Wolf Files: 'Kick My Butt, Please'

Strange Exercises in Public Service

By Buck Wolf

July 23, 2002 --  When you're a politician, you learn to take all sorts of abuse. But Mayor Allan Kauffman of Goshen, Ind., is just a little different — he allowed the highest bidder to kick his butt.

Kauffman hung a target on his rear after a Republican critic told one of the mayor's volunteers that she'd happily pay $100 to give the 53-year-old Democrat a "swift kick in the ass."

In an age when people eat live insects on reality TV shows, a little boot to the backside isn't really that strange of a fund-raising proposition.

‘I’ll Bend Over’

Kauffman accepted the challenge. He wrote a letter to the woman, offering to auction off his hind quarters to benefit the local Boys & Girls Club, with the bidding starting at $100.

"I figured at the very least, it would bring some attention to a good cause," said Kauffman.

"And I wasn't worried. I've been in politics long enough to have taken a blow or two in the rear. I'm tough enough. I'll bend over."

Of course, politicians instinctively guard their flanks — and know how to tilt the rules in their favor. The kicker could wear any shoe she wanted, but had to use the side of the foot.

In the end, Kauffman raised $2,000 for the kids. The original critic bowed out of the bidding. A former business partner of Kauffman's ended up as one of the two high bidders when the auction was held several weeks ago. He gave the mayor a tender boot, letting him off easy.The other winner, a woman, let him off the hook with just a hug.

"Of course," Kauffman said, "It could have gone differently."

Eat-a-Book Literacy

Perhaps there's some inspiration in Kauffman's stunt. In these troubled economic times, The Wolf Files salutes folks in public service who are taking the embarrass-yourself, reality-TV path to raise awareness of important issues.

In Colorado, Jodi Jill, a 31-year-old author, recently started one of the strangest literacy campaigns ever. In an Internet campaign, she's making this promise: If 50,000 people pledge to read a book, she'll eat an entire paperback novel in public — one page at a time.