Hoping to sway U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to cast her vote against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, a New York tech executive decided to take an unusual approach.

Eric Lazarus put an employment advertisement on Craigslist calling for Maine leftists, liberals and progressives to contact him about a part-time gig “sitting in front of your own computer, without attending any boring meetings.”

It promised good pay and the chance to be “meaningfully involved in a cause you care about.”

One of those who responded, Erik Christensen, who lives north of Portland, didn’t have any interest in advancing a left-wing agenda. He didn’t even want the money. What he wanted, he said Monday, was to find out why somebody was seeking to hire activists in Maine.

In the midst of a multi-million dollar campaign with groups on both sides pushing their agenda on Brett Kavanaugh’s possible appointment to an open seat on the nine-member court, the online classified ad in Maine may seem like little more than a blip.

It almost certainly didn’t help convince Collins, who remains undecided as she prepares to meet with Kavanaugh Tuesday.

If nothing else, though, Lazarus’s ad shows yet another way in which new online opportunities may influence public policy and perhaps prod wary politicians to move one way or another on a crucial issue.

Lazarus, 58, who’s been consulting on technology issues for major companies for three decades, said Monday he came up with what he thought was “a clever idea” to lobby Collins on the Supreme Court pick.

“We are working on something very big that requires us to work quickly,” the ad said, urging activists to contact him right away.

Christensen said he had seen a number of Craigslist postings for left-wing activists and wondered what they were all about.

“I decided to go more or less undercover” and respond to the one posted anonymously by Lazarus, he said.

When he wrote back to the cloaked email address contained in the online ad, Christensen said, he heard back from Lazarus within 45 seconds.

“He was right on top of this,” Christensen said.

In a couple of conversations with Lazarus — who admits he  talked to Christensen — the New Yorker told him he would pay $17 or more for tweets directed to Collins to try to convince her to vote against Kavanaugh. He offered to pay even more for letters to the editor of Maine newspapers and for luring others to do the same.

Christensen said that Lazarus emailed him templates he could work from to send “personal” letters to Collins, letters to newspapers and social media posts.

The three-pronged approach that Lazarus suggested, he said, amounted to “really good money” for not much work.

Christensen said that Lazarus informed him that the money-for-posts offer was “his own personal project and his personal crusade.”

He said he spoke with him enough to determine “this guy’s the real deal,” with a long public record in the tech field and in liberal causes such as Occupy Wall Street.

But Christensen had no intention of churning out anything  for the “high-paying leftist activist.”

Instead, he passed along all the information he gathered to some conservative friends who ultimately made sure it reached Collins’ office.

Christensen said he doesn’t know enough about Kavanaugh to have any position on whether the judge ought to be confirmed or not. That’s not what motivated him to take action.

He said he’s simply offended “there are people willing to lie, cheat, steal and do things unethically to get what they want.”

Lazarus said he doesn’t view it that way.

But, he said, it doesn’t matter anyhow.

He has pulled the Craigslist post and dropped the project.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Lazarus said.  “Nobody seems to actually want to do it.”

He said he only had about five conversations with people responding to the ad and none of them led to anything.

“It’s not actually happening,” Lazarus said.

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The advertisement that New York tech consultant Eric Lazarus posted on Craigslist in Maine this month to try to hire activists to write social media posts and letters to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a potential swing vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. It is no longer online.


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