Barton Retires as DMA's Congressional Relations Chief

Richard Barton, senior vice president for congressional relations at the Direct Marketing Association, Washington, Monday that he will retire from the DMA on Dec. 31 after more than 22 years.

Barton, 62, plans to become an industry consultant on postal, privacy and tax collection issues. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in public policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

In a statement, DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen said, “During his 22-and-a-half years at the DMA, Dick has represented the association and our members with dedication and notable success. For many, Dick Barton is the DMA. For many others, he is a trusted resource and valuable ally.

“The DMA and the direct marketing industry will miss Dick, and we wish him well in his retirement.”

Wientzen is searching for a replacement and expects to announce a successor to Barton soon.

Born in Baltimore, Barton earned his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in 1960 and his master's degree in political science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

From 1965 to 1978, Barton worked in various staff positions at the House Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service, where he helped to write the legislation that transformed the old Post Office Department into the U.S. Postal Service.

In 1978, Barton joined the DMA as vice president for public affairs. In the early 1980s he was appointed the DMA's senior vice president for government affairs. Five years ago he was named to the then-new position of senior vice president for congressional relations.

Barton said the direct marketing industry has changed for the better over the years.

“The direct marketing industry has gone way beyond mail — although mail is still the foundation of it — into telemarketing and e-commerce,” Barton said. “The whole concept of communicating directly to customers has become far more sophisticated and far more successful. It's really been fascinating to watch this industry grow from what was essentially a mail-order operation into a highly sophisticated, multi-medium industry.”

Barton said, however, that as the industry has grown, “the issues that concern us have changed and have become more complicated. For example, when I first came here, 90 percent of my work was postal, and now, even though we still do a huge amount of postal work, privacy is now the key issue.”

As for the postal service, Barton said it “has to reform itself and reorganize itself so that it can compete like a private business — even if that means making it a private business — or it is going to basically price itself out of the market.”

Barton said reform ultimately will happen, “and even though we are all very concerned about it, it is a very strong organization, and it has pretty good leadership. So I am optimistic that we will be able to do the kind of reorganization necessary, but it's going to have to happen sooner rather than later.”

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