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Local and national GOP officials are distancing themselves from a Washington, D.C.-based college Republican group that has used aggressive and misleading tactics to raise millions of dollars from elderly people.

The Herald-Sun reported Thursday that the College Republican National Committee has received at least 87 percent of its North Carolina donations from people who list their occupation as retired. Most of those contacted by The Herald-Sun were in their 80s.

This campaign season, the CRNC has raised more than $6.3 million nationally, putting it in the top 15 political groups tracked by the IRS. The group raised $93,280 in North Carolina.

Because the CRNC solicits under different names, such as the National Republican Task Force and the National Republican Victory Campaign, many seniors have donated to the group repeatedly, often several times in a single day or week. Many had made more than 50 donations since January, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars.

When asked about their giving, many of them had little understanding of how much they had donated or where their money was going. The group’s high-pressure mailings, which often play on senior citizens’ emotions, suggest that the money would help re-elect President Bush and other Republicans. But according to the Center for Public Integrity, which monitors campaign spending, the CRNC has spent at least 83 percent of its proceeds since 2000 on direct mailings and other fund-raising expenses.

See the rest here.

Then there’s this wonderful nugget from the Seattle Times

Some of the elderly donors, meanwhile, wound up bouncing checks and emptying their bank accounts.

“I don’t have any more money,” said Cecilia Barbier, a 90-year-old retired church council worker in New York City. “I’m stopping giving to everybody. That was all my savings that they got.”

Barbier said she “wised up.” But not before she made more than 300 donations totaling nearly $100,000 this year, the group’s fund-raising records show.

The guy at the center of all this seems to be Scott Stewart, chairman of the CRNC from 1999 until last year.

He left to run the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign in Nevada.

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