We've got a couple more examples of how a conservative Washington political group is raising money on behalf of other people then keeping a extraordinary chunk of that money in fees
, a direct-mail fundraising firm, has been raising money for groups called Freedom's Defense Fund and The Madison Project.
It's not clear what Freedom's Defense Fund supposedly does. It shares an address at the same office
as BMW Direct. It does not appear to have a Web site.
The Madison Project, according to its Web site
, "raises money for conservative candidates through our network of grassroots conservatives."
Today ProPublica points out
a Roll Call story
from April showing that the Washington firm raised more than $1 million for Freedom's Defense Fund during the past three election cycles and spent more than 95 percent on the fundraising effort.
BMW Direct didn't return our phone call yesterday, but they did talk to Roll Call
a couple months ago.
[BMW Direct Chief Operating Officer Michael] Centanni defended the in-house arrangement and the PAC's seemingly high operating expenses, arguing that "Freedom's Defense Fund doesn't pay any rent. ... We don't have payroll, and we try to keep our costs low."
And despite the fact that only 5 cents for every dollar the PAC raises actually goes to Republican candidates or causes, Centanni said it provides a vehicle for less-heeled donors "to be part of the process." He also said to check back with the group in November, when he expects expenses to dwindle and predicted that three cycles of donor mining will finally pay off.
"We will be spending a lot more money ... on contributions to candidates," he said.
As for the Madison Project, we checked the group's records over at the Center for Responsive Politics. It looks like the Madison Project so far this election cycle has spent
nearly $300,000 on direct mail efforts with BMW Direct and its affiliates.
It has given no money
in contributions to federal candidates so far this cycle.