6/28 Flashback: They get paid twice

6/28 Flashback: They get paid twice June 28, 2022

From June 28, 2017, “The Scary Story racket is a two-part grift“:

… It’s your basic Scary Story racket — a time-honored way of getting very rich for anyone who is both: A) thoroughly unscrupulous; and B) rooted in a fearfully credulous subculture eager to hand over its money to anyone willing to protect them from imaginary monsters. All you need to get started in this business is a mailing list with a few thousand good leads, enough initial capital to pay for postage and letterhead, and the imagination to exaggerate, invent, and amplify an endless cycle of bogeymen that only you can stop from destroying America. Thanks to Pat Robertson, ACLJ had all of that, and Sekulow proved to be very, very good at it.

What has the ACLJ actually done over the past almost-30 years? Not much. They’ve managed to get their name in the paper a few times, but the organization’s actual legal accomplishments are pretty thin.

They would argue otherwise. After all, the black president’s jackbooted secret police never did show up to padlock churches and cart real, true Christian pastors away to prison, right? So clearly the ACLJ has protected its supported from the very menace they long warned them about.

In any case, actual accomplishments are never the main point of a Scary Story direct-mail fundraising organization. The main point is making sure that the mailing list of supporters stays scared enough to keep writing those checks. That’s where Sekulow and the ACLJ have really excelled. The Scary Story industry has made Jay Sekulow a very rich man.

… The Guardian has posted the telemarketing scripts used by Case fundraisers, outlining strategies for squeezing whatever they could get from people on fixed incomes, or from the unemployed and the sick, or from those who would prefer to direct their charitable giving to their local church. It’s really, really gross.

The key thing to remember here is that this is only one way the Scary Story industry exploits their supporters. It’s not just about inducing some frightened old church lady into giving $20 a month that she doesn’t have. It’s also about raising her taxes and cutting funding for anything she relies on so that Sekulow himself won’t have to pay as much in taxes for that private jet, or for all three of his houses.

The direct-mail transactions are only half the game. And that half of the game isn’t half of the money. The really big money is on the other end — the consequence of the political climate created and supported by the army of terrified supporters shaped by a yearslong steady diet of Scary Stories.

They’ll vote for politicians who want to repeal the estate tax. They’ll vote for politicians who want to reduce the capital gains tax. They’ll vote for politicians who want to gut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, consumer protection, and organized labor. They’ll vote for politicians whose entire agenda is transferring wealth upwards, deregulating every form of rent-seeking, and appointing robber-baron friendly judges who can be relied on to ensure that anyone who opposes such an agenda won’t be allowed to vote.

That’s where the real money comes in. Sure, Jay Sekulow has reaped some $60 million for himself and his family just by cashing all those checks from terrified little old church ladies. But the real payoff — the big payoff — is still being arranged. That comes once people like him cement their control of all three branches of government, ensuring that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell can pass their wish-list of laws, President Trump can sign them, and Not-Garland & Co. can retro-engineer some excuse for calling them constitutional.


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