Not long after Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally ended, the American Family Association sent out an email to everyone who had registered to attend the event or watch it on line, urging them to support an effort called “Champion the Vote” which seeks to “mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.”
We didn’t know much about the Champion The Vote effort; only that it was an initiative of United in Purpose, which was the group responsible for the Rediscover God In America conference in Iowa earlier this year.
Today, the LA Times provides a bit more information about the organization and reports that United in Purpose is funded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists and Rick Perry supporters seeking to mobilize Christian voters:
The group operated largely out of public sight until last month, when Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Assn., sent an email promoting Champion the Vote to people who had registered to attend Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent prayer rally.
The Rev. Buddy Smith, American Family Assn.’s executive vice president, said that Wildmon was a friend of [donor Ken] Eldred’s, one of the group’s financiers, but that the association was not providing it with monetary support.
Eldred, who founded companies such as Ariba Technologies and Inmac, has donated $1.1 million to Republican candidates since 2005, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, and is now raising money for Perry’s presidential bid.
But he said in an interview that Champion the Vote did not have a partisan agenda.
“I have the audacity to believe that we can be an influence on both parties,” Eldred said. “I personally believe that someday we’re going to stand before God, and he’s going to pull out a ballot and say, ‘How did you vote in this election?’ And there are going to be people who say, ‘Why do you care about that, God?’ And he’s going to say, ‘Because I created that country and I put you in charge.'”
He declined to say how much money he was putting into the project, except to note: “It’s not cheap, I can tell you that.”
[Bill Dallas, chief executive of United in Purpose,] a former real estate developer who said his Christian beliefs deepened while he was serving time at San Quentin State Prison for embezzlement, declined to identify the other venture capitalists financing the project, but described them as “men of deep faith.” He said the group had an annual budget in the millions of dollars.
Over the next 10 years, United in Purpose aims to mobilize 40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United States to vote. To locate them, the organization has assembled a detailed database that pairs voter registration records with consumer information that identifies, among other things, subscribers to faith-based magazines, members of NASCAR fan clubs and people on antiabortion email lists … The organization has already seen some early success, registering 268,000 new voters in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado in 2010 by working with churches affiliated with the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, that group’s president.
So the AFA paid for Rick Perry’s massive public prayer rally and then used the mailing list generated by the event to generate support for Champion the Vote, which is an effort that is being bankrolled by a donor who is currently fundraising for Rick Perry’s presidential campaign … but the prayer rally was “non-political,” just as this entire enterprise is “nonpartisan”?