Pro-Life Group Draws Continued Criticism, Lawsuit Over Fundraising Tactics

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 19, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Group Draws Continued Criticism, Lawsuit Over Fundraising

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 19, 2003

Sterling, VA ( — The Pro-Life Campaign Committee (PLCC) is no stranger to criticism. The Virginia-based organization has been the subject of complaints and warnings from pro-life organizations across the country since its inception.

Pro-life groups allege the organization has engaged in questionable fundraising practices.

The Pro-Life Campaign Committee says it lobbies on partial-birth abortion and works to elect pro-life candidates. Yet, according to Political Money Line, a leading web site that monitors campaign finance documents, the organization’s FEC reports show more than 90 percent of the money it has raised has gone to two telemarketing firms.

"The Pro-Life Campaign Committee raised over $3 million in the first six months of 2003, and spent almost all of it on fundraising services paid to Capitol Communications and HCC Political Advertising, both of Mesa, Arizona," Political Money Line wrote in a recent update.

The web site also notes that PLCC has failed to properly file its reports on time and include all of the required information, including information on the amount of money it spends fundraising.

"The FEC has sent numerous requests and non-filing notices to [PLCC] and [PLCC] has backfiled amended reports for most periods," Political Money Line wrote in their memo.

Representatives of the Pro-Life Campaign Committee did not return a request for comment.

Barb Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan, is one of many concerned about what is happening.

"Unfortunately, there are some organizations which are raising money claiming to make a difference in the pro-life movement, but the money is not being spent to save the lives of the unborn nor to help women facing a crisis pregnancy," Listing said.

She isn’t alone.

The state of Kansas has taken notice and filed a lawsuit against the organization in May.

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who is pro-life, filed a consumer protection lawsuit against both the Pro-Life Campaign Committee and Pablo Gersten, the group’s treasurer. Kline accuses the group of "mailing false invoices to raise money for non-existent charitable campaigns."

A Wichita, Kansas resident received such a false invoice and Kline believes others may have as well. The Pro-Life Campaign Committee is not a registered charity in Kansas.

"These kinds of deceptive practices are a violation of the law and of the generosity of Kansas citizens," Kline said.

If Gersten is found guilty of violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, he could be subject to $20,000 or more in fines.

Mary Kay Culp, the director of Kansas for Life, says the group’s calls have generated confusion among pro-life residents of the state.

"We have had many calls and letters from Kansas pro-lifers who were disappointed to learn that the group they donated to was not us," Culp told

The extent of the telemarketing calls and the confusion generated in other states has led consumer groups to issue warnings and alerts to its members.

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid has warned that state’s residents about PLCC and encourages people who receive calls not to give out credit card numbers over the phone.

"West Virginia seniors who are inclined to support pro-life causes are vulnerable to these kinds of scams," the legal group wrote in a memo. "Any reputable organization should be willing to provide an address and accept a donation check in the mail. Mailing a check also creates a traceable trail that can help law enforcement investigate a possible scam."

The Better Business Bureau in Spokane, Washington also issued an alert in May 2002 saying, "unscrupulous organizations such as this divert funds from legitimate organizations attempting to remain active and efficient to their causes."

This isn’t the first time Capitol Communications has been the recipient of telemarketing dollars from groups under scrutiny by the pro-life community.

The Arizona firm was on the receiving end of approximately 95 percent of the funds raised by Elect Life and American Right to Life, two groups that were previously under fire because of similar fundraising practices.

Both Capitol Communications and the groups in question claimed the telemarketing calls, which alert recipients to the status of partial-birth abortion legislation, constitute the lobbying the groups perform.

The city of Mesa, Arizona is monitoring the situation and issued a statement in December 2002 saying it has received warnings about PLCC and "two scam alerts on this company."

According to documentation from the Arizona Secretary of State, Capitol Communications and HCC Political Advertising are located within a mile of each other in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. No other pro-life organizations, according to FEC records, have used either telemarketing firm for business.’s request for a statement from Capitol Communications had not been returned by press time.