How’s this for a plan:
1. Send people letters and email, pleading for money to fight a terrible (yet non-existent) danger.
2. Use that money to finance another round of dishonest pleas for money.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, month after month, year after year, while taking a “management fee” for my efforts.
Nice, huh? Actually, I didn’t invent it. I’m trying to figure out if that’s what anti-gay activist Eugene Delgaudio is doing.
Delgaudio is kind of a joke, known for extreme, over-the-top, even messianic fundraising appeals. On the other hand, he’s an actual elected official, and pulls in well over a million dollars a year in donations. He’s also in the news right now, because he rented the Weekly Standard‘s email list to send out an anti-gay fundraising request so appalling that the conservative magazine has actually issued a statement of regret.
For some reason, I’m on the mailing list for Delgaudio’s organization (“Public Advocate of the United States”). Last month he asked for money with a novel and ballsy approach. He was about to file his 990 with the IRS (a financial disclosure form) and he was short of his 2011 fundraising goal. This would devastate the nation:
If I fail to raise $46,359.17 by December 31st, I’ll be forced to broadcast our weakness and vulnerability to the Homosexual Lobby…
…if they see Public Advocate’s treasury depleted they will see an opening to ram through the Gay Bill of Special Rights, the Homosexual Classrooms Act and the repeal of DOMA…
No wonder they’ll be pouring over my finance report like demented hyenas cackling as they stalk their prey, ready to rip it to shreds…
Robert, that’s why your emergency gift of $50, $100 or $200 is so important.
Without it, the Homosexual Lobby will be able to show Public Advocate’s 990s to moderate politicians as proof there is no effective opposition to their agenda.
His chutzpah is breathtaking, as he pretends NOM, AFA, TVC, FRC and a host of anti-gay groups don’t exist. But that’s not even the ballsy part: Delgaudio is openly asking for money just for the sake of having money!
He’s not even saying what he plans to do with it. But that’s not important — all that matters is making sure everyone knows Eugene Delgaudio has your money. Literally, that’s his pitch.
Delgaudio’s been sending me junk for months, but it never occurred to me “pour over” his 990s until he brought them up. Then I figured, Why not? What does he do with all this cash? I’m no accountant, but I can read a 990. Let me walk you through what I found. And I’ll try not to cackle like a demented hyena stalking its prey.
In 2009 (the latest year on file), Delgaudo received $1,276,232 in donations (plus another hundred grand in investment income). Here are his expenses.
|Various basic expenses
(Payroll, legal, accounting, etc)
|Grants, travel conferences||
|Computer and list maintenance||
|Creative and Coordinating||
So it costs him almost a quarter of a million a year just to maintain his basic operation. That’s actually not too bad. You might be wondering how much of that sum is Delgaudio’s salary. Well, none. Zip, zilch, nada. The records are clear. He doesn’t draw a salary. What selfless devotion to the cause!
Except for…well, except for the management fee paid to Eugene Delgaudio & Associates, Inc., a management consulting company wholly owned by, of course, Eugene Delgaudio. It’s $163,944, plus another $7662 buried in other expenses, for a grand total of $171,606.
$171,606. That’s what Delgaudio pays himself every year.
Next, we see a tiny bit of money for grants and travel conferences. Sure, why not. Actually, I’m surprised it’s not higher, given his superhuman activist persona. In fact, there’s a deeper mystery: his listed lobbying expenses are zero. Again, I have to ask — what is he doing with his donations?
The next three items (postage, printing, and computer and list maintenance) add up to $849,691. And you know what I call those expenses? Fundraising.
Delgaudio would disagree. He’d say he’s sending letters and emails asking for money so he can fight the homosexual agenda by…sending out letters and emails asking for money.
I guess I don’t know what he’d say. The letters, though are a hoot. Not just because they’re full of lies (e.g., if anti-discrimination law passes, “Churches would be forced to hire homosexual youth pastors” and there will be “pro-homosexual hiring quotas in workplaces” — both demonstrably false). No, the letters are hilarious because, well, read for yourself:
One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I’d heard something was up and wanted to see for myself. As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses. Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined. Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling. My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press. Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, “Delgaudio what are you doing here?” Dozens of men began moving toward me. I’d been recognized. As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, “This time Delgaudio we can’t lose.” Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the Radical Homosexuals could win.
I love this trembling, bulging, homoerotic vision of a shady warehouse filled with gay men on forklifts, loading boxes of petitions onto tractor-trailers. Of course, you have to believe some unbelievable things. First, that gay men have never heard of Kinko’s. And second – long hair? Dude, it’s not 1977. Update your stereotypes.
I’ve screen-capped a recent email from Delgaudio. You can view it here. Typically, it starts with a grandiose description of his personal martyrdom, breathlessly describes “a new threat,” and pleads for your money. He also asks you to
update your contact info for future fundraising sign an online petition.
What are we left with now? A little over two hundred grand for “Creative and coordinating” and “Other.” That’s mysterious. In this frustrating effort to find out what he actually does, I checked his website and found a list:
public demonstrations, news conferences, media campaigns, petition drives and face-to-face confrontations with leading liberal politicians
That’s his claim. I found scant evidence of it though. He’s got:
- An online petition to members of Congress, which hasn’t been updated since the 2008 elections.
- “Press releases,” which are like tiny blog entries linking to work done by people who are not Eugene Delgaudio.
- Some youtube videos cribbed from other sources (newscasts, etc.).
- A few original youtube videos. Stuff like Delgaudio wandering around other people’s events with a camera. Or running down an empty sidewalk waving a flag, and then shouting at the White House. (Seriously, check it out. I’ve cued it up to the funniest bit.) These have petered off lately: just one video in 2010, and two in 2011.
- Also, in a sudden fit of actually doing something, he printed out what he claims are “over a million petitions” against special rights for gays in 2010 (not 2009, the year detailed above), and delivered them to the Senate, whatever that means — apparently dropping them off at the back of a building after a cop tells you to move your boxes. The video of that is pretty funny, too.
Crap, I do more than that for free. But it’s what you get for your $1,276,232. What Eugene Delgaudio gets, of course, is $171,606.
Delgaudio has the public’s eye right now, and he’s working it. This might be a good time for him to step back from his cries of persecution and tell his donors exactly what it is he does with their money — besides using it to ask them for more money.