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Weird Wally's Worldview: A Buy Partisan (BuyPartisan) App Has Finally Arriv...

Weird Wally's Worldview: A Buy Partisan (BuyPartisan) App Has Finally Arriv...: App's screenshot after scanning the barcode of a product Although Wally is technically smartphone illiterate and manages well enoug...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Romney Campaign's Social Media Director, Bill Murphy, Committed Charitable Fraud


(Cross-posted at The Democratic Daily)

Bill Murphy, Mitt Romney’s Social Media Director, and his colleague Ali Akbar have ripped off a lot of people. They ripped off the Tea Party with the American Liberty Alliance. They ripped off movement Conservatives with the National Bloggers Club. They even ripped off Andrew Breitbart. But their days of making it rain misbegotten right-wing dollars may be numbered.

In 2009 Murphy and Akbar worked together at American Liberty Alliance, an organization which collected “donations” throughout the summer while claiming they were just waiting for their 501(c)3 application to go through. It never did. Then they worked together atNational Bloggers Club, a group which solicited “donations” for the past six months while actually calling itself a non-profit (status pending). But according to the IRS, they never bothered to file the necessary documents.

Which means the National Bloggers Club is NOT a non-profit. Not only that, it was NEVER a non-profit.
Murphy and Akbar started NBC with seed money from Foster Friess, the conservative billionaire who single-handedly kept the Rick Santorum campaign shuffling along far past its expiration date like some rotting, remote-controlled corpse. Currently Akbar functions as President, and prior to joining the Romney campaign, Murphy was NBC’s Director. They filed for incorporation on January 27th – in Texas, for some reason. The company is listed as a non-profit.

NBC held their first event, Blog Bash, on Feb 9 at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The highlight of the night was the presentation of a “Changing the Narrative” award to journalist Andrew Breitbart. Either that or James O’Keefe shouting, “Fuck the press!”

Akbar is listed as a “Host Organizer” on BlogBash.org and Murphy is listed as “Co-ordinator” yet neither of them mention NBC in their profiles, and the site makes no mention of the fact that BlogBash is a project of NBC. Murphy also makes no mention of NBC in his LinkedIn profile. In many of NBC’s announcements and press releases, the contact information is “Bill Murphy at director@blogbash.com” – which is odd because BlogBash’s director is usually identified as Devon Wills.

On March 1st, Breitbart died of a heart attack. Soon after, NBC announced the creation of the Breitbart Scholarship Fund, saying Breitbart was “a friend of ours” who was a supporter “for over 2 years.”
Washington, DC — The National Bloggers Club, a new non-profit providing a loose association for free market bloggers, has officially announced a grant program for young citizen journalists in honor of Andrew Breitbart’s legacy, the Breitbart Scholarship Fund. The fund has been set up in conjunction with a website, RememberBreitbart.com, dedicated to showcasing Andrew’s fans and showcase his work. Visitors of the website will be able to donate to the fund, apply for grants and submit their own videos to a library of fans memorializing Breitbart.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the Breitbart Scholarship Fund can go to www.RememberBreitbart.com. All grants will be reviewed by a board overseen by Andrew’s friends, former colleagues and other bloggers.
RememberBreitbart.com, which features a rather odd picture of Breitbart with his mouth red-taped shut, introduces itself like so:
“The National Bloggers Club will launch a permanent virtual memorial honoring Andrew Breitbart and his work here. You see, he was a friend of ours. Activists, bloggers, and friends will have videos and pictures sharing their fondest memories of the lion of the movement.
In order to ensure his legacy and the style of his work lives on, we’ve created the Breitbart Scholarship and have an independent review board to grant funds to young journalism students and muckrakers alike.”
In a video taken at NBC’s Remember Breitbart event, Akbar goes so far as to say, “We’re going to do what we can to take care of Susie [Breitbart] and the kids.”

Even though that has nothing to do with the stated purpose of the scholarship fund.

