Pro-Life Campaign Committee - Caution!

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Rochester Area Right To Life

Pro-Life Families Complain About Group's Telemarketing Calls

Washington, DC -- An organization saying it supports pro-life efforts continues to practice what the Better Business Bureau calls "unscrupulous" business practices.

The old Elect Life

In May 2001, several pro-life organizations, including Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, alerted pro-life advocates about an organization calling itself "Elect Life." A news story in the New York Daily News also exposed the alleged "shady" practices of the organization.

According to MCCL, "Elect Life" raised more than $3,000,000 from unsuspecting pro-life families through telemarketing calls that sometimes were pressuring or offensive.

While "Elect Life" claimed to support pro-life candidates and to be working in Congress on a partial-birth abortion ban, neither was apparently true.

Documents on file with the Federal Election Commission revealed the telemarketing firm, Arizona-based Capital Communications, kept 94% of the money raised and the organization's president paid himself more than $115,000 in salary and fees.

The new Pro-Life Campaign Committee

The organization's president recently passed away and it appears to some pro-life advocates that Capital Communications has continued the same practice of taking money from unsuspecting pro-life families through a newer organization, the "Pro-Life Campaign Committee."

Telemarketing scripts and materials mailed to those making pledges over the phone are nearly identical to scripts and materials used with "Elect Life" and other supposedly "pro-life" groups for which Capital Communications has done telemarketing. In each case, the scripts tell callers the organization is working to elect pro-life candidates and lobby on partial-birth abortion.

As for the "Pro-Life Campaign Committee" lobbying claims, representatives of several major pro-life groups that conduct Washington-based lobbying efforts on behalf of life issues have never seen any representative of the group lobbying on any of a number of pro-life issues -- including partial-birth abortion.

Several pro-life advocates have reported receiving harassing calls including pressure tactics designed to obtain banking or credit card information for an immediate donation over the phone.

Sue Block of Iowa recently received a "questionable" call from the organization.

"I didn't quite trust them and when I was not willing to give my a donation right then using my VISA card they seemed annoyed," Block explained.

Mitzi James also received a telemarketing solicitation.

According to James, the caller explained the Pro-Life Campaign Committee was working to pass "Bill 521" -- legislation to ban partial-birth abortion. No such bill exists.

During the recent Congressional session, a bill numbered H.R. 521 was introduced by the delegate from Guam to reform the Pacific island's judicial system. No Senate legislation with the 521 was introduced in the last session. Pro-life Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced H.R. 4965, the ban on partial-birth abortion, which passed the House and was not considered in the Senate.

After James agreed to give the organization a $35 donation -- down from the $75 the group requested -- she was transferred to another telemarketing employee who requested payment via credit card or check by phone.

"Because of their need to have their money right now, [the caller] tried to assure me that when I received my bank statement or credit card statement, it would serve as my proof of my contribution."

James informed the caller that she wished to be cautious about her charitable giving. "I suggested she let me check them out and could they call me back this afternoon," said James. The PLCC representative refused.

Although the call made James suspect, she provided her credit card information anyway.

"I made a terrible mistake and gave them one of my credit cards agreeing to $35.00. I could have kicked myself afterwards as this is something I have never done before," she said.

After making the donation, James searched online for information about the organization. She found no web site for the Pro-Life Campaign Committee but did find alerts from pro-life groups about their activities and a statement from the Better Business Bureau in Spokane, Washington alerting consumers to shady telemarketing practices by the organization.

A statement from the business watchdog group said "unscrupulous organizations such as this divert funds from legitimate organizations attempting to remain active and efficient to their causes."

David Senn says he also received a call from the organization claiming he was a previous donor.

"I have no recollection of these people and rarely do checks by phone -- never to a telemarketing organization."

The PLCC group called Kathryn Naylor too.

"I pledged $20 and when it came time to end the phone call they wanted the money right then. I told them I would send a check by mail but they kept pushing that I use a credit card, debit card or check by phone. I told them that I did not feel comfortable with that and I would send them a check as soon as I received their information. They pushed and pushed that there was a deadline that I needed to pay now and finally agreed to send me the bill."

Pro-life advocates receiving such telemarketing calls can contact the Business Division of their state Attorney General's office to report any problems or complains from telemarketers.

Source: Pro-Life Infonet; November 19, 2002 (Pro-Life Infonet 11/20/02 #2843)

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