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Saturday, January 05, 2013

 
Bankrolling the crazies

by digby

I hope that people don't think because Barack Obama handily won re-election that this sort of thing is benign and we needn't worry our pretty little heads about it, from Mother Jones:

Last month, the Washington Post reported that Richard Stephenson, a reclusive millionaire banker and FreedomWorks board member, and members of his family funneled $12 million in October through two newly created Tennessee corporations to FreedomWorks' super-PAC, which used these funds to support tea party candidates in November's elections. The revelation that a corporate bigwig like Stephenson, who founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chairs its board, was responsible for more than half of the FreedomWorks super-PAC's haul in 2012 undercuts the group's grassroots image and hands ammunition to critics who say FreedomWorks does the bidding of rich conservative donors.

Big donations like Stephenson's are business as usual for FreedomWorks. According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks' top brass for a board of directors meeting held in mid-December at the Virginia office of Sands Capital Management, an investment firm run by FreedomWorks board member Frank Sands, the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of "major gifts," the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs. (FreedomWorks' nonprofit components do not have to disclose their funders.)
[...]
According to ex-FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey, when he joined the organization in 2003, FreedomWorks relied heavily on corporate donations. The group, he says, subsequently weaned itself off such underwriting and used direct-mail lists—some provided by Armey—to build up a base of small donors. But in the last year, there was a "big surge in private individual contributions," most of which Armey says he didn't know about. "The details were kept secret from me," he remarks.

Yeah, sure. Not that it matters. It's well known that these big tea Party groups are astroturf. And it's a mistake to think they won't ever be effective just because they weren't terribly effective in 2012. They have managed to turn the GOP into a toxic wingnut swamp where each member is petrified of primaries. And that's where these groups have an advantage. Primaries are very hard to do without substantial money. And since these moneybags donors are in ideological sympathy with the Tea Party they are wiling to bankroll them. That's going to be a problem.


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