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Deathbed Dollars

by Bill Berkowitz

Life, Death And Cynical Grandstanding

During the weeks preceding Terri Schiavo's death, a number of radical right wing Christian fundamentalist groups stepped up to take full advantage of what the Traditional Values Coalition's (TVC) Rev. Lou Sheldon characterized as a " the conservative Christian movement in America." Established organizations like the TVC, relative newcomers like, and newly formed coalitions, like Voice for Terri, had their Web sites sizzling with news of the case and extensive fundraising appeals.

Prior to Terri's death on Thursday, March 31, her parents had apparently agreed to sell the names and e-mail addresses of donors to and supporters of their daughter's case to Response Unlimited, a right wing direct mail house. However, within 20 hours of David Kirkpatrick's March 29 New York Times piece exposing the arrangement, Response Unlimited withdrew Schindler's list from its catalogue.

Before removing the list from its web site, the Waynesboro, Virginia-based Response Unlimited headed by Philip Zodhiates, was asking $150/month for 6,000 names and $500/month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Terri Schiavo's father, the Times reported. Advertising the list's availability and fundraising potential on its website the firm said: "These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri." The selling point was that the people on the list "are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

The clients listed at Response Unlimited's website mostly consist of a large number of radical right wing personalities and organizations including, Alan Keyes 2000, Alliance Defense Fund, Christian Action Network, Christian Coalition of America, Christianity Today, Clinton Investigative Commission, Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer for President, George W. Bush for President, Heritage Foundation, Jerry Falwell Ministries, Jesse Helms for Senate, Judicial Watch, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, Parents Television Council, Pat Buchanan 2000, Pat Robertson for President, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Republican National Committee, Rudolph W. Giuliani for Senate, Rush Limbaugh, Traditional Values Coalition, Washington Times, and World Magazine.

Now that Terri has died, what will happen with the Schindler list of donors? And how will the money raised around the Schiavo case be used by Christian right organizations?

Saving Terri and Savings Accounts

"Help Save Terri Schiavo's Life!" was the plea on the website of the Rev. Lou Sheldon's Anaheim, California-based Traditional Values Coalition (website), which the New York Times' Kirkpatrick describes as "a Christian conservative group best known for its campaigns against gay rights." Near the link to the website of her parents' foundation is a pitch to "become an active supporter of the Traditional Values Coalition by pledging a monthly gift."

"What this issue has done is it has galvanized people the way nothing could have done in an off-election year," the Rev. Lou Sheldon, the founder of the TVC, told the New York Times. "That is what I see as the blessing that dear Terri's life is offering to the conservative Christian movement in America."

A coalition of anti-abortion Christian right groups -- including representatives from Priests For Life, the Christian Defense Coalition, the National Clergy Council, the Pro-Life Action League, Operation Rescue, Generation Life and the Family Life Educational Foundation -- formed Voice for Terri to raise money for their work around the Schiavo case. According to the Times' Kirkpatrick, these groups spent a great deal of time and energy demonizing Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, sending e-mail messages and setting up websites attacking him.

Troy Newman, a spokesperson for Voice for Terri and the president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue -- the group founded by Randall Terry, who resurfaced in Florida as an invited spokesperson for the Schindler family -- said that the money raised was going to cover the costs of their activities in Florida, and of e-mail and letter-writing campaigns. "This is not something you make money off of," Newman told the Times. "It is a tragedy."

Terry, writes Kirkpatrick, "asked his friends and fellow conservative activists, William Greene and Philip Sheldon -- the son of Lou Sheldon of TVC -- to help raise money through (website), their organization whose slogan is "Patriotism in Action."

Greene is President of PAC. In mid-March Greene co-signed the following fundraising letter with Randall Terry:

Dear Friend,

It is unthinkable... like some dark scenario in a horror movie... but true. An innocent, disabled woman is now being starved to death. Her food and water were suspended on Friday afternoon. [...]

Even if Congress does pass a bill and President Bush signs it, it will only put Terri's case into Federal jurisdiction. Our struggle to save Terri will begin anew.

If you can help us keep up the fight, Just Go Here (link) Now.

At the minute we are sending this e-mail to you, Terri is starving to death. [...]

Give as generous a gift as you can in this historic battle to save Terri's life.

We have to pay for email campaigns, meeting rooms, for a bus, for food, press releases, and a host of other items needed to create a firestorm of protest and outrage on Terri's behalf. The buses alone are $1000 each for each day. [...]

Friend, every action we can take on Terri's behalf is worth the effort. A nation is judged by how it treats its weakest and most defenseless members. Each of us needs to love Terri, as we love ourselves. That means we do all we can to save her life. [...]


Randall Terry, President Society for Truth and Justice William Greene, President


Through its "Christian Response e-Alert," has become one of many right wing groups that concoct campaigns to "convince people that there is a 'them' out there -- liberals in this case -- who are out to destroy America's moral fiber and are thus responsible for working-class misery," as Thom Hartmann described the process in a late-December 2004 article entitled "The Myth of National Victimhood - All Wrapped and Delivered for Christmas".

A case in point: a Christmas 2004 inspired "e-Alert" that leaped into the middle of the Christian right's frenetic campaign "to STOP groups like the ACLU from removing all mentions of Christmas from the public square!" The e-Alert came with a laundry list of examples of how Christmas had supposedly been attacked during the year.

