GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Zamfir, Hawknc, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
sardia
Posts: 5857
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:39 am UTC

GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby sardia » Sun Aug 14, 2016 6:42 pm UTC

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/ ... ath-214164
Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support “conservative” candidates—while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them.
By Paul H. Jossey
A small group of supposedly conservative lawyers and consultants saw something different: dollar signs. The PACs found anger at the Republican Party sells very well. The campaigns they ran would be headlined “Boot John Boehner," or “Drop a Truth Bomb on Kevin McCarthy.” And after Boehner was in fact booted and McCarthy bombed in his bid to succeed him, it was naturally time to “Fire Paul Ryan." The selling is always urgent: “Stop what you’re doing” “This can’t wait.” One active solicitor is the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which received $6.7 million from 2013 to mid-2015, overwhelmingly from small donors. A typical solicitation from the TPLF read: “Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness.” But, according to an investigation by POLITICO, 87 percent of that “investment” went to overhead; only $910,000 of the $6.7 million raised was used to support political candidates. If the prospect signs a “petition,” typically a solicitation of his or her personal information is recorded and a new screen immediately appears asking for money. Vendors pass the information around in “list swaps” and “revenue shares” ad infinitum.

Common Scams:
1. Prospects whose name appear on a vendor’s list get a phone call, email or glossy mailer from a group they’ve likely never heard of asking them for money.
2. Another favorite tactic is the “Draft Committee.” Pick a popular figure then start a committee to “draft” him or her to run for office. TPLF “drafted” Sarah Palin for Senate in Alaska and Backer “drafted” Newt Gingrich for Senate in Virginia. After I left his firm, Backer “drafted” new Texas resident Allen West for Senate in Florida. None of these candidates were remotely interested or associated with the effort, and in fact could not be by law. But there were signatures to collect and donations to request.
3. Groups intentionally back candidates that can’t win to assure fundraising flow. Some may genuinely believe they help (others obviously know they don’t). But it’s no secret that the day after Mitt Romney’s defeat was a huge fundraising day in the conservative world. And electoral success would undoubtedly affect business. PACs exploited a reservoir of goodwill toward minority candidates in particular to raise money for themselves. After his razor-thin 2012 congressional defeat, Allen West, an African-American former Florida congressman, filed a complaint with the FEC against PACs raising money off his race but doing nothing to help him. The FEC concluded it lacked authority to police such efforts.

I'm pretty sure both sides have this problem, where rich lawyers fleece the fears of donors. The solutions are simple, just donate as if citizen's united never existed, aka directly to the candidate. Or better yet, volunteer your time, much more valuable than money.*

* Why don't rich people just spend their money hiring people to work on a campaign instead of donating?

User avatar
PeteP
What the peck?
Posts: 1451
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:51 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby PeteP » Sun Aug 14, 2016 6:51 pm UTC

87% overhead? Are there any laws against asking for donations and using most of the money for "overhead"?

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:47 pm UTC

Rich people who are really concerned start their own PAC. As in the Koch brothers.

User avatar
sardia
Posts: 5857
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:39 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby sardia » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:22 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Rich people who are really concerned start their own PAC. As in the Koch brothers.

For the ultra rich, yea, but these scamPacs are targeted at small donors. Notice the sums spent on overhead? It's in the millions tops.

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5652
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Diadem » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:20 am UTC

Is this legal?

Aren't PACs counted as non-profit charities? What's the technical term in English. NGO? Anyway, aren't there rules about what those sort of clubs can do? Presumably I can't start a charity, collect lots of donations, and then give myself all the moneys.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7312
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Zamfir » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:08 am UTC

There must be a point where it becomes provable legal fraud, but a smart operator can push a long way before they reach that point. You pay yourself a fat salary, and don't do too much for it. Hire children of others as a favour, under similar nice conditions. Hire your own shell companies for work, and those of your family. Give your mates (who run similar scams) consultancy gigs and get hired by them in return.

As long as you and your mates do something in those deals, and don't pay completely ridiculous prices, it becomes very hard to prove fraud. The trick is to set up a web of deals where you pay handsomely for little work, but to refrain from just wiring money-for-nothing to yourself.

lorb
Posts: 404
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:34 am UTC
Location: Austria

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby lorb » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:39 am UTC

sardia wrote:* Why don't rich people just spend their money hiring people to work on a campaign instead of donating?


