A California-based PAC called the Republican Majority Campaign spent nearly all of the $1.7 million it raked in from conservative donors last year, but less than 2% of the money went to supporting candidates or independent political spending.
The rest of the money raised by the group went to operating expenses, salaries for the PAC’s top officers, and back into fundraising appeals — which often ask supporters for as much as $144 in exchange for sending faxes opposing health care reform to members of Congress.
The lion’s share — roughly $1.3 million — of the group’s 2009 fundraising haul went to a murky Arizona telemarketing firm that goes under the name Political Advertising, which has been linked to questionable PAC activities in the past. Its business type in the state’s registry is given as “telephone fundraising.”Republican Majority Campaign’s Executive Director is Gary Kreep, the California-based attorney and activist who produced and starred in the Birthermercial. That was the late-night program that, much like the Republican Majority Campaign email appeals, asked viewers to donate $30 to send faxes to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that President Obama produce his birth certificate.
The Birthermercial was produced by Kreep’s United States Justice Foundation, which describes itself as “your conservative voice in the courts.” United States Justice Foundation and the Republican Majority Campaign are in adjacent suites at the same address in the San Diego County, CA, town of Ramona.
And while the groups have different phone numbers, calls by TPMmuckraker to each group were answered by the same receptionist.
The Republican Majority Campaign paid Kreep about $60,000 in 2009, mainly for “legal services,” according to FEC records. Randy Goodwin, the group’s co-founder and treasurer, was paid just over $75,000 for, among other things, “accounting services,” “management services,” and “medical reimbursement.” Neither man has responded to requests for comment.
“It’s a business model,” says Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center. “Whoever gives to one of these groups, they probably don’t realize it, but there are no laws or rules governing a percentage PACs need to give to candidates or spend on a particular kind of activity.”
One of Republican Majority Campaign’s recent fundraising pitches, sent on the email list of the conservative magazine Human Events, is headlined “Obamacare: The Final Battle!” and begins like this:
Dear Fellow American,
Barack Hussein Obama has spoken.
YOU, the American people, have decided NOT to listen!
Mr. Obama’s LIES have been uncovered!
The e-mail contains no less than five sections asking the reader to:
Please, CLICK HERE to FAX every Member of Congress to tell them to EXPOSE OBAMACARE as a complete sham. AND, please GIVE your largest possible DONATION to the Republican Majority Campaign to help us DEFEAT OBAMACARE!
Recipients who click through find a page where they can choose from several donation options — $19 to $144 — to send faxes to, for example, “ALL 59 Democrat/Independent U.S. Senators And a Donation for just $49.”
McGehee notes that sending faxes can be a legitimate way to lobby Congress, but with some groups “it is a product without much value. It is a product geared to getting the money in, not towards actually producing meaningful results. They’ll do a fairly perfunctory thing.”
You can see Republican Majority Campaign’s anti-health reform fax to Congress, which is headlined “‘NO MORE FEAR; NO MORE LIES!’ VERY IMPORTANT FAX / PLEASE ELIMINATE OBAMACARE,” here.
The group made news this last week when it released an ad trying to link Sen. Harry Reid to Arab “slave-bosses.”
That ad represents a rare instance of the Republican Majority Campaign spending in support of a candidate. While the PAC spent $3 million in the 2008 cycle, mostly on ads against Barack Obama, the picture has changed markedly since that time.
In 2009, the group spent just $15,600 — out of $1.6 million in total spending — on contributions to candidates, according to its latest FEC report.
Most of that money went to New York conservative congressional candidate Doug Hoffman and Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL). The Republican Majority Campaign also spent about $15,000 on independent expenditures — paying for a consultant — to work in support of Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race.
So where did most of the money go?
About $1.3 million went to the Arizona telephone fundraising firm called Political Advertising for services described on FEC forms as “phone/mail communication.” Located on the tenth floor of an office building in downtown Mesa, Political Advertising is another name for the Political Call Center, according to Arizona corporate records.
The company’s Web site advertises for “tele service agent” positions, but contains virtually no information about what the firm does. State records list Political Call Center’s owners as a pair of Delaware-based companies called the Corporation Trust Center and HCC Investment.
Despite the records listing, a spokeswoman for Corporation Trust Center’s parent company tells TPMmuckraker that Corporation Trust Center does not own Political Call Center, but rather provides a legal service for the firm.
The number for HCC Investment goes to a company called Wilmington Equities, which, like Political Call Center itself, did not respond to a request for comment.
This isn’t the first time Political Advertising has been on our radar.
TPMmuckraker first reported on Political Advertising and the Republican Majority Campaign in 2008. At the time, several PACs associated with former Reagan Administration official Linda Chavez and her family had been the subject of a Washington Post expose detailing how the groups churned through millions on fundraising and salaries but spent little on political activity.
Two of the Chavez-linked groups — the Pro-Life Campaign Committee and the Republican Issues Committee — had used the services of Political Call Center under a previous name, HCC Political Advertising.