Astroturf Expert Forms NIMBY Campaign

The new Virginia-based group "Citizens for a Safe Alexandria" describes itself as a grassroots group, but its founder works for a public relations firm that specializes in "'grassroots' and 'grasstops' media strategies." Citizens for a Safe Alexandria's Sara Raak has appeared on local television news, urging the Obama administration not to "put those of us in the Alexandria neighborhood at risk" by bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the area to stand trial. Raak's day job is with OnPoint Advocacy, which runs Democracy Data & Communications, a member of the Public Affairs Council recently linked to an Astroturf website pushing for continued U.S. military spending on F-22 Raptor fighter jets. Raak's also worked for the DCI Group and Progress for America and managed "grassroots advocacy programs" for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She said OnPoint / DDC have "nothing to do" with Citizens for a Safe Alexandria, except for helping with the group's website. She added that the new group has "no funding," except "what she, her husband and two associates who are 'other moms' in Alexandria put into the effort." Raak said the group will be "'put[ting] out some pamphlets' against Guantanamo detainees going on trial in Alexandria and distribute them in Old Town and at area flea markets."