PMA’s Rebecca Madigan Responds To The Loss In Illinois And Why The Fight Has Just Begun

Note: This article is a reprint of a response Rebecca Madigan, Executive Director of the Performance Marketing Association, gave in the comments section of our Illinois Gov. Quinn Flaunts “Fairness” in Passing Nexus Tax, Cuts off Nose to Spite Amazon story. The response shed light on the PMA’s stance on the situation. We contacted Rebecca and asked if we could reprint the response separately so it would not be lost in the comment thread of the other article and give readers more of an opportunity to reply to the PMA. Here it is, for your information:

I don’t have much to add to the amazing comments on this thread. I’m late responding because of hard cross-country travel. I’m not going to share publicly where I was because I was visiting with state legislators in other states. The Alliance of Main Street Fairness crew are following the activities of this industry and the PMA very carefully, and have tactically reacted to everything we do. We show up – they show up. Their lobbyists see us with affiliates at various state houses; they follow us around and undo all our work with their yarns. They read this website. They quote comments from this website back to legislators. We believe they infiltrated a weekly strategy call we have with public policy folks and lobbyists. They are playing dirty – on many fronts.

This year the game changed. The money and power behind these big box retailers is much greater than we expected. Our fate was probably sealed years ago when the big box guys started getting the right politicians elected who could force this legislation through, and their guys just took office.

We realize we lose the support of more people by keeping our tactics close. But after doing this for 3 years, and getting burned many times, we made the decision that the risk of a more publicly waged grassroots campaign was much greater than the gains.

We ask all our grassroots advocates to join private in-state Google groups, where we share and discuss updates and tactics. Several networks post information just to affiliates in states where there are active bills. ABW has a private forum. It’s not to keep affiliates or interested activists out, it’s to keep the bill proponents out.

Agree with Jim Kukral’s post that we have a branding issue. Agree we could do a better job in the press. Agree we need more people to help. Agree the PMA site could be better updated. But we’re a small industry, the PMA is a small organization, and we decided to put most of our resources directly into the actual fights. I’m not updating our site because I’m in multiple states every week, along with amazing affiliate activists, fighting this on the ground. We wish more than anything we had more resources to keep everyone better updated.

And now to the affiliate activists. YOU are the ones who are making a difference. We’ve beaten this back in every state since 2009, the only state to pass in 18 months. It was accomplished because legislators got to see real live business owners who would be devastated if passed. Amazing, wonderful, passionate people have gotten involved. Tim, Scott, Brian and so many other Illinois affiliate marketers put their businesses on the line and fought their hearts out. As someone said to me Monday, “If this passed and I didn’t do anything, I’d feel terrible.” Yes, that’s a very terrible feeling.

Here’s the deal: we’re actually still winning. Yes, Illinois was a terrible blow but the Governor took so long because the Illinois affiliates made it extremely difficult for him to sign. We’re seeing a kitchen sink of tactics and misinformation being thrown at this by the proponents because they’re desperate, they don’t have logical legal arguments on their side like we do. We still have uber-successful affiliate business owners who don’t whine about unfairness but who work hard, grow their businesses and contribute to the economy.

We can’t back down – we aren’t backing down. We’re actually going to UP the game. We can win this war!

  • Chris

    Quote: We’ve beaten this back in every state since 2009, the only state to pass in 18 months. Quote End

    This is not correct. Colorado was another loss. I know this since I a) live there and b) lost a major piece of my income when Amazon pulled out. Even though the court struck it down earlier this year, it is still not off the table and Amazon has NOT reinstated former affiliates. The changes that were made last year between law makers and “affiliates” helped only the bigger affiliate companies in CO – the small affiliates were left out in the cold and fed to the sharks. If Adperio and others would have not sold out to the state, things might have been different. But they sold out to the State trying to save their own butt – leaving us smaller affiliates out there to be slaughtered. Thank you very much.

    The whining about Illinois is big – boohoo. The writing was on the wall for a long time. If affiliates did not prepare them self while they still had time – tough luck. The states that got hit before Illinois did not have that luxury of time. But those states offered a lesson learned and I hope Illinois affiliates acted based on our experience.