Larry Sinclair is a conservative pundit who has supported NBC in the past. In March he blogged about the Breitbart scholarship, praising the “non-profit” NBC and posting their press release in its entirety, even the coda:
National Bloggers Club is a new 501(c)(3) founded by top new media operatives, bloggers and journalists as a loose association of bloggers who are for free enterprise and limited government and to advocate on bloggers behalf.
That was six months ago. Last week, Sinclair changed his tune. He revealed for the first time that after hearing of the scholarship, his media empire (Andrew Sinclair News) reached out to Joel Pollak,  editor-in-chief and in-house counsel for Breitbart.com, to ask if he’d be willing to be interviewed on the scholarship fund. Pollak’s response shocked Sinclair.
“Pollak responded almost immediately by telling us he knew nothing of any such fund; that anyone using Andrew’s name along with any such fund was doing so without authorization and Pollak even went to the point of saying that any such organization was in his opinion a scam.”
Pollak and Breitbart.com have yet to respond to requests for confirmation. Meanwhile, a search for Breitbart Scholarship Fund on Breitbart.com brings up precisely zero results.

For the past few months, NBC President Ali Akbar has been dealing with a series of attacks which began with the revelation of his criminal record, which includes felony credit card fraud. Most of Akbar and Murphy’s ventures have involved soliciting online donations via credit card. This in turn spawned its own controversy, in which certain parties were accused of paying, pressuring or even threatening those who questioned Akbar’s integrity. Focus shifted from Akbar’s felony convictions to NBC’s dubious non-profit status, and finally the speculation has coalesced into a demand for accountability from Akbar, Murphy, and NBC as a whole. 

Bloggers and pundits, mostly from the right, are calling for Akbar to step down and release IRS documentation of NBC’s status. Here are some of conservative bloggers’ most eloquent expressions of frustration with Akbar and NBC:
“Ali Akbar makes me want to go back to my old ways and hit him across the head with a dirty shovel. His smug attitude is despised by most of us.”
Ladd Ehrlinger (Film Ladd):
“As far as I’m concerned, Ali Ackbar is a ruthless and arrogant con man… He should be shunned and exiled by the conservative community, and he should be investigated criminally by the appropriate authorities. Conservatives should never shrug their shoulders and excuse corruption. That’s what liberals to do.”
Paul Lemmen (An Ex-Con’s View):
“As someone with a great deal of personal experience in unethical behaviors, I find the public explanations, hidden criminal activities and apparent lack of honesty from the National Bloggers Club’s President Ali Akbar troubling. It is far less than the level of honesty required by such a position, which demands public trust and fiduciary responsibility.”
Larry Sinclair:
“Bottom line, if Ali Akbar and anyone else associated with National Bloggers Club, Breitbart Scholarship Fund continue their refusal of vaild requests for disclosure, then none can be taken as having any integrity whatsoever.”
Sinclair has even teamed up with progressive blogger Bill Schmalfeldt (The Liberal Grouch) in a bipartisan call for NBC to publish the following:
  • The names of every National Bloggers Club Board member including the date each became associated with the NBC
  • A complete financial report showing the amounts of all monies paid to in contributions; services; or sponsorships made to NBC or BlogBash.
  • A complete financial reporting of all funds paid out by NBC or BlogBash including the names of those receiving said payments and the reasons for each.
  • A complete financial accounting of all funds paid out by NBC/Blogbash including an accounting of what the payments were for and if they were made for the personal benefit of Ali Akbar or any other member of the NBC Board.
  • A complete accounting of all contributions made to the Breitbart Scholarship Fund as well as an accounting of all disbursements of said funds as well as the name of the financial institution(s) where contributions are on deposit.
  • A statement as to Bill Murphy’s past and current connections with NBC and BlogBash; whether Murphy has been involved in any NBC/BlogBash activities and or promotions since becoming the official Social Media Director for the Romney/Ryan campaign.
Yahoo! News has identified NBC as a non-profit. Right-wing bloggers including Sinclair, Robert Stacy McCain, Tech President, Randhi Rhodes, Lonely Conservative, Paul Lemmen, Ladd Ehrlinger, even Michelle Malkin, have called NBC a non-profit. NBC’s facebook pageidentifies it as a non-profit. RememberBreitbart.com describes NBC as a non-profit. In its own press releases, NBC identifies itself as a non-profit. The new Remember Breitbart donation page describes NBC as a non-profit. The old Remember Breitbart donation page, which was taken down and/or scrubbed but can still be found HERE, describes NBC as a non-profit; specifically, “a 501(c)(3) – status pending”.
The National Bloggers Club is NOT a non-profit.

