Michael Huttner, ProgressNow not responding to questions about not-awarded Hawaii trip

Categories: Media, News

michael huttner on fox.JPG
Michael Huttner.
As part of the August 2009 launch of 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America, Michael Huttner, the book's co-author, as well as founder and CEO of ProgressNow.org, promised to give away a trip to Hawaii to the person with the best idea to improve America. Over two years later, no prize has been awarded, and Huttner, ProgressNow and the book's publisher aren't responding to interview requests on the subject.

Stirring the pot is KHOW talk-show host Peter Boyles, whose ideological differences with ProgressNow are clear. Note that the winner of the trip was supposed to visit the hospital where Barack Obama was born -- and Boyles is a leading voice in the so-called birther movement, which questions the authenticity of documents establishing Obama as a U.S. native. For the past few days, Boyles has stated categorically that no trip was given away -- and that's confirmed by Jason Salzman, co-author of the book.

50 ways book cover.jpg
As for Salzman's participation in the project, he says, "ProgressNow, through Mike Huttner, hired me first to help him write the book for a flat fee. Then ProgressNow contracted with a publisher" -- California's PoliPointPress -- "to get it published. And later, I was hired to help ProgressNow promote it."

By the way, the ProgressNow arm involved in the project was the national organization, which has created partnerships with other progressive groups throughout the country, including Keystone Promise, One Wisconsin Now and Courage Campaign. There's also a local branch, ProgressNow Colorado, which is separate from the national organization, although the groups share the same phone number and Wynkoop Street office space.

As Salzman points out, he was a contractor to ProgressNow's national organization and had no role in the Hawaii contest beyond helping to publicize it. He suggests that questions about the contest be directed to Huttner, PoliPointPress and ProgressNow national.

Unfortunately, these three seem less than eager to address the issue. Huttner, who served as a Westword intern back in 1989, when he was still in high school, has not returned multiple interview requests. PoliPointPress hasn't replied to an inquiry, either. And ProgressNow National spokesperson Denise Cardinal, based in Minnesota, offered only an e-mail that reads, "Not to pass the buck but I just took this job -- you'll have to talk to Michael Huttner or his publisher."

Cardinal didn't answer followup questions in regard to Huttner's current status with ProgressNow. Fortunately, however, ProgressNow Colorado's Kjersten Forseth cleared up the confusion. She says Huttner ended his affiliation with the Colorado group a year or more ago and cut ties with the national organization this past October in order to create his own firm, the Huttner Group. At this writing, the Huttner Group's website is a place-holder page featuring only a phone number and an e-mail address. No response thus far to messages left or sent there.

KHOW's Boyles believes that by promising to award prizes and then not doing so, ProgressNow violated both Colorado and federal law, including the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. But thus far, he's been unable to interest the Colorado Attorney General's office in starting an investigation, as he confirmed on-air this morning during a portion of his program on which I appeared.

Even if no laws were broken, however, the organization risks appearing evasive by stonewalling on the issue. Even if Huttner is no longer part of the outfit he founded, ProgressNow was undeniably the driving force behind the project and therefore should take responsibility for dropping the ball, if that is, in fact, what took place. Note that the Colorado wing frequently criticizes politicians -- currently Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who wants to moonlight for his former law firm while in office -- for what it considers to be unethical behavior. But it's difficult to maintain high moral ground if there's an ethical cloud over actions by its parent organization.

When and if we hear from Huttner, PoliPointPress or a representative from ProgressNow national, we'll update this post. In the meantime, here's the original press release, complete with laudatory quotes from supporters as widely varied as the late Senator Edward Kennedy and actress Jessica Alba, as well as a clip of Huttner touting the contest to Fox News' Neil Cavuto. In the video, note that Huttner mentions "prizes," implying that other giveaways will also be forthcoming in addition to the Hawaii trip.

Launch of national Help Obama Change America campaign and book release

Call for ideas and stories on how people can help change America for the better. Grand prize is trip to Hawaii and tour of hospital where President Obama was born.

