Marijuana Policy Project Cancels Playboy Mansion Fundraiser, Citing Obvious Reasons
Rob Kampia with Chief of Staff Alison Green
Last month, Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia took a three-month leave of absence from the nation's leading pot advocacy organization in order to receive therapy for his "hypersexualized" condition. In the office, symptoms of that condition included: Pursuing MPP employees for sex, sending e-mails to a subordinate stating his intention to administer a "breast massage" to an MPP donor, allegedly telling a female employee that she's look "hotter with a boob job," and staging MPP's annual fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion.
In Kampia's stead, MPP no. 2 Alison Green has stayed on to manage the fallout of Kampia's longtime workplace obsessions. One casualty of Kampia's therapy leave: The Playboy party appears to be kaput.
In an organization-wide e-mail, Green informed staffers that "MPP will not be holding a party at the Playboy Mansion this year." Green attributed the cancellation to Kampia's absence: "without Rob doing his normal major donor fundraising we simply don't have the cash flow to pay the up-front deposits that would be due now," she wrote. She also admitted that corralling MPP's staff into a mansion devoted to porn and staffed with professionally naked women isn't the best way to combat recent public concern over MPP's sexually-charged environment. "Plus, the PR ramifications of holding the event right now are probably obvious," she wrote.
Green then encouraged staffers to parrot this official word on MPP's choice to vacate the Mansion this year: "While MPP greatly appreciates and benefited from our association with Playboy over the past four years, in 2010 our VIP and major donor event calendar will showcase our flagship fundraiser at a new venue that will represent the diversity of MPP's supporters."
Playmates aren't the only MPP extras getting the ax in the new year. In another e-mail to staff, Green detailed the immediate financial effects of Kampia being temporarily benched:
As you know, we're working on a very tight budget for the next few months, since we currently don't have either of our top two fundraisers raising money for us (Rob and Troy). As a result, please be very frugal with your expenses — including travel costs, books, printing, etc. If in doubt, please check with your department head or me before incurring an expense. There may also be additional barriers to getting a trip approved, so please clear any travel ahead of time. Our ability to move forward without additional cost cuts is 100% dependent on our ability to pay our expenses with the amount of money we're taking in.
Also getting the forwarding treatment—a note from MPP Trustees outlining the organization's plans for the company's "immediate future," including possible downsizing of the organization's grants program:
We apologize to the staff for the uncertainty that has resulted from the Board's efforts to resolve the issues relating to our Executive Director's behavior.
We realize that it's harder to work at an organization where the staff or leadership are in transition or turmoil. We continue to seek to minimize that turmoil.
Because Rob is on leave, currently both MPP and MPPF have no acting Executive Director. For the duration, the organizations will be managed by two leaders at the top. Karen O'Keefe will be responsible for Federal Policies (Aaron Houston will report to her) and State Policies and State Campaigns (Steve Fox ditto). Alison Green will be responsible for Communications (Kurt Gardiner will report to her), Online Outreach (John Berry), Membership (Marsha Wallen), Events and Outreach (Andrea Farnum) and IT (Eric Smith). Karen and Alison will work out issues that overlap. They will both report to the board, and will be invited to participate in board meetings.
Alison and the staff have prepared a budget suggesting that MPP can sustain most of what has already been planned between now and May. This depends on Peter Lewis contributing $200,000 per month, as he has committed to do, and on other committed contributions arriving. Many board members are working to make their contributions early in the year, to offset the loss of our fund-raising capability from Rob's leave, Troy's departure and our decision not to have the Playboy party.
Though Peter is donating toward MPP operations, he has decided not to donate to the MPP grants program at this time. Unless we can quickly raise significant grants-program money from elsewhere, there will be serious impacts on some of our grantees. We will be working with the staff and with those organizations to minimize those impacts. Most of our state grantees were not expecting grants over the next several months, and will not see an immediate impact; the organizations at risk are the national ones. At this point we do not know whether there will be an MPP grants program later in the year or in future years.
Thank you for persevering through a difficult time for the organization. Despite that difficulty, it's a great time for accomplishing our goals. The public is coming around to our point of view. While they are with us, let's change some marijuana laws!