The centerpiece of the campaign was a radio ad that claimed aired "on over 200 STATIONS across America, EVERY DAY for the past TWO WEEKS, reaching over TWO MILLION PEOPLE each week with the message of how they can stand up and DEFEND Christmas from these blatant attacks." In addition, RightMarch's Christian Response team ran "full-page newspaper ads in national publications reaching over one hundred thousand readers, plus an internet ad campaign that has reached hundreds of thousands more viewers online!" (Emphasis in the original text.)

Less than a week after Terri Schiavo's death, donned battle fatigues for the mother of all judicial battles. With the Christian Response e-Alert focusing on "the far-leftists at" and other liberal organizations, Team CR warned that liberals were trying "to stop President Bush from nominating solid conservative judges to the Supreme Court and other federal seats."

The way to stop the liberals is by "getting Senators to change one Senate rule -- and stopping their [Democrats] 'judicial filibuster,'" otherwise known as the "nuclear option," and which RightMarch prefers to call the "constitutional option."

For "just $19" RightMarch will send "Blast Faxes" to the GOP Senators or the Democrat Senators, and for "just $29," each and "EVERY SINGLE ONE" of the Senators will get a fax.

Strategic Internet Campaign Management (SIC-EM)

William Greene also presides over the Buford, Georgia-based Strategic Internet Campaign Management, an organization whose mission is "Helping nonprofit organizations, corporations and political candidates to achieve a better bottom line by using the Internet for fundraising and grassroots activism."

Before starting up SICM, Greene earned his stripes as the vice president of Internet Marketing & Development at Inc. (website), an online fundraising outfit headed by the "Godfather of Direct Mail," Richard Viguerie.

According to SICM's website, Greene is a veteran of a number of right wing campaigns: At, he "spearheaded Internet grassroots efforts such as and the Sixty Second Activist Club, which generated over 1,020,000 faxes, 250,000 petition signatures, 15,000 hand-delivered mailgrams & FedEx's, and 125,000 emails/letters to Congress, the President and other leaders." He also worked with many of Viguerie's clients including the TVC, American Conservative Union, Texas Justice Foundation, Linda Chavez' Stop Union Political Abuse, the Conservative Leadership Political Action Committee, Federer for Congress, Conrad for Congress, Help Hospitalized Veterans, and the House Managers PAC, among others.

Greene's company also hitched itself to the rather meager bandwagon of Alan Keyes, the radical right wing African American Illinois senatorial candidate who got beaten badly by Barak Obama last fall.

In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected Greene as one of its "Rising Stars of Politics"; the Washington Times called Greene a "conservative Internet guru," and he has been named to Who's Who in America in 2003 and 2004.

Terri's parents have also set up a website, The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, where they accept donations to the cause. According to the Times, the website, it is "the only legitimate place to contribute to her legal defense," and asks donors to bring to their attention "any other source that claims to be a fund-raising effort on [Terri's]...behalf."

Gary McCullough's Past Association with Violent Anti-abortionists

Although officials at Response Unlimited refused comment on Schindler list issues, Gary McCullough, director of the Washington, DC-based Christian Communication Network -- a "media relations service" -- and a spokesman for Terri Schiavo's parents, "confirmed" that Terri's father had made the deal after the company agreed to send a fundraising e-mail solicitation on the family's behalf.

McCullough has worked with Operation Rescue and is a media advisor for Randall Terry. According to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, McCullough and Terry have been involved with the Schindler family since October 2003, when they first visited the family.

On October 13, 2003, Cybercast News Service (CNS), a subsidiary of the L. Brent Bozell's conservative news monitoring group, the Media Research Center, announced that "Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, and Gary McCullough of the Christian Communication Network have joined the effort to save a disabled woman from a court ruling that will end her life."

"Terri's parents...who have not completely given up hope that somehow their daughter's life will be spared, invited [Randall Terry], as well as Gary McCullough of Christian Communication Network, to organize a round-the-clock vigil," CNS reported.

"Terry...explained his reasons to WorldNetDaily for becoming involved in the major euthanasia case. ... 'The fundamental right that all of us have is the right to life,' Terry said. 'Whether we're pre-born or disabled or in old age, no one has the right to summarily execute us.'...He and McCullough hope to draw 'statewide and national attention to this cruel execution,' said Terry."

In late-March of this year, Salon's World O'Crap weblog wrote: "You recall Gary McCullough, don't you? He's the one who defended murderer Michael Griffin by claiming that killing an abortion provider is 'justifiable homicide,' was closely associated with double-murderer Paul Hill; funneled money to Clayton Waagner, the anti-abortion 'terrirst' who sent those anthrax hoax letters to abortion clincs; and has been arrested 30 times (he says) for his involvement in disruptive abortion protests."

World O'Crap noted that he found "it interesting that nobody in the media has brought up Gary's past, even though he's been in the spotlight for days now in connection with his position as a 'Schindler family spokesman.'"

Even Richard Viguerie thought that the list-selling caper was a bit pre-mature. But Viguerie believes that the controversy will blow over in good time. "I think it sounds a little unusual right now because of the situation where she is in the process of dying," Viguerie, told the New York Times. "If you came across this information six months or a year from now, I don't think you would give it too much thought."

In a few months, when the Terri Schiavo case has drifted into the ether inhabited by such cultural cataclysms as the Elian Gonzalez case, those who sent money or a supportive message to the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation will discover that they've made Schindler's list. Their e-mail boxes and snail-mail boxes will be stuffed by a host of appeals from organizations pushing everything from the privatization of Social Security to school vouchers to an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the constitution.

Article courtesy, a 501(c)(3) charity of Cursor, Inc

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Albion Monitor May 12, 2005 (

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