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Aug. 31, 1999

Now there's a political action group for aliens

By Erin Kelly
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - E.T., phone your lobbyist.

Just when it seems like everyone on Earth has their own political action committee, along comes a PAC representing extraterrestrials - or at least the human beings who believe in them.

Its called X-PPAC - short for Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee - and it has raised about $1,000 since its creation in mid-July.

The PAC's founder said the money would be used to lobby lawmakers to have congressional hearings on whether federal bureaucrats have covered up evidence of UFOs and alien activity.

"In Washington, no one takes your issue seriously unless you have a lobbyist, a PAC and press clippings," says Stephen G. Bassett, treasurer of X-PPAC and the only federally registered UFO lobbyist in America. "My job is to make sure we have all those things."

Bassett, a former business consultant, hopes these trappings will help convince members of Congress that "it's time to stop treating this thing like it's the crazy aunt in the attic."

It's not a bad strategy, says Paul Hendrie, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit group that studies the influence of special interests on Congress.

"If they have money to give, I'm sure they'll find takers for it," Hendrie said, laughing. "Political candidates will take money from just about anyone."

Bassett hopes the money will gain him a greater audience in Congress.

In three and one-half years lobbying for the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in Asheville, N.C.; Operation Right to Know in Gaithersburg, Md.; Enterprise Mission in Albuquerque, N.M.; Skywatch International in Leander, Texas; and Stargate International in Tucson, Ariz.; Bassett has met with only three members of Congress. He won't name them.

"They say, 'We'll meet with you, but I don't want it in the press the next day or I won't meet with you again,"' Bassett said. "It's a verboten subject. They're so afraid of the ridicule."

Congressional aides can't resist making jokes when asked how their bosses might respond to lobbying efforts by Bassett and X-PPAC.

"I think the first thing we would want to know is how many aliens has he got registered to vote here in the 7th District of Missouri," joked Dan Wadlington, spokesman for Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. "If he's got 100,000 votes, we'd certainly take that seriously."

But Bassett said he'll have the last laugh. He is about to make a series of appearances on talk radio stations around the country and is confident listeners will send contributions to X-PPAC, which already has its own Internet Web site.

Hendrie cautions the PAC to beware of campaign finance laws.

"They better be careful to abide by the ban on foreign contributions," he said. "If they start taking contributions from aliens, that's not legal. We'll be watching the addresses of their donors carefully."

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