Politico has an article about the rise of what they call “scam PACs,” which I’ve been writing about for a while now too. These are PACs that take in large amounts of money, spend very little of it on their ostensible purpose and pay out lots of money in contracts (usually “consulting fees”) to those who organized the PACs.
The efforts bear some of the hallmarks of a phenomenon that watchdogs say is threatening the integrity of the campaign funding system, and that conservative leaders worry could seriously undermine their interests headed into 2016. Since the tea party burst onto the political landscape in 2009, the conservative movement has been plagued by an explosion of PACs that critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them. Combining sophisticated targeting techniques with fundraising appeals that resonate deeply among grass-roots activists, they collect large piles of small checks that, taken together, add up to enough money to potentially sway a Senate race. But the PACs plow most of their cash back into payments to consulting firms for additional fundraising efforts.
A POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission covering the 2014 cycle found that 33 PACs that court small donors with tea party-oriented email and direct-mail appeals raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses, including $6 million to firms owned or managed by the operatives who run the PACs. POLITICO’s list is not all-inclusive, and some conservatives fret that it’s almost impossible to identify all the groups that are out there, let alone to rein them in.
“These groups have the pulse of the crowd, and they recognize that they can make a profit off the angst of the conservative base voters who are looking for outsiders,” said the influential conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who has taken it upon himself to call out PAC operators and fundraisers he sees as scams. They are “completely a drain,” said Erickson, whose assessments of candidates and groups carry particular weight among tea party activists and the Republicans who court them. “The conservative activists feel like they’ve contributed to a cause greater than themselves, but the money goes to the consultants, and eventually the activists get burned out and stop giving money, including to the legitimate causes.”…
A couple of days after receiving the anti-Bush email from the Conservative Action Fund, Erickson took to his Red State blog to lament the trend. “It is a terrible blight on the conservative movement and on the tea party in particular that the hucksters have come up to cash in,” he wrote. “From the groups claiming to represent Ben Carson to the groups raising money for Allen West to now a group claiming to raise money to ‘Stop Jeb Bush,’ I think more and more older conservatives are getting scammed by con men living well off other people’s money. I doubt very much that much, if any, of the money is going to support these causes.”
How amusing that Erickson is suddenly concerned about conservatives being scammed. This is the guy, after all, who rents his mailing list and lends his endorsement to financial scams. In fact, he has no problem erasing Ann Coulter’s name from a sales pitch and replacing it with his own on behalf of scammers. Here’s his excuse:
Singling out Erickson in particular, Backer pointed out that the pundit’s own email list is routinely rented for fundraising by PACs, including some represented by Backer. (Erickson said he has no control over to whom his email list is rented by the company that owns it, “and it horrifies me that the list sometimes get rented to some of these guys.”)
And why would that be, Erick? Oh right, because you cashed in by selling your blog to Eagle Publishing, which also happens to own the website of the financial scammers. Did you also sell the right to have them use your name in endorsing other products and services? Or are you just full of shit? And either way, how does that make you any different from the people you’re criticizing who are also getting rich by fleecing credulous conservatives?