Trump and the Republican party have used the impeachment process as a fundraising hook since Nancy Pelosi launched the inquiry back in September, but they’re not the only ones profiting from his supporters in this political moment. Maggie Severns reports:
As President Donald Trump raises money for his reelection campaign, heâ€™s competing for cash with a growing mass of pro-Trump PACs, dark money groups and off-brand Facebook advertisers neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Trumpâ€™s campaign. And they have pulled in over $46 million so far.
The groups mimic Trumpâ€™s brand in the way they look and feel. They borrow the presidentâ€™s Twitter avatar on Facebook pages, use clips of Trumpâ€™s voice in robocalls asking for â€œan emergency contribution to the campaignâ€ and, in some cases, have been affiliated with former Trump aides, such as onetime deputy campaign manager David Bossie. But most are spending little money to help the president win in 2020, POLITICO found.
Scam fundraising operations are nothing new, particularly on the Right. My inbox filled a few years ago with appeals from senders with names that rhymed with “Americans for Freedom and Security”, for example. When I looked them up on OpenSecrets.org, these groups turned out to have spent most of their money on items like “consulting” and “administration” (hint: it went into the founders’ pockets). That particular parade started soon after Newt Gingrich dropped out of the 2012 presidential race — I signed up for his list for monitoring purposes only, thank you, and I suspect the campaign shopped it around. Occasionally scam PAC perpetrators get busted for fraud, but more often they face no practical consequences.
As Paul Waldman noted today, Trump’s supporters have essentially self-selected to become the perfect marks for a MAGA-branded scam:
They didnâ€™t just elect Americaâ€™s biggest con artist, the man who created Trump University and the Trump Network and the Trump Institute and the Trump Foundation and all his other scams. They rallied behind him with an absolutely rapturous fervor, long after everyone understood exactly what he is. They cheer every lie he tells them, repeat every bizarre argument he makes and treat him like a demigod walking amongst us. If these suckers arenâ€™t asking to be separated from their money, who could be?
Trump’s campaign is naturally displeased with someone ELSE fleecing the flock, but I suspect they’ll have a tough time cracking down. Email list-buying is all too common on the Right, to the despair of honest conservative political fundraisers, and a new fake PAC or ten will pop up for every one exposed or shut down. Note: shame won’t work on these guys, only lawsuits, prosecution or tar-and-feathers.
In his piece, Waldman highlights a great examination of the less-than-proud tradition of Republican political fundraising, “The Long Con” — a history lesson I return to regularly for inspiration. An oilfield in the placenta? Where’s my wallet! Conning the rubes is a proud tradition in the modern conservative movement; Trump just forgets the part about keeping it quiet. And now scammers are cashing in on HIS impeachment? SAD! And so a political movement goes down the tubes, one gullible donor at a time.