John R. Houk
© June 11, 2014
I often post relevant emails from PACs that are also fund raising for a cause. I don’t necessarily support the fund raising but I always include that info to give the reader the choice to do so.
While in the course of looking for background info on one those emails from the Conservative Campaign Committee (CCC) I ran into some information that I found disappointing about various Tea Party organizations. One of those organizations is one of my favorites as far as the Tea Party Movement goes which is the Tea Party Express (let’s abbreviate as TPX). The TPX has a few offshoot PACs of which I also have a close affinity for; such as Move America Forward and the CCC.
The disturbing information I discovered was the accusation that TPX leadership pocket substantial amounts of their donations for personal use and only utilize a small percentage for the actual Tea Party agenda. So I wrote a kind of a full disclosure paragraph prior to posting the CCC email entitled “Benghazi Bombshell: Allen West's Stunning Report” on May 26, 2014. Here is that paragraph:
The Conservative Campaign Committee (CCC) sent a donation request via email and in doing so talked about the subject of Benghazigate. Just a heads up about donations to this particular Tea Party connected PAC is that there appears to be a lineage questionable spending of those donations. Apparently this lineage of Tea Party organizations spend most of their donated money on salaries than they do on the causes they promote. Of course donation mismanagement accusations might be an attack job by the Republican Establishment elites growing weary of Tea Party organizations telling voters they can make a difference by not voting for RINOs and/or Republicans with a semi-Conservative agenda but refuse to change the air of political corruption plaguing Congress. A lot of fiefdoms would topple among Dems and the GOP Establishment that maintain the power structure of do-nothing to solve budget and debt crises in America (Perhaps there is a suggestion GOP elite response HERE and HERE.)
The first link (other than the CCC link) is to RightOnDaily.com. Before discussing that link here is a very brief description from their about page:
The Right On Daily Blog – is now a collaborative effort of several conservative activists in Placer County. As such, individual identities are not specified.
Please note that the primary purpose of RightOnDaily.com is about exposing fraud in the Republican Party and the agendas of government.
Posted - 2:47 am
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The Placer County spoken of on the about page has been a Republican Party stronghold for some time with a population of nearly 350,000 people that stretches from near Sacramento to its west to the Nevada border on its east. So for clarification’s sake it is true to say that RightOnDaily.com supports a Conservative agenda.
Aaron F. Park authored the post of the critical information of various Tea Party organizations of which the TPX lineage is also included. The post is entitled “Finally! National Exposure “Tea Party” PAC’s exposed for the frauds they are…” Park quotes a story that he only identifies as MSM so I am unsure of the actual source:
Three well-known groups — the Tea Party Patriots, the Tea Party Express and the Madison Project — have spent 5 percent or less of their money directly on election-related activity during this election cycle. Two other prominent tea party groups, the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks, have devoted about 40 percent of their money to direct candidate support such as ads and yard signs.
On average, super PACs had spent 64 percent of their funds on directly helping candidates by roughly this stage in the 2012 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data.
I have a limited familiarity with the Tea Party Patriots and the Senate Fund so I will let them off the hook with my thoughts. The accusation that the TPX (and probably related affiliates) have only spent 5% of their donations on “election related activity” as compared to the 40% or the larger 64% is quite the accusation.
It took some random Googling to stumble upon the article that Aaron Park spoke of. I was not surprised the article was in the Washington Post written by Matea Gold. The article written by Ms. Gold is entitled “Tea party PACs reap money for midterms, but spend little on candidates”. Gold’s article is probably more fodder for Establishment Republicans than for Dems. If the Dems overtly and specifically criticize the fiscal management of Tea Party organizations, there is a good chance blow back on Dem campaign tactics like ballot stuffing of ineligible voters (e.g. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and dead people etc.) and more nefarious practices by Community activist Dem or Leftist PACs. Leftist PACs campaign practices go way beyond pouring money into individual Dem candidates and would dwarf any significance to any fiscal mismanagement Gold accuses Tea Party organizations of.
