Politico's Ken Vogel today examined how “the conservative movement has been plagued by an explosion of PACs that critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them.” Media Matters has similarly found that conservative media is infected with scams, touting cancer “cures,” dubious financial companies, reverse mortgages, and fringe penny stocks.
Vogel noted the financial stakes of the proliferation of these shady groups:
A POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission covering the 2014 cycle found that 33 PACs that court small donors with tea party-oriented email and direct-mail appeals raised $43 million -- 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses, including $6 million to firms owned or managed by the operatives who run the PACs. POLITICO's list is not all-inclusive, and some conservatives fret that it's almost impossible to identify all the groups that are out there, let alone to rein them in.
Vogel explained that Fox News contributor and influential conservative activist Erick Erickson is a frequent critic of these dubious PACs, yet the email list bearing his website has nonetheless promoted some of their efforts. Erickson told Vogel he does not control who rents his list, “and it horrifies me that the list sometimes get rented to some of these guys.”
Media Matters has previously documented how conservatives have scammed their followers. Erickson, for example, was caught sending a plagiarized email (from Ann Coulter) endorsing a newsletter which purported to reveal a “secret” system to become “instant millionaires.”
Here are 11 recent examples of how conservatives have been scamming their followers:
- Mike Huckabee sold out his fans to a quack doctor, conspiracy theorists, and financial fraudsters.
- Conservative media such as Erick Erickson's RedState, Dick Morris, Newsmax, Townhall, and Human Events have pushed paid promotions for dubious marijuana stocks.
- Tea party scammers have been aided by media outlets like CNN and Fox News, which, in the words of one of the shady groups in question, have given the tea partiers “great television news coverage” to promote their efforts.
- Subscribers to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich's email list have received supposed insider information about cancer “cures,” the Illuminati, “Obama's 'Secret Mistress,'” a “weird” Social Security “trick,” and Fort Knox being “empty.”
- Five conservative outlets promoted a quack doc touting dubious Alzheimer's disease cures.
- Conservative media sold out their followers to a disgraced financial firm, Stansberry & Associates.
- Fox News contributor Wayne Rogers acted as a “paid TV spokesperson” for a company pitching reverse mortgages to senior citizens. Fox had previously reported that “there's a lot of evidence” that reverse mortgages are “predatory loans.”
- Tobin Smith, the dubious stock pitchman fired from Fox News.
- Fox analyst Charles Payne was paid to push now worthless stocks.
- The Dick Morris/Newsmax super PAC boondoggle.
- Right-wing media helped “scam PACs” raise money from their readers.