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Posted on Jun 5, 2008 in Activism, Beltway Politics, Conservatism, Random

Facebook Drama: American Conservative Union employee makes a very bad move.

Very rarely are there instances where I’ll feel compelled to write about the mistakes being made by conservative organizations. Primarily, I tend to only go after political figureheads when they deviate from the original principles of the Republican Party.

However, today there was an email sent out that absolutely appalled and infuriated me. This time it wasn’t something about a partisan hack, but instead was about an employee of the American Conservative Union, Lisa De Pasquale and her efforts to try and shut down a harmless facebook group, CPAC 2009.

Here is the text of the email:

Hey guys,

You won’t believe this facebook message I got from a “Lisa De Pasquele”! You can read it and my response below.

Thanks for being a part of the group.

-Beau

———–
Hi Beau,

The chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation has decided to pursue legal action with Facebook to get your CPAC 2009 group removed. Just wanted to let you know because I don’t know if they automatically disable groups during when legal complaints are brought.

Lisa
———-

Subj: Threat to sue over our Facebook group name

An Open Letter to “Lisa De Pasquale”

Dear Lisa,

I just received your message on Facebook. Needless to say, I am a tad shocked you or (so you say) the chairman of the ACU, David Keene, are threatening legal action over the fact that I started an unofficial Facebook named, “CPAC 2009.”

The group was created by a dedicated small government conservative (myself) and frequent attendee of past CPACs. My only intention was in providing an unofficial source for information and news for the ’09 gathering.

It is with a genuine sense of concern that I ask whether you threatened the same against unofficial CPAC 2008, 2007, and 2006 groups? Perhaps the reason you are threatening me is because this group has had more members than yours for several months now.

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I find it doubtful that ACU members and donors would be pleased that you and Mr. Keene are so quick to spend their well-meaning contributions on what would be an expensive DC lawyer for such a sue-happy endeavor.

Speaking of frivolity, your demands do illustrate a much larger point.

What are you doing when you are not threatening legal actions against fellow conservatives?

Certainly not spending that time in trying to get a real conservative as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Perhaps if you had done more of that then there would be less of a chance we would be stuck with a nominee who led the Amnesty for Illegal Aliens effort on the floor of the United States Senate.

Lastly, you told me months ago (yes, you didn’t have anything more important to do back then either) that the ACU (American Conservative Union) does not even own the name “CPAC 2009.” Nor had they in previous years. So, I don’t think you are legally entitled to be the only user of the name either.

But alas, I do not have the time to continue to endure the yapping about the name of the group from an incessant whiner such as yourself. So, I will close it down.

You are Welcome,
Beau Correll

CC: 619 members

To sum it up, Lisa De Pasquale, an official representative of the American Conservative Union emailed Beau Correll, informing him that the American Conservative Union Foundation was going to pursue legal action over a Facebook group.

Beau, a Virginia Prosecutor, makes some great points in his response, especially in stating that the ACU should be using their donors money for more important battles.

Of course, the last thing you want to do is rile up dedicated conservatives who know how to use the internet. Very quickly this story made its way around the country and within an hour or two, Lisa De Pasquale had posted the following statement on the ACU’s CPAC 2009 Facebook group:

The complaint to Facebook (not LEGAL ACTION) was to remove the group because of confusion it might cause. As you might not know, CPAC is run by a 501c3 (non-profit) organization. The videos posted are political in nature and would constitute IRS violations of our non-profit status.

It looks like the creator of this group has finally added a disclaimer about the group, which is what we asked for in the first place. We have no problem with CPAC groups. As you can see, there are dozens of different CPAC groups.

Well she’s definitely changed her story. Here is her message to Beau again:

Hi Beau,

The chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation has decided to pursue legal action with Facebook to get your CPAC 2009 group removed. Just wanted to let you know because I don’t know if they automatically disable groups during when legal complaints are brought.

Lisa

However, trying to cover-up a lie that was sent to the masses wasn’t her only mistake.

In her latest statement she mentioned that CPAC is run by the American Conservative Union Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit educational organization, and the fact that Beau’s group had “political” videos on it, could jeopardize their tax status, implying that they can’t be affiliated with any political organizations, pursuant to IRS code.

What’s interesting is that in Beau’s group, he has classified it as “Just for Fun – Fan Clubs,” which is exactly what it is. However, the now “official” CPAC 2009 Facebook group, which is managed by Lisa, an employee of the American Conservative Union Foundation, is classified as “Organizations – Political Organizations,” I think that creates more problems than anything that Beau is doing.

Maybe they too should add a disclaimer to clarify (note: as of 6:30pm on 6/5/08, there is no disclaimer).

The fact of the matter is that Lisa got caught up in a scare tactic that has blown up in her face. Even if there would have been serious legal action brought against Beau’s group, the Facebook terms of service only prohibit such situations when applied to Facebook Pages. From the Terms of Service:

Facebook Pages are special profiles used solely for commercial, political, or charitable purposes. You may not set up a Facebook Page on behalf of another individual or entity unless you are authorized to do so.

Had they created a Facebook page first and then Beau tried to copy that, they might have had a case for it to be shut down. However, Beau wasn’t trying to scam them, his group isn’t spamming people and if anything, he is only helping the conservative movement.

As of 6:45pm on 6/5/2008, there isn’t a Facebook Page for CPAC 2009, or the American Conservative Union.

To many, this might not seem like a big deal. However, if you’re a conservative who believes that we need more like-minded people brought into the online world, or “joining the conversation” as a well known consultant says, you can see how this throws up huge roadblocks.

The American Conservative Union is suppose to serve as the umbrella organization for the conservative movement, not the Gestapo. Furthermore, they’re suppose to be for less government in our lives, not finding frivolous claims to bring it in more. It’s hard enough to convince conservative activists to take action online now, but when you throw in threats of legal action over such minor things, you basically set us back months in terms of catching up with the left.

I truly believe that this series of events isn’t representative of the American Conservative Union, however I think it shows how careful employees need to be when trying to use scare tactics on the internet.

Update: Beau’s group is no more. I guess there is no room for little guys.