The real irony of this, as many Breitbart devotees have noted, is that Akbar, Murphy and NBC’s lack of accountability is exactly the sort of thing Breitbart fought against. In his appeal against Akbar, Larry Sinclair put it well:
“In the words of the late Andrew Breitbart: Corruption and dishonesty must be exposed no matter which side it is taking place on, whether liberal or conservative, dishonesty is just that, dishonesty!”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Made A Promotional Video!

I'm proud. It needs work. But I'm proud.


Help Us Fund Eye$pend on StartSomeGood

Well, our first crowdfunding campaign was extremely... educational.


We learned quite a bit about how to orchestrate an effective and successful campaign. And we're applying our newly gleaned knowledge to our new, 2nd crowdfunding effort, this time on StartSomeGood instead of PeerBackers.

bit.ly/fundeyespend

In an act of shameless self-promotion I penned a 2nd crowdfunding piece for the HuffPost, who haven't posted it yet, but it's up on Democratic Daily

We went with a Top Ten list format. Hey... don't judge me ;-)

http://thedemocraticdaily.com/2012/07/20/top-ten-tips-tackle-crowdfunding/

I've excerpted the tips here. I hope you find them helpful. Also I hope you visit bit.ly/fundeyespend, share the page using the tools provided, and consider contributing.

Thanks.


Top Ten Key Strategies for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
  • The first rule of crowdfunding is: have a video. Some crowdfunding sites recommend it; some even require it. Videos are crucial for thoroughly explaining your campaign in a way that words and pictures simply can’t. They also let you advertise your campaign’s individual style. Grassroots? Polished? Professional? Light-hearted? People will read their own interpretations, intonations, deeper-hidden-meanings etc in the written word, but just like lectures can be more helpful than textbooks in learning, video significantly augments your efforts. Even if it’s just you speaking into your webcam (luckily I stumbled across an old copy of Adobe Premiere Elements 7 in the archives). Also, videos are nice and share-able. Finally, if nothing else, making a video proves that you’re putting in the elbow-grease necessary to win.
  • The second rule of crowdfunding is: HAVE. A. VIDEO.
  • Be aware of your platform’s strengths and weaknesses. Do users have to register an account with the site in order to contribute? Do they have to enter credit card details? Must they be registered with PayPal? What does it offer in terms of sharing options? Some of the protocols may work better than others, depending on your goals and audience.
  • The site will list your backers – but YOU need to keep careful track of whoever shares, posts, tweets and retweets your material. For one thing, it’s important to express your sincere gratitude. But more importantly, it gives you an idea of who to go to first in any subsequent campaigns and it lets you compare your popularity across various platforms.
  • Blogs. Blogs. Blogs. Set up a Daily Kos account if you need to. Ask any blogger friends to write about you. Seek out related news stories, blogs, and listservs. Respond to relevant stories, comments, posts and the like. Don’t spam -. make sure whatever you post is either directly relevant to that site or at least apropos of the discussion. Oh, and don’t spam.
  • Prepare. Get some kindling for the fire. The internet helps those who help themselves. Don’t just expect everything to start happening. Prime the pump. Strategize. For example, set up some kind of facebook page or event (like this one), and invite every friend you have. You can reach thousands of people in minutes.
  • Organize some people (family, friends) who will be ready to contribute as soon as you go live. If you direct people to a page with 0 backers and 0 dollars, it’s not very encouraging.
  • Ensure ease of access. Help people get there. Generate customized short links – like bit.ly/fundeyespend for example. Link to your page whenever you’re discussing it. When other people are discussing it, make sure there’s a link there.
  • Take your time. Don’t just dive in. Look around to see which site is right for you; for each has its own specific focus. Check out other campaigns on your site of choice. See who’s getting funded and who isn’t, and try to discern why. While you’re at it, check out campaigns on other sites too. Contribute to a campaign so you know what the process is like and can guide contributors through it. Read up on effective techniques and common pitfalls. Simply put, do your homework.
  • Most importantly, you need people to post/share/email/tweet/blog the link to your page, as soon after it goes live as possible. You can’t just get the ball rolling on your own. But at the same time, you have to be the one rolling the ball. Other people don’t create buzz. They hear it. YOU have to generate the buzz.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Money for Nothing, Checks for Free

