RNC fires phone solicitors

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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 The first and primary motivating factor was the state of the phone bank technology, which was outdated and difficult to maintain.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.”

Fired employees acknowledged that the committee’s phone equipment was outdated, but said a sharp drop-off in donations “probably” hastened the end of the RNC’s in-house phone-bank operation.

“Last year, my solicitations totaled $164,000, and this year the way they were running for the first four months, they would total $100,000 by the end of 2007,” said one fired phone bank solicitor who asked not to be identified.

There has been a sharp decline in contributions from RNC phone solicitations, another fired staffer said, reporting that many former donors flatly refuse to give more money to the national party if Mr. Bush and the Senate Republicans insist on supporting what these angry contributors call “amnesty” for illegal aliens.

“Everyone donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue,” said the former employee.

The RNC spokeswoman denied that the committee has seen any drop-off in contributions.

“Any assertion that overall donations have gone down is patently false,” Miss Schmitt said. “We continue to out raise our Democrat counterpart by a substantive amount (nearly double).”

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