Scandal Gets Conservative Group Going

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The American Conservative Union, Alexandria, VA, is using a direct mail survey and fundraising campaign to make sure the public doesn't forget about the problems surrounding President Clinton.

The ACU began sending the mailings, titled the National Impeachment Survey, just as discussion of an impeachment inquiry started heating up last month.

"There was a lot of talk in the air that Congress might be getting ready to do something," said managing director Donald Devine. "It got to the point where it became clear that they had to do something or were at least planning to do something, and we were looking to get it out before they did."

The ACU has a membership of 500,000 and a mailing list of more than 800,000. It's targeting the majority of its members with the survey, as well as a large number of Republicans outside its organization.

"There are currently about 3 million mailings out in the pipeline," Devine said. "We are hoping to hit the 20 million mark eventually. We plan to keep this campaign going as long as it looks like it is working."

According to ACU president David Keene, the initial part of the campaign will help pay for advertising that will focus on reaching people outside the political right. The survey consists of 14 questions, ranging from "Do you consider yourself to be a Republican?" to "Has the media been as tough on the Clinton White House as it was on the Nixon White House?" Respondents also are asked to make donations.

Keene said he has so far seen a "very good response" to the mailing. The ACU wouldn't reveal the number of responses or the amount of money raised, though Devine said the average donation returned is $30-$40.

The ACU is waiting until it has a substantial number of responses before it shows anything to the Republican members in Congress.

"Direct mail will help us achieve our goal of keeping the issue in front of the public," Keene said.

Not surprisingly, the responses of those who have returned surveys have overwhelmingly been in favor of impeachment, said Devine, who added that the mailings will continue as long as the issue is around.

"This is an open-ended project based on events that take place day to day," he said. "I don't think he will resign on his own, but if he did, then we would stop."

Mike Lux, senior vice president for the bipartisan People for the American Way, Washington, said Congress is ignoring other issues to deal with the scandal.

"I think it is a mistake to keep this issue hanging around," said Lux, whose group is running a national TV and print campaign called "Let's Move On!" "Congress should take quick action, make the punishment fit the crime and get back to dealing with the more important issues at hand and do what the American people want."

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