[cross-posted at Huffington Post, Rapscallionism and Scallywaggery]

Hello, my name is Alex and I deserve to have your money.
That sentiment is at the core of crowdfunding, which is exactly what it sounds like: crowd-sourced funding. Thanks to the interwebs, today's entrepreneurs can easily create and promote Web campaigns to fund their ventures. Anyone can contribute money -- anywhere from one dollar to thousands -- should they feel a particular idea has merit. I happen to be working on a startup myself -- Spend Consciously -- and thus I am painfully aware of how arduous and time-consuming it can be to develop and nurture new potential sources of funding. Crowdfunding provides us access to millions of potential sources -- at essentially no cost.
Crowdfunding campaigns can last as long as 60 days, but if they do not reach their targeted funding goal by the deadline, they get none of the pledged money. If you ask for $100,000 and only manage to raise $99,990 in pledges, you're still out of luck. This is why campaigns offer rewards -- depending on the size of their donation, backers can receive anything from thank-you notes to free apps to the option of naming a character in a video game. Sites such as PeerBackers even allow you keep whatever you raise, provided you can fulfill your reward obligations to your backers. But first you need the backers. For this, crowdfunding relies heavily on promotion through social and professional networks, not to mention a hellish amount of emails, Facebook posts, tweets, blog entries, comments and the like. Might as well call it cloudfunding.


There are a growing number of crowdfunders out there, the most prominent being Kickstarter. Each has its own focus. Kickstarter is geared towards creative projects, emphasis on 'project' -- they fund targeted campaigns designed to achieve specific goals such as publishing a children's book, developing a video game, or producing a film. Other sites cater to business startups, app developers, philanthropic ventures and so on. My venture is a sort of consumer spending aid, an app designed to help people make sure their purchasing decisions are in line with their values. Unfortunately, Kickstarter is allergic to any projects related to e-commerce. They even acknowledge that a startup like Kickstarter wouldn't be eligible for Kickstarter. While we won't actually engage in commerce, we will facilitate it -- which is unacceptable. It just goes to show how targeted some of these sites can be.
So we redirected our efforts. Now we are working with two other crowdfunding sites: PeerBackers and Start Some Good. It's nightmarish to run two campaigns simultaneously - not to mention it burns out your network of contributors, so we're starting with PeerBackers. Our campaign pagewent live last Friday, and I have to say, it's been pretty damn exciting. Innovating against a deadline is invigorating in itself, and each time someone contributes, it's extremely rewarding, and not just financially. Each contribution is a demonstration of support for, and belief in, our company. At the same time... I'll be happier after we've hit our target.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Meghan McCain: Internet Bullying 'Keeps Me Up At Night'


Meghan - are you Ferris Beuller?



...because you're my hero



Clinton/McCain 2016!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost