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Jul 23 2013

Erickson Pushes Same Financial Scam Coulter Did

You may recall last year that Rick Perlstein signed up for the mailing lists of a bunch of right wing websites and immediately began to be inundated with emails full of fantastic and ridiculous get-rich-quick schemes. Erick Erickson, owner of RedState, provides a perfect example of how to use your mailing list to shill for con artists — just like Ann Coulter did with nearly identical language a few years ago:

Erickson emailed subscribers to his RedState.com email list this week claiming he’s found the “best investment advice I know of, bar none,” in the financial newsletter of analyst Mark Skousen. Yet 12 paragraphs of Erickson’s signed endorsement are virtually identical to language used by Ann Coulter in emails nearly four years ago.

Erickson’s email — titled, “How to Retire in Comfort Even If You DON’T Work in Government” — attacks public-sector workers for purportedly living in luxury with President Barack Obama in office. He then endorsed Skousen’s newsletter, which purports to reveal a “secret” system to becoming “instant millionaires.” Erickson claimed that Skousen “knows how to make you money,” and the “best investment advice I know of, bar none, can be found in Mark Skousen’s Forecasts & Strategies — and I urge you to give it a try.”

While Erickson’s and Coulter’s emails contain different openings — Erickson mocks public sector employees, Coulter criticizes liberals — the two converge when it comes to pitching Skousen’s financial newsletter.

You can see the two emails side by side here. The relevant portions are pretty much verbatim. This is marketing copy. And the company behind that email was the same one behind most of those scam emails that Perlstein received:

Both Erickson’s and Coulter’s emails were sent through Eagle Publishing’s The Human Events Group, which represents the email lists of both conservative commentators. The company lists a rate of $6,250 for renting RedState’s list, though it’s not clear if an Erickson-penned endorsement bumps the cost. Skousen’s website, like RedState, is owned by Eagle Publishing.

Politico reported in June 2011 that Eagle Publishing was selling Erickson’s endorsement “as part of an advertising package, according to an email circulated by an account executive.” A Eagle executive said the email was intended for “a handful of [conservative] organizations that have expressed an interest and that Erick feels strongly about.” Erickson responded on his website by claiming “my endorsements are not for sale. I don’t know who the guy is who sent the email, but he certainly did RedState no favors.” Media Matters reported at the time that Eagle was also selling the “unprecedented opportunity” to sponsor the newsletter of Newt Gingrich, who was running for president at the time.

In related news, grifters grift.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    These have a name.

    Affinity group scams.

    You would have a hard time finding a fundie xian leader who isn’t an affinity group scammer. It’s easy money and making a quick $100 million (Glenn Beck) or $ billion (Robertson) is possible.

    The latest trend seems to be stock market prosperity gospel pitches.

    Why not, the Dow has hit record highs and has doubled since the Great Recession. Ironically, thanks in part to the Kenyan Moslem terrorist who we elected and they hate, Obama.

  2. 2
    Modusoperandi

    raven “Why not, the Dow has hit record highs and has doubled since the Great Recession. Ironically, thanks in part to the Kenyan Moslem terrorist who we elected and they hate, Obama.”
    It did that in spite of Obama Hussein Obama and his Socialist policies and Sky High Taxes.
    And, anyway, it’s not Trickling Down, even though it’s supposed to, so clearly Obama Hussein Obama and his Socialist policies and Sky High Taxes are to blame for that, too. From what I can tell, Obama Hussein Obama and his Socialist policies and Sky High Taxes are all being Redistributed down to the Moochers, the 47%, Occupy Wall Street, the “Working” Poor, PBS, and other UnDeserving Groups.

  3. 3
    DaveL

    So what’s the skinny on Skousen’s investment advice?

  4. 4
    raven

    So what’s the skinny on Skousen’s investment advice?

    Who knows?

    Probably it starts with sending him money. And praying a lot.

    Skousen is, if IIRC, a Mormon and part of a large clan of right wingnuts who are involved with the John Birch society.

  5. 5
    raven

    Godonomics: Glenn Beck talks with Chad Hovind – You Tube
    ► 3:22► 3:22
    www. youtube.c om/watch?v= eazRzUl__q4‎

    Apr 16, 2010 – Uploaded by Chad Hovind
    Glenn Beck talks to Chad Hovind about the Biblical basis for capitalism and the 6 session 2 DVD Godonomics …

    A lot of familiar fundie xian scammers are jumping on the prosperity gospel boat.

    Glenn Beck of course. Another one is Chad Hovind, who most will recognize as one of a federal prisoner’s kids.

    IIRC, he wants a few hundred bucks for his DVD’s on How To Get Rich Quick with $-godonomics.

    Someone else can check this out if they want to. I’m not wasting my time on anything to do with the Hovinds.

  6. 6
    Abby Normal

    Some of the regular readers may know that after high school I spent some time living on the streets. I made money in a number of questionable ways, including short cons. When I started to go legit in the early 90’s I got a job as a telemarketer (baby steps). At that time everything was being done on paper. The company didn’t even have a computer. I convinced the owner that I could help modernize his business. It took a couple years, but I eventually computerized the entire operation, inventory, payroll, sales, marketing, everything. Then one day the owner asked me to write a program to, “automatically send mass emails to people,” from the contact lists he purchased. I refused. It was too scummy, even for me. I would not be a spammer. So if you wanted to say Erick Erickson is less ethical than a con artist, you’d technically be accurate.

  7. 7
    DaveL

    @4, Well, in the interest of being scrupulously fair, it’s possible that Erickson and Coulter are simply selling overhyped ads with paid endorsements for an otherwise legitimate investment and financial firm or publication.

