 AM
In hopes of organizing a robust demonstration for the vice presidential
debate this Thursday in St. Louis, the pro-Iraq War (and ostensibly
pro-McCain) organization, Vets for Freedom, is resorting to offering
local college fraternities hundreds of dollars if their members come and
In an email obtained by the Huffington Post, Vets for Freedom field
staffer Laura Meyer offered a fraternity at St. Louis University a
"sizable donation" -- plus free lunch -- if it could use their pledges
to demonstrate outside the VP debate.
"I was emailing you today," wrote Meyer, "because I am trying to find
people who would be willing to hold up signs for a few hours in the
afternoon this Thursday outside the VP debate site. It's only for a few
hours and you can gain a lot from it.... first off, lunch for any guys
who agree to volunteer will be on me. Secondly, they will get lots of
media attention! My organization did a similar thing in Mississippi last
week and a ton of them were on TV. Meaning, the guys could wear their
[REDACTED] gear while holding up our signs and get attention for their
frat. Also, they will get to hang out with a bunch of really cool Iraq
and Afghanistan war veterans.
"Lastly, and here's the kicker.... if you guys can get us at least 20
volunteers for those few hours, my organization will make a sizable
donation to your fraternity. If you use pledges you could look at it as
'free money and free publicity'. If this sounds like something you may
be willing to help us out with, please let me know ASAP!"
Reached by phone, Meyer said the total amount of cash the frat could
earn was between $200 and $250 for organizing 20-plus members. She also
noted that the program was a success in generating publicity during last
Friday's presidential debate.
Judy Mayka, a spokesperson for the national chapter, said that the
practice of paying for demonstrators had been going on without their
knowledge and would subsequently end.
"Obviously this was not a direction from national and we have contacted
the Missouri staffers and volunteers and told them it is not appropriate
in our policy," she said. "And those who choose to attend the vice
presidential debate should not be compensated."
As for the payments made for volunteers during the Mississippi
presidential debate, Mayka added: "We will be looking into that."
The practice of paying volunteers is perfectly legal, and having scores
of rowdy pro-war supporters cheering on the backdrop of TV sets can be
an effective way for Vets for Freedom to disseminate its message.
But keep in mind, some of the people demonstrating outside the VP debate
had a choice to make: take the money from Vets for Freedom or subject
themselves to a night of hazing and binge drinking. On Thursday, we will
see how many chose the former.
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