Because the people running the campaign would know better whom to hire for what tasks?
Please be gracious in judging my english. (I am not a native speaker/writer.)
http://decodedarfur.org/

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:40 am UTC

sardia wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Rich people who are really concerned start their own PAC. As in the Koch brothers.

For the ultra rich, yea, but these scamPacs are targeted at small donors. Notice the sums spent on overhead? It's in the millions tops.
While I'm somewhat sympathetic to people who get scammed, I'm also of the opinion the same people would be much more skeptical of a panhandler who smells and looks like hell. They need to apply that same skepticism to anyone who asks for money. These PAC's are just better dressed panhandlers. There are a million things we should be worrying about. This is one million and one.

My rules of thumb for this kind of thing.

If someone calls me and asks for money I hang up.
If they have an accent which makes me think of India, I hang up quicker.(as a heuristic I understand it is racist)
I never give anything to anyone who asks me. If I want to give money to someone I go to them.
I don't donate to political parties. Period. I believe in public financing.
I remind myself constantly that I am not as smart as the guy on the other end of the phone, and I assume he/she is a thief.

KnightExemplar
Posts: 5492
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:52 pm UTC

sardia wrote:* Why don't rich people just spend their money hiring people to work on a campaign instead of donating?


Because when you're rich, the value of money is much smaller. $1 Million to you or me is a huge amount. On the other hand, Bill Gates can wipe-his-ass with $1 Million and not break a sweat. In fact, at the size of Bill Gate charity, he's found out that indeed, "campaigning" and "donating time" has a far bigger effect than just throwing money at the problem.

So... yeah. A responsible billionare would put in time and effort into non-profits / donations. But not all billionares are responsible.
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.

User avatar
sardia
Posts: 5857
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:39 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby sardia » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:50 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Is this legal?

Aren't PACs counted as non-profit charities? What's the technical term in English. NGO? Anyway, aren't there rules about what those sort of clubs can do? Presumably I can't start a charity, collect lots of donations, and then give myself all the moneys.

This is more an issue of trust than legality. It's perfectly legal because these PACs are unaffiliated, they have to be. If they were controlled by the candidate, then they would be coordinating, now that would be illegal.
Because they have to be unaffiliated, then any semblance of control is all in winks and nods.

In other words, the scotus ruling on PACs is that they are supposed be independent entities but campaigns take advantage of that independence to skirt campaign finance laws and morals. I.e. I didn't call your wife a shameless skank, an unaffiliated PAC did and i had nothing to do with it except it's operated by my former staff who I just had a meeting with. The scam is to leech off of that vagueness by pretending to be an affiliated PAC that is actually really unaffiliated.
They're essentially robbing a thief. The thief has limited recourse because they'd be admitting to a crime of coordinating with a PAC. A candidate can play whack a mole but the PACs shut down, and reform again when they receive threatening letters from lawyers.
It's sorta like rich people getting what they deserve, except now they are targeting everyone using fear. "big bad Obama is coming to gay marry your aborted fetus unless you give me 100$!".

Tyndmyr
Posts: 10173
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:19 pm UTC

I have to admit that yeah, it does seem like an obvious result. And at least some burden falls on those donating to do some research first. Not saying that scamming is okay, but you throw money at every fear mongering person, you're gonna get scammed. Just the natural result of things.

User avatar
sardia
Posts: 5857
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:39 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby sardia » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:17 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I have to admit that yeah, it does seem like an obvious result. And at least some burden falls on those donating to do some research first. Not saying that scamming is okay, but you throw money at every fear mongering person, you're gonna get scammed. Just the natural result of things.

When it happens to rich people, yea shame on them. But when you're targeting vulnerable old folks, let's face it it's a GOP donor base, maybe something needs to be done. Like diadem said, maybe the cops should treat it as a crime.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 10173
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:56 pm UTC

Targeting vulnerable old folks is normal for the "legitimate" donation folks as well. Where do you draw the line?

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:02 pm UTC

sardia wrote:When it happens to rich people, yea shame on them. But when you're targeting vulnerable old folks, let's face it it's a GOP donor base, maybe something needs to be done. Like diadem said, maybe the cops should treat it as a crime.
LMAO!!!! In one fell swoop you insulted old people and Republicans. You really don't think much of old folks, do you? Don't assume that most old people are stupid. SCOTUS set this up and Congress isn't going to give anyone any control over this.

User avatar
sardia
Posts: 5857
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:39 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby sardia » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:44 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Targeting vulnerable old folks is normal for the "legitimate" donation folks as well. Where do you draw the line?

