“We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!” the ad continues. “We are currently seeking operatives to help send a strong message at upcoming inauguration protests.”
The job offers a monthly retainer of $2,500 plus “our standard per-event pay of $50/hr, as long as you participate in at least 6 events a year,” as well as health, vision and dental insurance for full-time operatives.
Mr. Trump has complained about paid activists both before and after the 2016 presidential campaign, but if anti-Trump advocacy groups are juicing their crowds with hired help, nobody’s admitting it.
“There’s simply no credible evidence that the opposition to Trump is spurred by anything other than legitimate concern about what his presidency might entail,” said a Nov. 17 column in the Washington Post’s The Fix.
PolitiFact reported that a widely shared Nov. 11 article claiming an anti-Trump protester was paid $3,500 was fake news created by Paul Horner, who runs a number of phony news sites.
If the Demand Protest ads are ruses, however, someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to sell the scam. The classifieds are running in at least two dozen cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Houston, and the company operates a slick website that includes contact information.
A San Francisco phone number listed on the website was answered with a voice-mail message identifying the company by name. A request for comment left Monday evening was not immediately returned.
The website, which says that the company has provided 1,817 operatives for 48 campaigns, promises “deniability,” assuring clients that “we can ensure that all actions will appear genuine to media and public observers.”
“We are strategists mobilizing millennials across the globe with seeded audiences and desirable messages,” says the website. “With absolute discretion a top priority, our operatives create convincing scenes that become the building blocks of massive movements. When you need the appearance of outrage, we are able to deliver it at scale while keeping your reputation intact.”
More than 100 left-wing groups, led by organizations such as Occupy Inauguration and the DisruptJ20 coalition, are calling on Trump foes to participate in inauguration protests being organized in Washington, D.C., and all 50 states.
The demonstrations are aimed at disrupting Friday’s inaugural ceremony and parade, as well as balls and festivities pegged to the celebration.
A search by the Washington Times showed the Backpage.com ads also ran in Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Fort Worth, Jacksonville, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C.
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