For Immediate Release

Denver/San Francisco/DC -- With Congress reconvening next week, ProgressNow kicked off the Help Obama Change America campaign by inviting over two million people to help President Obama pass health care reform, enact his other core campaign promises, and move the country forward. This campaign is the first part of the national launch of 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America, the book by ProgressNow Founder & CEO Michael Huttner which just arrived in bookstores across the country.

"The campaign and book are designed to inspire more people to help -- at a time when progressive values are under attack in Washington and across the nation," stated Huttner. "We call on the public to submit their ideas and stories on how people can help change America for the better. The grand prize is a trip to Hawaii for a private tour of the hospital where President Obama was born."

ProgressNow and its state partners, which are hosting the campaign, are emailing the public for entries on how to help President Obama change America, from home, in their community, across the country or even around the world. The public is invited to enter by visiting the new website:

www.50WaysYouCanHelpObama.com

The grand-prize is a trip for two to Honolulu, Hawaii for a private tour of the hospital where President Obama was born, followed by an opportunity to take part in a community service project there on MLK Day of Service, January 18, 2010.

"After working with many people to help President Obama get elected, I've found lots of folks who want to do something more to be helpful, but aren't sure what to do," stated Huttner. "So my co-author and I wrote '50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America.'"

Anyone from the public is welcome to enter by submitting their ideas or stories by September 30. The winners will be announced on November 4, 2009 - one year to the day that Obama gave his memorable victory speech in Chicago.

To buy a copy of "50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America" which debuts across the country this week, people can visit their local bookstores or buy a copy on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Borders.com as well as Indiebound.org which links to independent book stores across the country.

Our proceeds from the sale of this book go entirely to ProgressNow, the nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization.

Praise for 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America:

"In 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America, Michael Huttner and Jason Salzman have given us a practical handbook on how every American can do something for our country. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in making a difference and helping President Obama get our nation back on track."

--The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy

"Paul Simon gave us 50 ways to leave your lover. Huttner and Salzman give us 50 ways to leave your country a better place. A remarkably useful resource."

--Arianna Huffington, Founder and Editor in Chief, The Huffington Post

"The historic election of President Obama marks a new chapter in American history, but it's only the beginning. This book offers every American straightforward ways to help bring real, lasting change."

-­- Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards

"This up-to-date guide for the hands-on activist is a must-have blue-print for every supporter who answered Barack Obama's phrase, 'Fired up,' with 'Ready to go!'"

-- Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Founder, Daily Kos

"Obama is an opportunity, not our solution. He'll succeed in Washington only if we the people get organized, hit the streets, and demand change. This book explains how you can do your part."

-- Ben Cohen, Co-Founder, Ben and Jerry's

"One way to keep America changing and stimulate the economy is advancing the arts...and in this new era of technology, new media, and the new world of how information is shared...a new "art form" needs to be developed...This book provides simple ways to use the arts and other means for making change."

-- Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas

"During his campaign, Obama empowered all of us to take part in initiating change, and it's imperative that we keep the momentum going by involving the next generation. This book is a great resource to encourage young people to embrace their civic responsibilities."

-- Actress Jessica Alba

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Michael Huttner, the early days."

My Voice Nation Help
21 comments
ronald.r1944
ronald.r1944

you should have understood people like HUTTNER dont care about the truth, it was about getting SOROS straw man into the white house. Now he plays 3 card monty with the country.

kb
kb

Here's my entry: Obama should resign and our country can go back to the way it was for 200+ years. Do I win?

Bringiton
Bringiton

To go back 200 years, you mean when there was slavery? Idiot. Get into this century, or at the very least get into the 20th.

Guest
Guest

Michael, why do you report every loony thing that Peter Boils comes up with? The new ratings show that he's among the lowest-rated shows in Denver, and his listeners are idiots who can't think for themselves. What's the point in further spreading his drivel? And now his idiots are posting not-so-veiled threats of violence here.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Guest, the last figures I saw show Peter Boyles's program was at the top of Denver's ratings. Here's our mid-December post about it:

http://blogs.westword.com/late...