    Yeah, I don’t believe it either, but before I deride Skousen’s newsletters as a “scam”, I’d like to see some material on the product itself. So, I decided to have a look at Skousen’s web site myself.

    Of course, any actual details are behind a paywall. He claims:

    In fact, if you had made every stock and option trade I recommended over the past seven years, and reinvested the profits, you could have seen average annual profits of 172.1%.

    But of course he doesn’t list what trades those were that he recommended. And of course nearly tripling your money every year is a patently absurd expectation, and no reputable financial advisor would make such claims.

    There’s little else about his investment philosophy or strategy available – just a lot of outlandish promises about instant riches.

    Here’s another red flag:

    Forecasts & Strategies uses a high-gain, low-risk way to reach your investment goals, with over a 30-year track record of success!

    So yes, at this point I’d feel comfortable in calling this a scam. It probably isn’t really an affinity scam, because I doubt he actually takes clients’ money to invest himself. He knows he’d end up in jail pretty quickly if he did that. Instead he sells “advice” based on grossly inflated promises.

  8. 8
    magistramarla

    It just pisses me off to see them making public employees into scapegoats.
    When I was growing up, it was a respected decision to pass up the big bucks that one could make in the private sector to serve our fellow citizens.

    I was a teacher, and when I was in college that was a highly respected choice as a career. No, I didn’t make much money, but I felt extremely satisfied with teaching and influencing young people. Even though I’m now disabled, I wasn’t able to have a comfortable retirement, thanks to Texas.
    I paid into SS when I taught in other states. My district in Texas opted out of paying into SS and forced me to pay into the Texas teacher’s retirement system. In 2008, that fund lost a third of my money, so when I rolled it over into a private account, it really wasn’t that much.

    My husband was an active duty officer, but his dreams of a retirement after 20 years was gone in the cutbacks in ’92. He switched to being a federal worker to keep doing his job, even though he could have made much more as an engineer in the private sector. We felt that the steady income and benefits were better for our family than the high income and volatility elsewhere.
    Now, after over 30 years of public service, we have to deal with furlough days, less income and we feel insecure about that promised retirement which was supposed to be only a few years away for us.

    I feel that instead of using public employees as scapegoats and trying to take away what we have worked hard for, people should be complaining that the middle class has been dragged down from having the secure jobs that the public workers have managed to keep. If lawmakers had any courage, they would be trying to help those in the middle class to make those gains, not dragging down those of us who have served others.

  9. 9
    Modusoperandi

    magistramarla, I put on my rightwing glasses and read your comment. It read “I’m a big lazy moocher. Give me money. Gimme gimme gimme”. True story.

  10. 10
    Area Man

    Skousen is apparently a right-wing Austrian/libertarian type, which is to say that he’s an ideologue who pretends to be a financial guru. These guys have spent the last several years misdiagnosing the economy and predicting run-away inflation, and those who actually bet on their predictions, like Peter Schiff, have cost their investors zillions of dollars (while taking their own cut, of course).

    Amusingly, his website repeatedly touts his “secret” investment opportunity, which never gets explained, as being something only available to the ultra-wealthy (until now!). This is a staple pitch of financial scams. But if true, it would portend a massive market failure. We have a libertarian telling us that the free market doesn’t work, that what we really live in is a cronyist network in which the rich collude to lock the rest of us out. Good to know.

  11. 11
    raven

    Cleon Skousen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Cleon_Skousen‎

    A notable anti-communist and supporter of the John Birch Society, Skousen’s works involved a wide range of subjects including the Six-Day War, Mormon …

    and

    Daily Kos: How Mormon Leaders Built the John Birch Society
    www .dailykos .com/…/-How-Mormon-Leaders-Built-the-John-Birch-Soci…‎

    Oct 28, 2012 – The John Birch Society’s entire structure is modeled on the Mormon Church. … Skousen was a Mormon and had a huge influence on the JBS.

    Cleon Skousen was a John Bircher and a Mormon.

    I’m not sure (or much care) how Mark Skousen is related to him.

    A Mormon John Bircher giving inventment advice. What could go wrong? After all, we do have our social safety net. Hmmm, well we did until they shredded it.

    PS I had to look it up. FFS, Cleon is Mark’s uncle and second father!!!

    A Tribute to my uncle, W. Cleon Skousen – MSkousen.com
    www. mskousen.com/ 2003/01/tribute-to-my-uncle-w-cleon-skousen/‎

    (Genesis 6:4) My uncle, W. Cleon Skousen, turned 90 years old on January 20. … by Mark Skousen on January 28, 2003 … Uncle Cleon became a dad to me when my own father, Leroy B. Skousen, passed away at the

  12. 12
    Donnie

    Magistrama: I feel the same way. I forwent (is that a word?) 50%, at least, more salary, plus 4-digit bonus, with no health care contributions, and better employer 401(k) contributions in order not travel, work 7-day, 12-16 hours days, and be with my new wife.

    Now, compared to someone who has a bachelor’s degree, or less, I make good money. But, I also have two (2) advanced degrees with a unique skill set. I also pay $200 bi weekly in health care, haven’t had a raise in over, wait, 3 or 4 years except an within grade. No advancement.

    But I do not regret the decision…I enjoy my personal time more than making obsence amounts of money. I guess that makes me lazy, eh?

  13. 13
    kermit.

    Folks that right wing, low information voters in the US think make big bucks:
    Climatologists.
    Evolutionary biologists.
    Government bureaucrats.
    School teachers.
    .
    Those folks are grifters living off our hard-earned money, but CEOs like Romney and the Koch brothers got a hundred times richer than us by working a hundred times harder. Sigh.

  14. 14
    John Hinkle

    MO@9: Genuine LOL.

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