A reader emailed me:
I got the same thing on donations about 2 weeks ago (see attached). UghHere are the attachments:
A group of “researchers” using a Harvard University return address (108 Littauer Center – I checked and Harvard has that center.) is sending out campaign contribution information showing one Republican donor (me) and multiple (blinded) Democratic donors. This reeks of intimidation tactics, i.e. “we have your name, etc and we will spotlight you”. They claim this is information from “my neighborhood” – I know I live in a very Republican neighborhood so these names could be pulled from anywhere, e.g. the big UVA Democrat areas several miles from here.
Have others received similar notes? They do it under the guise of “research” but the timing and tone seem very fishy if not illegal. Is this research being funded by “stimulus” funds by the Federal Government? I am sure there are other questions here.
I have not gone to their website for fear of tracking, etc.
I didn’t know what to do with it but your posting encourages me to at least share it with you.
ADDED: In the Comments, The Drill SGT points to this article, from a couple days ago, in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Hey, Here’s Who Your Neighbors Gave Money to. Sincerely, Harvard."
The research is being conducted by Ricardo Perez-Truglia, a graduate student in economics at Harvard, and Guillermo Cruces, deputy director of the Center for Distributive, Labor, and Social Studies at the National University of La Plata, in Argentina. According to the Web site for the project, the purpose of sending out the letters is to understand how “the open nature of information can affect contributions.”...
The researchers declined to offer more information about the study until it’s completed. They wouldn’t say how many letters they had sent or how many complaints they had received (though Truglia wrote in an e-mail that it was an “extremely small” number). The project was approved in advance by Harvard’s Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research, but, in a statement, the university said that a research-ethics committee would “review these complaints to determine if changes should be implemented to the study or, as all the planned mailings have already been sent, whether lessons learned from this study and the questions and complaints it generated can inform the design of future studies.”