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Tom Shillue

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Rantz: Union group’s latest ‘slavery’ attack a way to SPAM you

A screenshot of a response from State Rep. Matt Manweller. (Courtesy of Working Washington)

Labor union activist group Working Washington is on the attack again, this time outrageously claiming a Washington State Representative is endorsing slavery. Well, they’re asking if he is: that way they can give themselves cover (they’re just asking questions) when they’re rightfully called out for their atrocious and exploitive attack. And while on the surface this looks to be another stunt from the group, it’s really a means to add recipients to their email distribution list.

State Representative Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) is not a fan of the statewide minimum wage increase, which he believes will cause businesses to forgo hiring the very people the minimum-wage increase is supposed to help.

Related: Did Rep. Jayapal change her message on Trump acceptance?

Manweller made the mistake of trying to engage in conversation with labor activists (some of whom get paid to push the labor union’s minimum-wage work; one of which claimed that Republicans “hate democracy”). Manweller, in a tweet, said “$0 would be perfect min wage.” Manweller is against minimum wage laws as he believes that they hurt workers, and it was in that context that the conversation took place.

Then, he got a message from an emailer identified as Bill who wrote, “Zero as a minimum wage? Sorry but that was eliminated by the Civil War.” Manweller responded, jokingly, “Add that to the list of mistakes that were made during the Civil War then.” The emailer apparently sent the response to Working Washington.

That was enough for Working Washington to screen shot (and edit) the email exchange and distribute a press release with the subject line “Did State Rep Matt Manweller just endorse slavery?”

I chatted with Manweller, who wasn’t surprised he was getting criticized by Working Washington, which he calls a “dishonest socialist front group.”

“To suggest that anyone support slavery or that people should not get paid for work is patently absurd,” Manweller told me. “No one I know thinks that; obviously I don’t think that.”

As to the mistakes made during the Civil War, he gave me a partial list explaining his position: “The mass killing of civilians during the New York draft riots. The rehiring of George B McClellan after he was relieved of command. Ignoring the writ of habeas corpus in the ex parte Merryman case. Using military tribunals to try civilians. The important conditions at the Andersonville prison. The entire battle of Chancellorsville.”

He continued: “I stand by my view that minimum-wage laws are harmful. They kill jobs, disproportionately hurt minorities, young people and immigrants. Simply put, minimum-wage laws do more harm than good. This does not mean people shouldn’t be paid a fair wage for their work. It means free people should be allowed to freely negotiate their wages with other free people and come to a voluntary and mutually agreed upon wage. That’s the way markets have always worked. The government has no business telling people what they can and cannot work for.”

Working Washington’s response

Working Washington’s Sage Wilson claimed that “more than 2,000” emails were sent as a result of their campaign against Manweller, which, they claim, included folks from the Ellensburg area. They’re hoping the media helps promote their email-writing campaign.

Labor activists and groups like Working Washington have a tendency to try to bully the opposition into silence. While it won’t work with Manweller, an outspoken critic of dishonest Progressive groups, it’s meant to signal other lawmakers to stay silent or be accused of outlandish things, like supporting slavery. Does anyone really think Manweller supports slavery? Has civil discourse devolved so much that you actually believe what Working Washington claims?

They know most of you don’t, but they also know this is the type of stunt susceptible to going viral. And there is value in that. On their website, they allow you to submit a letter to Manweller via their form. And they use that form to collect data — the very data they then use to target you with their SPAM emails.

I asked Sage Wilson, of Working Washington, how many Ellensburg emails were sent to Manweller, since Working Washington made that claim. His response? “You should ask him [Manweller]. He’s responded to quite a few of them.” How cute — and evasive.

I’ve pushed Wilson for an answer and he, again, ignored my question, this time sending me an email comment from someone who wrote to Manweller (it should note, the quote gives zero indication that he thinks Manweller supports slavery; he simply disagrees with Manweller’s stance on the minimum wage). I suspect the reason Wilson keeps ignoring my question is he doesn’t want to highlight the fine print on his email form that gives Working Washington permission to collect your data to target you with emails (you’re automatically opted in), which I view as SPAM.

I did ask Manweller how many local emails he received, by the way, and he said, “Maybe about a dozen.” He did, as Wilson claimed, respond to quite a few of them. But how did Wilson know that? Perhaps they were plants? Perhaps many were written by the same person using fake accounts meant to bait Manweller into a response they can exploit for attention and further data collection? I dunno … “I’m just asking questions.”

Update: Wilson, after I asked three times for the information, responded: “Sorry but not going to give you database information to analyze.” Can’t argue with that, as they’re hard at work building that database with ideologues who might actually fall for this stunt.

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