Those email and direct mail solicitations – trust but verify

Don't trust those political emails from PACs

One of the more annoying parts of the political business is getting 6-7 emails a day from different groups asking for money. I’ve long given my opinion about donating to the NRSC or NRCC for various reasons. While I don’t donate to them at all, at least they spend their money on actual elections.

I got this one email the other day from something calling itself “Conservative Campaign Committee” claiming to be a Ted Cruz supporting PAC. I get about 3 emails a day from this group. I then saw the address from California. Why the hell would a Ted Cruz PAC be headquartered in California? 

I looked them up on FEC. Committee Code. C00495010

They raised 1.57 million last year. 2013. They spent 1.57 million last year and have 20K cash on hand. I have to question that spending considering it was a mid-year. 

Direct Expenditures – $2000 to committees. $500 to Grooms in South Carolina. $250 to Jason Smith in Missouri. $1250 to Lonegan in New Jersey. 

Independent expenditures – $165,000. 

That means this PAC spent almost 1.4 Million in “Other federal operating expenditures.” That ain’t good. That’s usually administrative costs, consulting, and other things. While some overhead is understandable (phones, utilities, rent, and even the occasional consultant), the majority of the money raised should go to candidate assistance or independent expenditures. Not salaries. Especially with a PAC. 

I got a ton of emails from “tea” as well. Committee Code C00520825

They raised $3 Million, and spent $2.7 million. $100,000 on candidate assistance. $25,000 on independent expenditures, and tons of consulting fees.

Keep in mind this is for 2013, which only has major elections in Virginia and New Jersey, outside of some special elections and local municipalities. Most of that money should be cash on hand for 2014 – if the goal is to actually assist candidates. Personally, I’m highly suspicious of this and think their goals are to keep the consultants (often themselves) in business instead of actually winning elections. 

Based on what I see based on FEC Reports under the committee numbers C00495010 and C00520825, I suspect that about 3-4 million of donor money was pissed away.

As a treasurer and campaign finance compliance consultant, I don’t have much of a tolerance of waste. Consulting costs aren’t always bad, but they should not be taking up 90% of your spending, especially when there isn’t much given in candidate assistance. Consultants should enhance, not detract. These are PAC’s, not candidate committees. PAC’s don’t need the same consultants that candidates do. 

My recommendation is to donate to who you trust. The more “national” a group is, the less apt that it be trustworthy.

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  3 comments for “Those email and direct mail solicitations – trust but verify

  1. February 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    It can be tough as some groups exist to fatten the wallets of the operators off the generosity and concern of well intentioned donors.

    Others are legit, but not necessarily efficient.

    If I give to a national group it is because they are specific where the money is going. AND I can trust that it will. Its a little difficult to really be certain for most folks however.

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  2. Republican Michigander
    February 14, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I'd say the majority of candidate committees are legit, but not necessarily efficient, and some candidates just aren't fundraisers and do the best they can with what they have. That's why I made sure I blasted specific PAC's instead of candidates. I give a lot more leeway to the 5 digit PACs compared to the 7 digit PAC's where it takes effort to do a bad job.

    If I had a 7 digit PAC, I could take even a $99,000 salary from it and play ball in several districts, maybe even flipping a few of them justifying my cut. I wouldn't be spending 7 digits on admin costs.

    What I don't know is where the consultants spent their money. That's why I said suspicious. Some of these transactions are tough even for me to determine, and that's my field.

    It's not where I'd spend my dollars however.

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