The headline on “How We Killed the Tea Party” overstates the case, but the movement isn’t what it once was, or could have been. And it does identify a major culprit:
As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.
What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.
I was an employee at one of the firms that ran these operations.
After stating that, I wasn’t at all surprised to see this: “For 18 months ending in 2013, I worked for one of these consultants, Dan Backer, who has served as treasurer for dozens of PACs, many now defunct, through his law and consulting firm.”
Yep, Dan Backer, who I’ve been sounding the scam alarm about since 2014. Backer has been running scam PACs like Patriots for Economic Freedom, Conservative Action Fund, Stop Hillary PAC, and a host of others.
And Backer is now cashing in on Donald Trump’s name:
This cycle, Backer and MacKenzie have kept Trump’s lawyers busy. Despite Trump’s constant protests about “corrupt” super PACs, MacKenzie started “Patriots for Trump” and Backer founded “TrumPAC.” MacKenzie shuttered Patriots when the Trump campaign complained, although the Facebook page remains active. The campaign persuaded Backer to change TrumPAC’s name to “Great America PAC.” But the PAC begged off requests to shutter and “refund any funds raised” based on Trump’s candidacy. Jesse Benton, Great America’s chief strategist and formerly a Ron Paul operative, explained the PAC would remain active because Trump would need “a robust and effective finance organization … after he secured the nomination.” By law, the campaign can have no say in how this “finance organization” spends its money, though its website still prominently features the candidate and his trademark slogan. It pledged to raise $20 million dollars before the Republican convention.
And yes, I wrote about Great America PAC as well.
Evidently Scott MacKenzie is puling the same scam. “An analysis found 10 conservative PACs whose treasurer was Scott MacKenzie spent 92 percent of the $17.5 million they raised on operating expenses, and less than 1 percent on candidate support.”
The lesson, yet again, is never donate to a random email or mail solicitation, and when you do donate, use a candidate’s direct donation page.
(Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)