Well obviously I draw the line at not having super PACs but that's besides the point. Then if a politician blows all his campaign dollars on fancy vacation and over priced consultants, then at least that candidate will lose. When the next election happens then nobody will find Mcloser. Right now every one is pretending to represent candidate X. Some transparency, or better yet jail time, would help.

Morris, are we insulting those people who get ripped off by con artists? Why even make it a crime?

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:51 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Morris, are we insulting those people who get ripped off by con artists? Why even make it a crime?
These aren't fly by night roofers. And we could debate how you referencing the victims(if there are any) as "old folks" is ageist. But what is a PAC selling and what have they stolen? If they commit fraud then they've broken the law and they should be punished. But otherwise I don't see a crime. And I doubt that Congress does. This is the nature of PAC's.

Getting old doesn't let you off the hook for spending your money responsibly, and in at least some fashion, however distorted, they get something for their money, satisfaction for having acted. If you want to fix the problem convince a majority to support public financing of at least Federal elections, eliminating PAC's, rather than trying to sell another byzantine layer of law covering fraud.

User avatar
ucim
Posts: 5640
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:23 pm UTC
Location: The One True Thread

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:37 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:convince a majority to support public financing of at least Federal elections
This doesn't work unless it's coupled with a prohibition on private campaigning, and that's hard to do without doing violence to the idea of freedom of speech. How would you solve this?

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4391
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:02 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
morriswalters wrote:convince a majority to support public financing of at least Federal elections
This doesn't work unless it's coupled with a prohibition on private campaigning, and that's hard to do without doing violence to the idea of freedom of speech. How would you solve this?

Jose


I think the short answer is "do violence to the idea of freedom of speech". The long answer is that you institute stringent spending caps on third-party spending. This is how most other democracies handle this problem.

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:58 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
morriswalters wrote:convince a majority to support public financing of at least Federal elections
This doesn't work unless it's coupled with a prohibition on private campaigning, and that's hard to do without doing violence to the idea of freedom of speech. How would you solve this?
Jose
Violence is being done to freedom of speech now. The Koch brothers can speak more loudly than I can. Yet they are but two men. Why should they have separately, a greater voice than me. They can act in at least two ways that I can't. Through their corporate identity and through their PAC. Not to mention the access their wealth grants them personally. Loudness is equivalent to dollar signs today.

elasto
Posts: 3129
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby elasto » Tue Aug 16, 2016 7:22 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I think the short answer is "do violence to the idea of freedom of speech". The long answer is that you institute stringent spending caps on third-party spending. This is how most other democracies handle this problem.

That's all well and good if most political advertising goes through the traditional tv channels and print media, but with a globalized social media, I don't see how it's possible to restrict influence peddling based overseas - especially viral marketing: "Ten reasons why Obama is gonna git your guns RIGHT NOW!"

It's similarly anachronistic when UK judges decree injunctions against newspapers revealing who had sex with who when I can hop onto Google and find out the answer in seconds. And, due to the Streisand Effect, I usually do...

Tyndmyr
Posts: 10173
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:23 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Violence is being done to freedom of speech now. The Koch brothers can speak more loudly than I can. Yet they are but two men. Why should they have separately, a greater voice than me. They can act in at least two ways that I can't. Through their corporate identity and through their PAC. Not to mention the access their wealth grants them personally. Loudness is equivalent to dollar signs today.


I agree that they have a greater voice than you. I do not think this is equivalent to dollar signs. Social media audience, etc may correlate with wealth, and wealth certainly affords additional options to pursue influence, but this isn't quite the same as donations. Rich people, without PACs, will still have way more influence than you.

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:51 pm UTC

Yes, and so? However I see no reason to add a multiplier to what they already have. Where I King of the world I would reverse the SCOTUS ruling that gave corporate entities a voice. If the Koch's want to protect their company, and promote their social agenda, let them use their personal pocketbooks and not their corporate identity.

As an example, I think Google is a pretty fair company. I also don't think Google, the corporation, should have a voice in politics or be able to donate(if they can). The stockholders can speak as individuals. And no corporate lobbying. None. Any one person, no matter how rich, if stripped of his henchman, can exercise the multiplier of his/her wealth as effectively. Like the poorest fool he has 24 hours in a day to use to do his business. If he has to visit his Congressman, instead of his lobbyist, it steals from him the advantage of having more time than I have. I'm sorry if that isn't as coherent as it could be.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 10173
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:59 pm UTC

Feh. We have technology, now. And poor people have day jobs, whereas rich people have powerful friends. Lobbyists exist even without PACs.

