Donor Beware: A Guide To The Scammiest Conservative Direct Mail Shops

It’s become a significant siphon on conservative fundraising, intensified amid grassroots anger on the right in the age of Obama: direct mail or direct email outfits hit up conservatives around the country for small donations to beat the liberal agenda, or to support an unknown but exciting new right-wing candidate.

But the vast majority of the money goes to the group’s favorite vendors, or in some cases to enriching the group’s leaders.

So, for the conservatives out there, here’s a guide to some of the questionable groups TPMmuckraker has encountered — it’s probably best to send your money elsewhere:

AmeriPAC President Alan Gottlieb

AmeriPAC: Touting right-wing causes and a commitment to supporting conservative candidates, AmeriPAC’s flashy fundraising e-mails have raised almost $1.3 million in the 2010 election cycle. Of that money — accumulated from $20, $50, and $100 dollar donations from across the country — the group has spent only $1,300 on campaigns. On just one campaign, in fact, to unseat Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. Most of the money went to pay for AmeriPAC’s fundraising expenses.

Republican Majority Campaign: This California-based PAC asked potential donors to help support its fax campaigns to members of Congress to kill health care reform.

RMC’s Gary Kreep

Apparently, up to $144 per donor is required to get these faxes out. Donations sent to a separate outfit run by Republican Majority Campaign Executive Director (and Birthermercial star) Gary Kreep support mass faxes demanding President Obama’s birth certificate. Whatever it may cost to send a fax these days, the Republican Majority Campaign spent almost none of its resources on political spending. Over $1 million has gone to paying an Arizona telemarketing firm, and Kreep himself was paid $60,000 in 2009 for “legal services.”

BMW Direct: Calling itself a “full service creative agency,” this firm swore that its direct-mail campaigns — which hit on hot issues like outlawing abortion and getting the U.S. out of the U.N — raised money to support conservative candidates and fight “ultra-liberal” causes. The bulk of the money, however, went to paying for BMW Direct’s fundraising. When the firm headed a campaign by Charles Morse, an obscure Republican who took on Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in 2006, it took the majority of the $700,000 raised — and left Morse with only $30,000.

Base Connect: BMW Direct reincarnated, this group used direct-mail fundraising to help Pennsylvania Congressional candidate William Russell (R) raise a whopping $2.8 million … and even let him keep $211,000 of it. Targeting national Republican donors, Base Connect has continued BMW Direct’s game of backing long-shot candidates and keeping the bulk of the money for itself. This time, however, other GOP consultants are taking notice, with one referring to the practice as “subprime fundraising.”

So, be warned conservative donors: If someone wants $144 to send a fax, they probably also have a really awesome bridge they want to sell you…

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