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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Grifting

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal.    The update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Here is the latest on his team of grifters.

The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) reports on a scam 527:
CLC's Brendan Fischer and Maggie Christ published a report in collaboration with Axios on a group called the Presidential Coalition, a 527 that is raising money by capitalizing on former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie's connection to the President. The fundraising appeals have paid off, as the group has achieved a fundraising explosion after Trump was elected. But this analysis shows that the group devoted only a trivial proportion of its post-2016 spending to the cause it says it is supporting.
...
According to the Presidential Coalition’s reports on file with the IRS, approximately two-thirds of its contributions in 2017 and 2018 came from donors giving less than $200 in a single year—and evidence suggests that older and retired individuals make up a sizeable portion of the Presidential Coalition’s fundraising base. Specifically:

  •  of the larger, itemized donations where an occupation was reported, the majority came from retired individuals;
  • the Presidential Coalition raises funds using a telemarketing firm that former employees have accused of targeting the elderly; and 
  • the Presidential Coalition’s Facebook ads, which link to fundraising appeals or help build the group’s fundraising list, are almost entirely targeted to users over the age of 65. 
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to misleading fundraising appeals, and donors of average means may not have the resources or connections to ensure that their donations are being used effectively.

Derek Kravitz for ProPublica reports on an event during the Chinese President's April 2017 visit to Mar-a-Lago:
 At some point later that evening, a group repaired to Mar-a-Lago’s Library Bar, a wood-paneled study with a portrait of Trump in tennis whites (titled “The Visionary”) hanging nearby. The group asked the bartender to leave the room so it “could speak confidentially,” according to an email written by Mar-a-Lago’s catering director, Brooke Watson.

The Secret Service guarded the door, according to the email. The bartender wasn’t allowed to return. And members of the group began pouring themselves drinks. No one paid.
Six days later, on April 13, Mar-a-Lago created a bill for those drinks, tallying $838 worth of alcohol plus a 20% service charge. It covered 54 drinks (making for an average price of $18.62 each) of premium liquor: Chopin vodka, Patron and Don Julio Blanco tequilas and Woodford Reserve bourbon. Watson’s email did not specify how many people consumed the alcohol or who the participants were. (It stated that she was told the participants included then-strategist Steve Bannon and then-deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin. Bannon, who has said he stopped drinking years ago, said he didn’t drink at Mar-a-Lago and didn’t recall the episode. Hagin did not respond to requests for comment.)

The bill was sent to the State Department, which objected to covering it. It was then forwarded to the White House, which paid the tab.