The fact that you both have 24 hours in a day does not make you equal.

Honestly, mostly the PAC thing is just an anonymity thing. It's not so much that it allows you to support a candidate, as that it allows you to do so with a modicum of anonymity.

morriswalters
Posts: 6949
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby morriswalters » Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:08 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The fact that you both have 24 hours in a day does not make you equal.
Nothing can make us equal as long as he is rich and I am not. And I don't try to reorder the nature of the universe. I offered a suggestion, nothing more. But everything takes time. The more of his one resource that we have equal amounts of, that I could force him to spend, the better for me. Technology has nothing to do with it.
Tyndmyr wrote:Honestly, mostly the PAC thing is just an anonymity thing. It's not so much that it allows you to support a candidate, as that it allows you to do so with a modicum of anonymity.
PAC's are about money. They could be about giving small voices some volume, instead what they do is drown out those voices. The only anonymity you are owed is at the ballot box. If you're ashamed of who you vote for the don't tell anyone.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 10173
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:33 pm UTC

He is not forced to spend time. He may, if he wishes to do so. Either with PACs or without them. His money makes his time way more powerful either way.

There is not really a power difference. You don't HAVE to form a PAC to advocate. If you want to have signs printed for a candidate and place an arbitrary number of them around...you can just do that. Rich people do not need PACs in order to exert power. PACs don't even really matter much for this. Shit, PACs do indeed routinely collect from individuals, rather than the superrich, as we see here(albeit with ill intent).

The exploit is the 501 non-profits. This allows the anonymity(well, kind of. Rich people, it's harder to really be anonymous, but on the flip side, social pressure doesn't affect them as much) that the Koch brothers and such embrace.


User avatar
Dauric
Posts: 3758
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:58 pm UTC
Location: In midair, traversing laterally over a container of sharks. No water, just sharks, with lasers.

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby Dauric » Mon Aug 29, 2016 6:08 pm UTC

I love that the scam website has a more attractive and dramatic graphic design than the real one.

And is it just me, or does Trump's expression (in both images) look like someone glued his lips together?
We're in the traffic-chopper over the XKCD boards where there's been a thread-derailment. A Liquified Godwin spill has evacuated threads in a fourty-post radius of the accident, Lolcats and TVTropes have broken free of their containers. It is believed that the Point has perished.

wumpus
Posts: 503
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:16 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby wumpus » Mon Aug 29, 2016 6:40 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Is this legal?

Aren't PACs counted as non-profit charities? What's the technical term in English. NGO? Anyway, aren't there rules about what those sort of clubs can do? Presumably I can't start a charity, collect lots of donations, and then give myself all the moneys.


The odd thing is that since this money is *supposed* to be spent in ways that would presumably benefit existing legislators, you would think they would bother to make it illegal. Presumably enough is "spread around" to various legislative staffers that nobody is going to touch it.

I originally thought "who do you think writes the laws?" but then realized that typically those PACs might want the extra muscle (or maybe they don't want the competition in political power, who knows).

DanD
Posts: 270
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:42 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby DanD » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:36 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Is this legal?

Aren't PACs counted as non-profit charities? What's the technical term in English. NGO? Anyway, aren't there rules about what those sort of clubs can do? Presumably I can't start a charity, collect lots of donations, and then give myself all the moneys.


Apparently Trump can.

But more generally, yes it's legal. As long as some of the money goes where they say it's supposed to, and the rest goes to anything that could be considered legitimate overhead (salaries, facility rentals, etc.), there's no law that says what the ratio has to be.

lorb
Posts: 404
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:34 am UTC
Location: Austria

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby lorb » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:49 pm UTC

Self-dealing is illegal and it looks very much like Trump did it.
Please be gracious in judging my english. (I am not a native speaker/writer.)
http://decodedarfur.org/

User avatar
sardia
Posts: 5857
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:39 am UTC

Re: GOP Operative Confesses: Most PACs Are Scams

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:59 pm UTC

lorb wrote:Self-dealing is illegal and it looks very much like Trump did it.

To clarify, it's kinda like a speeding ticket. The intention really matters here. What Trump did is like blowing past a school zone at 100mph repeatedly and then paid the fine with money that was donated for charity. The metaphor isn't exact since self dealing is in a way much worse than speeding, and yet punished more severely.
Btw, self dealing isnt really covered under super PACs. Trumps foundation is a charity, and is treated differently.


Return to “News & Articles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ElWanderer and 26 guests