I regard this story to be legitimate for the reasons I spell out toward the end of the item. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Robert
Robert

President Obama was born in Hawaii, is therefore native-born, and is constitutionally qualified for the office he holds. No credible evidence to the contrary has been presented, just a variety of unsupported claims. Most of the birthers are right-wing racists who just can't believe we elected a black man President. At the risk of eliciting some more crazy birther cant, on what possible basis do they claim that he isn't a citizen? Is his mother not from Kansas, too, or isn't she really his mother?

CannibalsCookpot
CannibalsCookpot

"President Obama was born in Hawaii," - You can't prove that and BO refuses to." No credible evidence to the contrary has been presented, just a variety of unsupported claims" - Just as there has been no credible evidence to confirm constitutionality."Most of the birthers are right-wing racists who just can't believe we elected a black man President." - It is generally not a good idea to generalize a group of people,i.e. All Democrats are godless, communist, asexual twits. Black? Really? - "Is his mother not from Kansas, too, or isn't she really his mother?"- She is really his mother. She was also really white. "At the risk of eliciting some more crazy birther cant, on what possible basis do they claim that he isn't a citizen?" - You clearly do not understand the constitutional requirements or choose to ignore them.

Robert
Robert

Look back to the first, irrelevant comment from "AK" -- he did not say that the President was not born in the United States; he claims that the President "is an ILLEGAL ALIEN". Since the President's mother is a citizen, the President is a citizen by right of blood.

Since the President was born in Hawaii, he is a citizen by right of soil as well.

Jtv
Jtv

No Birther here, just a skeptic.Hey Robert, nice rant!Is that the best you can do?Robert writes, "No credible evidence has been presented"..........Could that be because everything that has Obama's named attached to it has been sealed. Why????Buckle up Robert, you're heading for a bumpy ride.

sporobolus
sporobolus

forget this Obama stuff, it is definitely junior grade conspiracy stuff

i'd much rather get into chemtrails, after all Michael Roberts mentioned clouds ... srsly

CannibalsCookpot
CannibalsCookpot

"Boyles is a leading voice in the so-called birther movement, which questions the authenticity of documents establishing Obama as a U.S. native."

Thus far there has been very little documentation and what has been provided has been proven to be either fraudulant or complete fabrication.

sporobolus
sporobolus

this seems like a case of the ethical high cirrus versus the ethical cumulonimbus; chemtrails anyone?

CannibalsCookpot
CannibalsCookpot

so that would mean Soreto is?????????? Oh, I know, Santa Anna! Let me make sure I have this right, Barrack Hussein Mohhamed Santa Anna Obama Soreto Obama. I know I don't know this guy, do you?

A-K Dan
A-K Dan

Barry Soetoro/Obama is an ILLEGAL ALIEN & must be arrested & DEPORTED NOW !!!

Robert
Robert

Loon!

CannibalsCookpot
CannibalsCookpot

There was no reply button on your MR post. This reply is to Michael Roberts, whom I assume is also Robert. I really hate to interject but, WTF are you smokin'? A-K Dan replied to the post from "Robert". Well anyways, thanks for letting me know who you are. Upon introduction you will know me by the punch to your nose! Damned I hate lefties!

CannibalsCookpot
CannibalsCookpot

Thank you WB. I thought MR was ghost posting his own blog. MR is safe for now, Robert, not so much.

William Breathes
William Breathes

you assume wrong. Michael Roberts is the author of this blog. Robert is Robert Chase, a prominent medical marijuana advocate.

A-K Dan
A-K Dan

Hey Douchebag Robert,

Do you call Peter Boyles & the Millions who KNOW your Kenyan POS is a FRAUD - LOONS too ???

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Daniel, my last name is Roberts -- but you were awfully close. Thanks for posting.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...