I found a Hot Air article which tries to be even handed but in my opinion leans toward Establishment favoritism managed a fair and balanced quote from Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express that places Gold’s statistics in a better perspective:
The Tea Party Express, a PAC run out of Sacramento by longtime Republican consultant Sal Russo, has paid Russo’s firm $2.75 million since the beginning of 2013, while donating just $45,000 to candidates and spending less than $162,000 on ads and bus tours supporting their election.
Russo said that figure was misleading because most of the payments to his firm were reimbursements for the cost of staffing the elaborate bus tours and rallies that the group holds around the country.
“Everything goes on our credit card,” he said. “Sometimes there’s up to 45 people that we’ve got to feed and house.”
Those activities, while not explicit political expenditures, give a bigger return than expensive television ads, Russo said. (WaPo: Tea Party PACs spend most of their cash on themselves; By Ed Morrissey; Hot Air; 4/28/14 2:01 PM)
It sounds to me like Russo is saying TPX spends most of its money on grass roots organizing. HELLO! Building grass roots voters is what will build a strong voting bloc. Ultimately rallies and meetings spreading the Conservative message of fair taxes, less government, fiscal responsibility and constitutional Originalism. People that vote for a political party out of a family heritage, Union pressures or popularity due to name recognition are typically ignorant voters. Committed Leftists know what they are voting for and will mislead the young, the minorities and the elderly based on government hand-outs. This group of people may not realize they are voting for bigger taxes, bigger and more intrusive government, the delusion that a fetus is a part of a person’s body like an appendix and an immoral society. Tea Party voters know they are voting for Conservative principles. Now it may be true that many Tea Partiers may disagree on certain degrees of Social Conservatism yet it is my sense Social Liberal values is a minority while Social Conservative values is more the norm.
The grass roots nature of the Tea Party Movement is more than the solidifying the Conservative like-minded. Grass roots also means educating voters. A knowledgeable voter can make up their mind based on what they know rather than what they are told in America’s voting system. In this grass roots vein, a highly organized Tea Party organization like TPX and affiliates will benefit real Conservative candidates in the long run. This will irritate the odd GOP Establishment political spectrum of Left leaning RINOs through slanted Right Republicans that may talk a good Conservative game but vote to not rock the political boat.
It is these GOP Establishment types that utilize the journalism of WaPo’s journalist Matea Gold to slam various Tea Party organizations by warping statistics to imply personal pocketing of donations. Now I can see the comeback for my assertion might be something like, “So why do these Tea Party leaders pay themselves big salaries and pay their own private businesses for product and services rendered to their Tea Party PAC organization?”
Well let’s see. We live in America. America is a Capitalist entrepreneurial system. It may nepotistic for a politician to influence taxpayer money to their own business or to a business that benefits a family member, but PAC is private funding. There is nothing wrong with using your own business to provide goods and services for a non-taxpayer funded PAC. Dear god! If you can help with sourcing a political agenda you believe in more power to you. I mean billionaire George Soros has his money in so many PACs I’d have to Google a list to find them all. Old Soros has bought into the Leftist transformation of society whole sale steer voters to his way of thinking. Do you think Soros might own something that benefits from providing goods and services to one of the Leftist PAC organizations? It may be more difficult to discover because Soros is a billionaire that supports a society that will eliminate the wealthy that disagrees with a Left a wing utopian society. He makes the same kind of money he derides the wealthy for. So Soros uses shell companies that own shell companies that own companies which own another company. That makes it difficult to trace the power behind the money to a Left Wing PAC.
So what if a Tea Party leader is not trying to hide his personal involvement for what he believes in, right?
But then there are other Conservatives and Tea Party organizations that view doing business with yourself as a sign of corruption. In asking why I can only speculate. Conservatives like Aaron Park representing a Conservative organization like RightOnDaily.com might be displaying a legitimate even if misguiding suspicion. The term “misguided” is best description I can give of a legitimate Conservative criticizing another legitimate Conservative’s financial methods. Disagreement with the organizational management might be irritating, but I would hesitate to smear a fellow Conservative with nefarious financial practices. Business decisions don’t always work out for the person that may lose a profit to another business. I’m just speculating in Park’s case but perhaps he had a bad business transaction, watched a bad business transaction or heard of a bad business transaction by say someone like a TPX leadership person such as Sal Russo which may have rubbed Park the wrong way.
