Afterward, I spoke to a young female delegate who said she planned to vote for Romney in the poll. I asked her how she had ended up at the conference.
She said "Evangelicals for Mitt" had contacted her and offered to pay for her to have a limited-access ticket -- so long as she agreed to vote for Romney in the straw poll.
Asked how "Evangelicals for Mitt" got her name, she said she didn't know. But she said that she was on the e-mail list for Romney, and speculated that the Romney team had given out their e-mail list.
"Evangelicals for Mitt" co-founder David French said in an interview yesterday that his group is not coordinating with the Romney team, though he noted that his wife had worked with the Romney campaign in the past.
UPDATE: Politico's Ben Smith reports that a conference organizer told him that "Evangelicals for Mitt" and Ron Paul's "Campaign for Liberty" bought blocks of tickets to the conference, which can then be given to supporters who cast ballots in the straw poll. Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom denied to Smith the Romney e-mail list had been released to "Evangelicals for Mitt."
Meanwhile, a commenter at a Web site for Paul supporters posted what the commenter claims is an e-mail from "Evangelicals for Mitt" to Romney supporters offering free tickets to the event. They normally go for $119.
"I'm writing because the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is the kick-off of the 2012 Presidential election, in New Orleans in April," it says. "'Evangelicals for Mitt' is trying to get people there who would vote for Gov. Romney in a straw poll there."
"In addition to voting in the straw poll, we'll provide tickets that will enable
you to get into all of the speakers if there's room," the e-mail continues. "Also, you'll have access to
all of the break-out sessions, and a large Friday night party called The Taste
of Louisiana. We'll also have free autographed copies of Gov. Romney's book 'No
Apologies' and tee shirts there, and there will also be plenty of great food!"
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