Donald Trump and his family have always been grifters, as should have been obvious to sentient being, and yet he managed to persuade large numbers of conservative voters that he should be president. So it should be no surprise that his presidency is just filled with grifters, from his family members to his cabinet members to other people in the administration. But his conservative base seems to be remaining devoted to him and because of that devotion, seem to be willing to overlook grifting or not even be aware that grifting is going on.
So it should not be surprising that even before Trump, professional grifters have long sensed that conservatives must be easy marks for scams, As Cory Doctorow explains, pointing out this report from ProPublica and Politico, fundraisers used the lax fundraising laws to convince conservatives to donate millions of dollars by creating wild stories about then-president Barack Obama that had no basis in fact but were lapped up by the credulous donors, and then kept most of the money for themselves. It is a detailed report that looks at how donors were targeted and scammed.
After recruiting thousands of donors for the American Conservative Union — the powerful organization behind the annual CPAC conference — a Republican political operative pushed the same contributors to give millions to a PAC that promised to go after then-President Barack Obama, but then steered much of their donations to himself and his partners.
The PAC, called the Conservative Majority Fund, has raised nearly $10 million since mid-2012 and continues to solicit funds to this day, primarily from thousands of steadfast contributors to conservative causes, many of them senior citizens. But it has made just $48,400 in political contributions to candidates and committees. Public records indicate its main beneficiaries are the operative Kelley Rogers, who has a history of disputes over allegedly unethical fundraising, and one of the largest conservative fundraising companies, InfoCision Management Corp., which charged millions of dollars in fundraising fees.
By the end of the summer of 2012, Rogers and InfoCision had broken with the ACU and created a new federal PAC, the Conservative Majority Fund. It began raising money using the New Conservative Coalition donor list and aggressive fundraising tactics, which painted Obama as a shady figure whose real name was “Barry Soetoro” and who “had long-term relationships with terrorists,” according to scripts for calls circulated among people working on the fundraising campaign. Neither claim is accurate. The PAC said it was hiring investigators to press the case that Obama was ineligible to be president.
That message struck gold: $2.8 million poured in from more than 30,000 donors during the five months between July and December of that year alone. To kick off its campaign, the PAC paid $371,000 in August 2012 for a television ad that briefly aired on cable television and urged viewers to call the PAC, where they would be solicited for donations. After August, it ran no television ads and made no expenditures for anything other than fundraising.
Election integrity experts have warned that alleged scam PACs are siphoning tens of millions of dollars in political donations into the coffers of fundraisers each year, while misleading donors.
Lynne Archer, 72, gave the Conservative Majority Fund $3,800 between 2012 and 2018. Archer said she tries to be wary of potential scams, but the Conservative Majority Fund had always sounded “like a legitimate group” when it solicited money.
“Damn, I gave a lot to them,” said Archer, who lives in Sugar Land, Texas, and works for her husband at an automobile dealership. “I don’t like that at all.”
Some of you may remember the brilliant expose Stephen Colbert did on his old show where he showed how easy it was to set up a SuperPAC that could be used to benefit himself personally because of the lax campaign finance regulations that the US Supreme Court allowed as a result of the Citizens United case.
There is an old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted and in this case who the fools are has been clearly revealed.
Well….when the governing class refuses to police itself properly (with good controls on fundraising as well as on spending), grifters will absolutely have a field day at their -- and at people’s -- expense. This is yet another failure of democracy as practiced in USA, but AFAIK, no country has gotten the formula right when it comes to funding of elections.
Matt G says
The only thing remotely surprising here is that conservatives are scamming other conservatives. They don’t even honor “honor among thieves”.
Rob Grigjanis says
MattG: These scammers are no more conservative than the religious scammers are Christian. They’re opportunistic sociopaths. Before he ran for President, Trump was supposedly for gun control, and supposedly thought well of Clinton. Positions and principles can be worn and discarded like socks by these scum.
And of course, there’s a fair bit of overlap between the political and religious folk being fleeced.
Am I awful for not feeling sorry for the people who got scammed? I’d rather these political grifters take the money for themselves than use it for what they said they were going to do.
Yes, this should be against the law, but when the people you keep voting for install a Court that says any laws that would protect you are unconstitutional, well, you got what you voted for. And it’s only going to get worse.
Conservative Majority, lol. They wish.
Marcus Ranum says
It occurs to me that troll-scamming conservatives would make them less likely to give to conservative causes.
“National Rifle Association? No we’re the National Raffle Association!”
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
This. To the nth power.
Jenora Feuer says
Affinity scams are a thing: people are more likely to donate to those they feel are ‘like them’. (Which is part of the reason Utah has one of the highest concentrations of scams in the U.S.)
And, really, the entire electoral strategy for the conservative side for generations has been ‘make them scared enough to vote for us, and stupid enough to not realize that we have no intentions on actually following through because then they’d have no reason to vote for us’. Which, of course, led to things like the Tea Party, where the folks that had been brought up that way finally got upset at the ‘not following through’ part and ran for office themselves. The inmates are very much running the asylum.