The election of 2012 broke all records for spending on campaigns and collateral causes of political movers and shakers. The orgy of spending was triggered by the Citizen’s United decision allowing donors to make unlimited contributions anonymously. A by product of this landscape littered with special interest cash was a new industry driven by hucksters intent on sucking up substantial portions of the money flying around in the political ether.
One of those hucksters was the toe-sucking grifter, Dick Morris. Rachel Maddow recently reported on his scam that involved soliciting donations for a Super PAC that he claimed to have founded, and funneling those funds to his accomplices at the right wing blog Newsmax. Then NewsMax used some of that money to pay Morris for access to his email donors list so that they could solicit more donations. In effect, Morris was raising money to pay himself to raise more money.
Another example of this racket involved the Astroturf-roots, Tea Party operation, FreedomWorks. In the wake of scandalous revelations that their former chairman Dick Armey had staged an armed coup to wrest control of the group from his partners, it has been learned that the organization was taking the funds received from unsuspecting donors who opposed big government waste and depositing them in the bank accounts of wealthy broadcasters like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. These payouts were ostensibly intended to buy positive promotions of FreedomWorks on their programs in order to produce more donations that could also be paid out to the promoters. It was a blatantly circular self-enrichment scheme that was also described by Armey as “ineffective” and “a mistake.”
These incidents illustrate a congenital characteristic of the conservative mindset. It is a philosophy that explicitly lauds a dog-eat-dog flavor of wealth creation and celebrates the success of ruthless entrepreneurship and Greed-Obsessed Profiteers (i.e. GOP).
At the center of this con game is Fox News and the associated right-wing media machine. The unprecedented sums of money raised and spent in the last election cycle exceeded $5 billion dollars. Of that it is estimated that $3.4 was spent on advertising. In the world of Republican politics there is only one elephant in the room when it comes to media, and that is Fox News, the number one rated cable news network (for now) and the PR division of the GOP.
Fox was the first stop on every Republican’s campaign trip. It was where groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity dumped the bulk of their television ad dollars. It was the TV base for Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Scott Rasmussen, and the Breitbart-affiliated activists who were pretending to be movie producers.
Fox News was running the same scam as those described above. They would provide a platform for conservative politicians and organizations to solicit donations. The organizations would then pay Fox to run their ads with the money they raised from their appearances on Fox. And round and round it goes.
This is a tactic exploited so well by Rupert Murdoch himself in the last election cycle when he donated a million dollars to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who promptly returned it to Fox in the form of ad buys. In this way Murdoch actually made a 22% profit on his donation to the Chamber, and the Chamber got their ads broadcast at a 78% discount.
The maze of campaign finance laws makes it difficult to ascertain whether or not any laws were broken by these financial shenanigans. But the Federal Elections Commission is such an impotent agency that it would be surprising if they ever bothered to investigate or punish such lawbreakers.
However, what is even more surprising is that anybody would contribute to these organizations if they knew that their donations were not being used to advance the causes they support, but instead are lining the pockets of the executives and fundraisers. It is brazen betrayal of the folks who put their hard-earned dollars to work for their beliefs. But it is also precisely what conservatives are best known for: making themselves rich at the expense of the little people.
Hysterical Addendum] Dick Armey is now claiming that when he spoke with Media Matters and made his remarks about FreedomWorks, and their wasting money on Beck and Limbaugh, he actually thought he was talking to the uber-rightist Media Research Center. That explains his candor. He clearly believed that those comments would never be made public by MRC.