There may be the case of Tea Party organization rivalry as well since the Tea Party Movement is not monolithic. There are the large Tea Party organizations like TPX, but realize most Tea Party organizations are localized by State and even in some cases by County. Connectivity between Tea Party organizations is purely voluntary. If a large organization like TPX plans an event on another local Tea Party organization’s turf and there is disagreement or a lack of agenda coordination, sour grapes are bound to be the produce.
Personally I’d like to see the Tea Party Movement become a little more monolithic perhaps even as a political party to eliminate the Establishment portion of the GOP. But that is just me. I suspect a large number of Tea Parties have an affinity to the local independence of a Tea Party organization to push the Conservative agenda that is relevant to the locality. National issues often do not equate well with a local issue.
For an Op/Ed article to WaPo’s Gold article, a very good perspective defending how a Tea Party’s fiscal spending agenda can be found at the Tea Party News Network (TPNN) by Greg Campbell entitled “The Left Simply Doesn’t Get it: WaPo Slams Tea Party for Grassroots Commitment”. In that Op/Ed Campbell quotes a great thought from Sal Russo:
“All of the tea party Senate victories over the last two cycles have been candidates who had strong grassroots support, but were outspent by their establishment opponents. The facts are there, but the Washington mentality refuses to see reality. In 2010, when we didn’t have a presidential nominee to dominate the messaging, we won 10 straight Senate primaries for the underdog who was out-spent by the establishment. So it obviously shows that good campaigns that are adequately finance with grassroots support can consistently beat big-spending establishment candidates.
They obviously ignore the fact that most of our activity is not allocable to specific candidates under the FEC laws and regulations. When we do rallies and encourage people who either attend, see us on the internet or in the media to get engaged in the political process, it has a profound effect on the election, but it is not reportable as a direct expenditure. If they are right that engaging people in the political process is irrelevant, why does the establishment spend millions of dollars to defeat tea party candidates?”
Ryan Gill of TPX affiliate CCC wrote an email pertaining to that short paragraph I had written on May 26 that informed readers to be cognizant before donating to CCC. That email was a reassurance that there was no hanky-panky going on at CCC. Ryan didn’t go into specifics about those reassurances. I discovered those reassurances in studying for this post. I had asked for permission to post Mr. Gill’s email. Mr. Gill responded to my permission request with this email sent on June 1:
I was a little non-specific in my email to you just because I just wanted to reassure you and let you know I can answer questions. But sure, you're welcome to post it and I'd be happy to see your readers reassured as well. Thanks.
Being typically behind in reading my emails I did not get to Mr. Gill’s permission email until June 10. So I decided to investigate the opposite of “non-specific” before I posted Mr. Gill’s original reassurance.
I am reassured.
Below is the reassurance email. I originally intended to lead off with, but I thought it better to write what I discovered first.
Re: CCC and spending
By Ryan Gill
Website: Conservative Campaign Committee
Sent: June 1, 2014 3:58 PM
Original Response Date: May 27, 2014 at 7:19 PM
Sharing by Permission
Just saw your post with lengthy disclaimer about CCC and wanted to reassure you that we really value the contributions people make and we're proud of how we're able to use those funds to be effective on behalf of the conservative movement.
Of course there's a lot of confusing and sometimes misleading information out there and it's often convenient for liberal reporters or others not to dig deeper and actually find out what's going on. So I appreciate that you want to do your due diligence and you want readers to be apprised. So it's a constant battle for us explaining what we do, how and why...and often to people who have already decided that they just don't like us or what we do.
So I just wanted to reassure you about our organization and efforts and make sure you know that I'm available to answer questions (though I may be slow at times) if there's something you don't understand.
And of course: thanks so much for sharing our email and for all the good work you do! We're glad you're out there.
I feel good about donating to CCC as a Tea Party Movement cause. Here is their donation page if you are in a position as a giver.