Carper invitation pokes fun at political fundraisers
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper had his tongue firmly in cheek when he mailed a recent plea for campaign funds.
While he held no fundraising events this time around, he sent out a plea before the election that borrowed from David Letterman's Top 10 skits.
Now Carper is at it again with a mailer asking his contributors to help him retire his campaign debt.
At $300, it's not exactly a princely sum.
But Carper's fundraiser happens to be Thursday, the same night as Republican Attorney General-elect Patrick Morrisey's Charleston debt retirement fundraiser. Morrisey's fundraiser is no joke: he is trying to get back some of the $943,000 he lent his campaign.
The timing of the events is an interesting coincidence. Morrisey's event is downtown and lasts from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Carper's is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. across town and on the other side of the Kanawha River.
Carper, who has served on the commission for 16 years, was re-elected in the November general election.
The front page of the mailer depicts a thoughtful-looking Carper under the headline "Person of the Year" on a mock "Time" magazine cover.
Inside is a picture of a smiling Carper giving a thumbs-up.
"My only real debt is to you - My supporters," it says.
"When you have the privilege of being elected to an office, you should take that office seriously," Carper said. "But some elected officials take themselves way too seriously."
His intention is to throw a party.
"I want to get people together and celebrate," he said. "And that's what we're going to do."
Carper joked that he hopes to raise enough money at the post-election fundraiser to pay for the shrimp and grape leaves that will be eaten at Aladdin Restaurant on Chesterfield Avenue.
"This is certainly not about me recouping any money," he said. "My message is to bring yourself."
The invitation reads, "While monetary contributions will enable me to retire my campaign's debt, I want to take this opportunity to spend time and personally thank each of you for your unconditional support and unbridled faith in my leadership for Kanawha County."
Carper's biggest expense during his campaign was a thank-you advertisement he ran after he was reelected. It cost about $1,300.
Carper hopes people catch the humor he intended.
"I'm really trying to send the message that it's an important job and an important position, but people really need to lighten up a bit," he added.
A little humor in politics is needed, especially in partisan times like now, he said.
"We're heading into very contentious times in West Virginia politically," Carper said.
Although Carper believes most people will get the joke, chalking it up to him "just being Kent," he realizes a political opponent could use the mailer against him in races to come.
He's not worried.
"That just comes with the territory," he said. "The people who don't like me will criticize me anyway."
Carper said he came up with the idea on his own.
"I think it's original," he said. "Everyone I've sent it to so far just breaks out laughing."
He discussed it with campaign consultant Larry LaCorte before the idea was finalized. The photo shoot took only a few minutes.
Rainmaker Media Group took over from there, Carper said. The company handled the layout and the graphics.
Carper was unsure how many were mailed. However, he will be sending the invitations via email as well.
"They're being mailed out to a lot of my friends, supporters and political enemies just to annoy them," he said with a laugh.
Asked if there was anything he would like to add about the mailer or the event, Carper was ready with a laugh and the response, "It's a cash bar."