Hmm... did Annette Bosworth get a job writing fundraising letters for St. Joseph Indian School?
Dr. Bosworth is now marketing example #1 that Base Connect uses to tout its political fundraising potential. On a webpage titled "Nuts & Bolts" (you had her at "Nuts," boys), the Washington D.C. direct-mail firm cites Bosworth as an example of how they can raise millions of dollars on an entirely fake candidate.
Now CNN finds that St. Joseph's in Chamberlain is raking in cash with stories of abused Indian children who don't exist:
According to its financial statements, St. Joseph's Indian School raised more than $51 million last year from millions of Americans who donated because of those mailings.
CNN began receiving complaints about mailings like this more than two years ago. When asked about Josh Little Bear's letter, Kory Christianson, the director of development, wrote us that there was no such student.
"The name 'Josh Little Bear' is fictitious," he wrote, "but unfortunately, his story is not" [David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, "U.S. Indian School's Fundraising Letters Sent to Millions Signed by Fictitious Kids," CNN.com, 2014.11.17].
CNN sees no sign that St. Joseph's is misusing the millions it makes on what one critic calls "poverty porn." However, making up stories to convince people to give money is something we expect of Annette Bosworth and Mike Rounds, not folks trying to do real good for South Dakotans.
CNN almost got the school's president to discuss the proper boundaries of truth in marketing, but his marketing director cut off the conversation:
We tried unsuccessfully to interview the leadership of St. Joseph's. The communications director, Jona Ohm, first invited us to meet the school president at the small museum operated by the school.
The president, Mike Tyrell, acknowledged that the mailings "push the edge" of marketing and asking about them "is a legitimate question." But Ohm told us to stop.
"You don't have permission to record in any way, shape or form," she said [Fitzpatrick and Griffin, 2014.11.17].
I have no doubt that St. Jospeh's Indian School is doing good work that merits its donors' support. I also have no doubt they can earn that support with simple fact, not fiction.