Sen. Wayne Allard posted a constitutent alert on his Senate web site today warning that a fundamentalist religious group used his name in a fundraising letter to promote its Social Security reform drive without his permission. Colorado Confidential has requested a copy of the letter from Allard’s office.
The Christian Seniors Association (CSA) which purports itself to be a faith-based alternative to the secular American Association of Retired Persons. CSA is a division of the ultra-conservative religious group Traditional Values Coalition [warning: audio file embedded in home page] – a group with a rather shady history of financial problems including involvement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
CSA claims in its April 26 press release that AARP is promoting a myth about the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. According to the Christian news service, One News Now.com, the group advised its members in a Feburary fundraising letter to support conservative GOP bills to ban illegal immigrants from receiving future Social Security credits for work done while undocumented and to force Social Security to use its payroll collections only for program benefits.
CSA’s fundraising letters have been making the rounds for years and were chronicled by the AARP Bulletin Online in 2003:
AARP has received dozens of inquiries about the “Christian Seniors Association” mailings. As it turns out, they were crafted by ultraconservative direct-mail entrepreneur Richard A. Viguerie, who over the years has had a hand in creating several other anti-AARP organizations, including United Seniors Association, the Seniors Coalition and the 60 Plus Association.
Christian Seniors Association, identified in the mailings as “a division of Traditional Values Coalition,” operates out of the offices of its parent organization in Washington, D.C.
In an interview with the AARP Bulletin, James Lafferty, the executive director of Christian Seniors Association, said it would seek to be a voice “for seniors who believe that the Christians in this country need to be protected.”
James Lafferty is the son-in-law of Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition and a vociferous anti-gay activist. The coalition recently issued a press release denying the need for federal hate crimes legislation to protect gay and lesbian Americans because “Surely, if this was such a horrific national problem, state highway patrol officers would have reported on clogged highways filled with fleeing homosexuals and drag queens…”
Sheldon found himself in hot water last year when it was disclosed that he accepted $25,000 from Jack Abramoff and pro-gambling interests to lobby Congress against a bill to prohibit online gambling. Sheldon, who was nicknamed “Lucky Louie” by Abramoff, had previously railed against gambling as sinful.
Watchdog groups and previous news reports have found that the Christian Seniors Association and Traditional Values Coalition appear to only employ Sheldon and his family members. The groups have raked in tens of millions of dollars from supporters while running a deficit as high as $4 million in 2004. Current figures are unavailable.