There are scammers out there willing to take advantage of almost anything. After the 9/11 attacks there were a number of fake charities that sprung up to collect donations for victims that were nothing but a flat out scam. The same has happened with bogus charity groups that have materialized after cops have been killed. Many times you see people at intersections with cans, collecting for what appears to be some helpful charity when often it is just a ruse. The groups are chased off and just show up somewhere else. They are always out there.
It happens in politics as well. The worst part is, in politics, almost all of the scamming is 100% legal.
As much as Citizens United was a victory for free speech, it does not come without risk. And people have figured out how to utilize SuperPacs (aka independent expenditure-only committees) to their advantage.
It is very easy to start a SuperPac. It takes minutes to fill out the federal forms and a few more minutes to obtain a federal tax ID from the IRS both of which can be done online. It can take some more time to open a bank account and register within state you’ll operate from but overall, it is not a difficult process to get started. Then quarterly reports and financial disclosure forms need to be filed and that too can be done electronically.
SuperPac’s have their place in our elections. I support their use particularly against wealthy self financed candidates. But they are also used as a tool for getting money from people that will never be used to help elect a candidate or worse, pretend the money will be used for something that will not happen.
The NY Times wrote about this several days ago:
Conservative outlets like Breitbart or The Washington Examiner are given “exclusive” advance notice of a new effort, like the “Remove Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)” campaign started early last year by the Tea Party Leadership Fund.
Consultants hired by the Tea Party Leadership Fund, using rented lists of known conservative voters, then follow up with thousands of phone calls or emails urging voters to “sign this one-click petition.”
“By collecting one million petition signatures, we will show Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the liberal media and every other congressional sellout that the Tea Party is serious about returning America to greatness,” said one anti-Boehner appeal from last year.
A Tea Party Leadership Fund electronic petition this year, labeled “Boot Boehner,” urged conservative voters to “oust the sellout Republican Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) from his powerful position as speaker of the House.”
But in both cases, anyone filling out the petition — with their name, email address and ZIP code — was redirected to a new web page notifying the voter that “your signature has been recorded,” followed by a request for a donation.
Recently, emails going out urging that people “draft” Trey Gowdy for Speaker of The House have been going out:
The petition-based campaigns have also sought to raise money by celebrating Republicans like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of South Carolina, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who has been promoted as a candidate for speaker by one of Mr. Backer’s groups.
The emails sent to voters make no mention of Mr. Backer. Instead, they are sent by high-profile conservatives like Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist from Texas who ran for Congress last year and who was paid $30,000 in the first six months of the year to serve as the group’s spokeswoman, records show.
“Grass-roots conservatives across America are getting behind Trey Gowdy by the bus loads,” said one email sent out in Ms. Pierson’s name by the Tea Party Leadership Fund in early October. The appeal urged voters to join the group’s petition, but it included only links to web pages where donations were solicited. “I need you to drop everything and help me send a loud and clear message,” the email said.
Ms. Pierson defended her work, saying, “The only reason this PAC draws attention is that it is anti-establishment.”
Her “work.” She’s been paid $30,000 through the first six months of this year to have her name attached to these emails and and she goes on television to shill for Donald Trump and that’s about it. Gowdy has said publicly he was not going to run for Speaker and never intended to. Furthermore, Gowdy is not happy with his name being used in these emails:
“These outside groups use members’ names, not just his, without their knowledge and mislead people to think they support or are connected to a group when they are not,” Amanda Duvall, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gowdy, said after being shown the “Draft Trey Gowdy” emails sent by the Tea Party Leadership Fund under Ms. Pierson’s name.
Do you think that has stopped them? Here is a screenshot of an email sent out today asking for donations to…..draft Trey Gowdy for Speaker of the House. (Click for full size version)
People want to donate money to causes they believe in.
I would say it is fair that some conservatives don’t want to donate their money to the Republican National Committee, NRCC or the NRSC. They feel their money would be better spent elsewhere and there are plenty of alternatives outside of major party organizations to do it. People have the best of intentions and the problem is there are people around willing to take advantage of that.
The Tea Party Leadership Fund is one of them:
“Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness,” the Tea Party Leadership Fund website said, although it gave no indication of how donations would be spent.
The answer can be found in campaign finance records, which show that of the $6.7 million the Tea Party Leadership Fund has raised since 2013, only about $910,000 has been spent on conservative Republican candidates it supports — either in direct contributions or independent expenditures on the candidates’ behalf — as an alternative to Mr. Boehner and his supporters.
Almost all of the rest of the money it has raised since 2013 has been spent on consulting firms involved in helping collect the donations.
One of them, Strategic Fundraising of St. Paul, has been paid $2.3 million by the Tea Party Leadership Fund since 2013 to follow up the appeals with phone calls soliciting contributions.
It is all about raising money……for the sake of raising more money. The worst part is what they’re doing is perfectly legal. Which makes it all that much more cowardly. In the movie ‘Family Business’ with Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick, there is a scene where Connery’s character, Jessie McMullen is teeing off on somebody for using a terminal cancer patient list to buy co-op apartments at insider prices in Manhattan.
He says, “When you rip somebody off, legally, without risk or without sticking your neck out….that’s immoral.”
I cannot come up with a better word to describe these groups that go out and legally rip people off by asking them for money to do something they have no intention of doing.