Revolution Messaging Raises Concerns of Accessibility, Affordability and Transparency to FEC About New Mobile Giving Programs

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Filed comments to assure ruling provides fair pricing and equal treatment of all campaigns

Revolution Messaging, the progressive leaders in cutting-edge mobile strategies, took a stand on behalf of campaigns and organizations seeking to raise money via text message by calling for fairness and equality.

Revolution Messaging commented on CTIA's request for a Federal Election Commission (FEC) Advisory Opinion to approve mobile donations that was discussed in an open hearing yesterday. This was in addition to Revolution Messaging filing their own request for an Advisory Opinion stating the current opinion as written does not make mobile giving as accessible, affordable or transparent as it should be.

While some of Revolution Messaging's comments were addressed in yesterday's FEC hearing, the wireless industry continued to push exclusionary practices that would allow them to approve text message fundraising for one campaign over another.

"The carrier industry clearly stated they want to avoid any controversial issues even though they gladly make money off horoscopes, obnoxious ringtones and pornography,” stated Scott Goodstein, founder of Revolution Messaging. “The irony reaches the extreme as carriers are willing to act as a payment gateway for pornographers, but not politicians. While this ruling was expedited because a congressional race wants to be able to use mobile giving, the comments we heard yesterday made it clear the carriers would not permit the same campaign to use the SMS payment gateway."

CTIA (the wireless industry) even argues they are just like a media company and can turn down campaigns that they feel are just not appropriate.

"Let’s be honest, the carriers are simply a gateway that operate on federally funded spectrum,” Goodstein stated. “They are not limited by program time like TV or have the same concerns that people are being forced to watch a commercial they don't like. People sign up for text messages and should be able to have payments processed for candidates or committees that they support without the fear that a carrier will impose their own political agenda on the payment gateway."

Revolution Messaging also strongly urges the FEC to allow for a discounted political rate to be available to campaigns that would not cause an illegal in-kind contribution to be made. Currently, carriers can charge a service fee of up to 40%, which is higher than the normal rate for non-profit organizations. Since carriers already set the contribution rate for non-profits at 0%, they can easily make a political rate card that is profitable for the industry, affordable to political committees and a low enough percentage to make the service competitive with credit card processing.

"While we are excited the FEC is going to rule on allowing mobile payments, we urge them to make sure the ruling is issued in a way that does not allow a carrier to favor one political action committee over another by allowing one to use this payment system and not allowing another,” Goodstein said. “We recognize and are empathetic to the carriers’ concerns regarding liability, but we need to achieve a balance of protecting the carriers while also fairly opening the system to the campaigns who want to utilize it.”

Listen to the FEC hearing on text message donations at http://www.fec.gov/audio/2012/2012080205_6.mp3

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Debra Reed

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