The Tenth Amendment Center turns eight today.

I was a relative latecomer to the party. I joined the organization about four years ago. I had not idea what I was getting into.

The Tenth Amendment Center has become more than just a job. It has become a part of my life, and Micheal Boldin isn’t just a guy I work for; he’s become a close personal friend.

Sometimes I stop, look back and marvel at what this little organization has accomplished. As Boldin pointed out in his anniversary column, the TAC was cited yesterday in support of a bill to end state cooperation with the NSA in a California Assembly committee hearing. I’ve seen our efforts spring stalled bills from committees. We’ve been cited by media outlets not just here in the United States, but around the world. I’ve even seen a couple of my articles translated into German. I’ve had the opportunity to take apart “experts” from the Heritage foundation and the Cato institute. And I’ve been asked to work with state legislators all across the country as they work to stop unconstitutional federal overreach.

When I started with the Tenth Amendment Center, I remember concentrating efforts on passing non-binding Tenth Amendment resolutions in state legislatures. At first, the media ignored our efforts. Then it ridiculed our efforts. Today, it treats us as a legitimate player on the political playground. Last year, nearly every state legislature in the U.S. considered some form of nullification legislation. I’m not wading into the realm of hyperbole when I say the Tenth Amendment Center was integral in turning the nullification movement into a legitimate political force.

But as Boldin said, working as an activist isn’t easy.

Our anniversary happens to coincide with our major fundraising push. I hate it. Boldin hates it. We don’t like begging for money. We just want to just do our work. But, the reality is dollars make the work possible. So, along those lines, I want to share some personal thoughts.

I think a lot of people probably look at our website, see the vast amount of quality content we produce on a weekly basis, read about all of the campaigns we involve ourselves in and assume the TAC is a large well-funded organization.

It’s not.

Our budget last year was under $100,000. To put that in perspective, the Heritage Foundation operates on a $80 million annual budget. We have one full-time employee – Michael Boldin. He pays himself $24,000 per year. Although I regularly put in 40 hours or more per week, I am technically part time. I make $700 per month and hold down a 25 hour per week part time job to make ends meet. We have two other part timers who put in long hours and make less than me. That’s it. That’s the TAC team. Beyond that, we depend on dedicated volunteers.

The truth of the matter is that in the last year, the TAC’s growth and influence has outstripped its resources.

My day starts at 3:45 a.m. every weekday morning. I work five hours at my part time job and head home at 9:30 a.m. to start on what I consider my “real” job. Sometimes I take a nap. During legislative session, I usually don’t. I almost always work some on weekends. I’m tired. At some point, this will have to end. There will come a day when I won’t be able to maintain this pace, and that weighs on me. I do not want to step away from this work that I’ve put so much of myself into. But the reality is that if the TAC doesn’t eventually get over the hump and begin drawing a more significant and consistent donor base allowing me to do this full-time, I will one day have to step away.

I’m not sharing this to complain. I chose it. And most of the time, I love it. There is nothing else I would rather be doing than fighting unconstitutional federal actions. Obviously, this is not just a job to me. I believe in what the TAC is doing. If I didn’t, I would have moved on long ago.

The same is true for Michael Boldin. I’ve never met a harder working more dedicated man. This is his love. It’s his life. I will also say this while I’m on the subject of the TAC founder and executive director – I’ve never met a man with more integrity. I see it on a daily basis. It inspires me and makes me proud to be associated with him.

I struggle to find the fine line between letting people know the behind the scenes realities and sounding like a whiner begging for money. I know my friend Michael Boldin does too. Maybe we don’t always walk that line with the most grace. Heck, neither one of us are fundraisers, and we don’t want to be. It’s the ugly part of this job.

So, if you can help us, please do.

I just want you to know how much work and dedication this takes. We do it because we believe in the cause.

We appreciate everybody who helps. We appreciate those who would like to but can’t. Thank you for being a part of this important effort for liberty!

 

Mike Maharrey