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“Conservative Con Artists”: Are Republican Elites Ready To Shut Down The Circle Of Scam?

When Mike Huckabee decided to run for president, he surely knew that he’d be subjected to a level of scrutiny that your average Fox News host doesn’t have to worry about. So it was to be expected that commentators would start discussing Huckabee’s colorful history with regard to money, particularly the way he has used his email list to separate gullible conservatives from their funds, with scams like miracle Bible cancer cures. Ron Fournier looks at that today, and it just happens to coincide with an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by conservative writer Matt Lewis, who excoriates conservative con artists for the way they prey on the rank-and-file. Instead of convincing conservatives to subscribe to newsletters or buy useless products, the newly loose campaign finance laws now allow them to be targeted for bogus superPACs that are allegedly for political causes but actually seem to be just a way to make money:

There’s no need to pick on one group; PACs using similar tactics are all over the place. Another one with an innocuous-sounding name, Conservative America Now, is raising money to draft Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon to challenge Sen. John McCain. But Mr. Salmon might not run and doesn’t want the help. In February the Hill newspaper reported he was prepping a cease-and-desist letter to the group, which a spokesman for the congressman alleged “appears to intentionally mislead potential donors.”

Last year Fox’s Detroit affiliate WJBK ran an exposé on direct-mail fundraising companies that continue to solicit using the names of past clients, such as former Republican congressional candidate Rocky Raczkowski. One direct-mail firm, the piece noted, “collected $1 million to support Rocky Raczkowski for races he never ran.” The Fox reporter spoke to Mr. Raczkowski, who said he’d had no idea that funds were being raised using his name. Some of the donors went on camera as well, including senior citizens living on fixed incomes, who were aghast when they were told the truth.

John McCain tweeted that Lewis’s piece was a “must-read,” and this is making me wonder if there might be an elite backlash brewing against the longstanding right-wing con industry, whereby gullible (usually elderly) conservatives are targeted for all manner of schemes and scams by operators within the movement. I’ve been writing about this for a while (see here, here, or here), and one of the reasons this stuff can persist is because it often has the involvement or at least tacit approval of Republican elites. But many of those elites dislike Mike Huckabee intensely, both for his occasional forays into economic populism and for the fact that he puts forward exactly the type of image they’re trying to get away from, by writing books with names like God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. Since Huckabee is up to his neck in these kinds of scams, going after the whole little industry would be a great way to undermine him.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, May 8, 2015

 

May 9, 2015 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Conservatives, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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