For today’s readings, check out How to Raise $89 Million in Small Donations — And Make It Disappear at the New York Times. No paywall. The intro blurb:
A group of conservative operatives using sophisticated robocalls raised millions of dollars from donors using pro-police and pro-veteran messages. But instead of using the money to promote issues and candidates, an analysis by The New York Times shows, nearly all the money went to pay the firms making the calls and the operatives themselves, highlighting a flaw in the regulation of political nonprofits.
Here’s another bit:
About 90 percent of the money the groups raised was simply sent back to their fund-raising contractors, to feed a self-consuming loop where donations went to find more donors to give money to find more donors. They had no significant operations other than fund-raising, and along the way became one of America’s biggest sources of robocalls.
It is not clear why the groups plowed so much of what they raised back into more fund-raising calls; compared with other political nonprofits, their fund-raising expenditures were extraordinarily high.
But one other set of expenditures was especially notable: The groups also paid $2.8 million, or 3 percent of the money raised, to three Republican political consultants from Wisconsin who were the hidden force behind all five nonprofits, according to people who worked for the groups and who in some cases were kept in the dark by the consultants about the finances of the operations.
It’s all about the grift, folks. But those three guys may be feeling a tad exposed right now.
Rolling Stone has a story about Diane Feinstein’s apparent dementia.
Multiple sources tell Rolling Stone that in recent years Feinstein’s office had an on-call system — unbeknownst to Feinstein herself — to prevent the senator from ever walking around the Capitol on her own. At any given moment there was a staff member ready to jump up and stroll alongside the senator if she left her office, worried about what she’d say to reporters if left unsupervised. The system has been in place for years.
“They will not let her leave by herself, but she doesn’t even know it,” says Jamarcus Purley, a former staffer. …
… Purley described office meetings where an issue would be discussed for several minutes, only for Feinstein to bring up the same topic later in the same meeting. Senior staff would then run through the whole conversation again as if they were saying it for the first time, to the discomfort of everyone in the room except for Feinstein. Another witness corroborated this account.
That last symptom is classic Alzheimer’s. Until it’s very advanced patients retain knowledge they’ve had for a long time, but they can’t remember what they were just told, or even if they were told something. It’s like the brain erases itself in reverse chronological order, most recent stuff first. Repeating the information doesn’t help. Seriously, I can’t believe she’s been allowed to go on like this.
In other news: Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and tireless investigator of Hunter Biden’s laptop, admits he has lost an informant.
During an interview on Fox News, host Maria Bartiromo asked Comer about evidence he had of [President] Biden’s alleged corruption.
“You have spoken with whistleblowers,” she noted. “You also spoke with an informant who gave you all of this information. Where is that informant today? Where are these whistleblowers?”
“Well, unfortunately, we can’t track down the informant,” Comer replied. “We’re hopeful that the informant is still there. The whistleblower knows the informant. The whistleblower is very credible.”
“Hold on a second, Congressman,” Bartiromo said. “Did you just say that the whistleblower or the informant is now missing?”
“Well, we we’re hopeful that we can find the informant,” Comer said, explaining the informant was in the “spy business” and “they don’t make a habit of being seen a lot.”
“The nine of the ten people that we’ve identified that have very good knowledge with respect to the Bidens,” he added, “they’re one of three things, Maria, they’re either currently in court, they’re currently in jail, or they’re currently missing.”
Well, that certainly sounds credible.
I lived through my mom's short term memory loss, identical to Feinstein's. It's amazing to experience the same question repeated only five minutes after you first answered it, with the same fresh look of genuine curiosity on the face of the questioner, as if this was the very first time they asked. What's tragic about Feinstein is that she lacks the sense, or lacks anyone around her who could get through to her that she really should step down.
Re the grift from Wisconsin. I read that someone finally got thru to Sen Ron Johnson, from Wisconsin, regarding climate change. He started to process the consequences, but concluded it won't really affect Wisconsin, so what's the bother? I guess that's a step up from outright denial.
My mom also has memory issues, similar to what you describe. Thankfully she is still at home and doing pretty well! I'm not sure if Sen. Feinstein’s problem is old age or arrogance. I don't like to say that but something is wrong?
One of the better things that's happened during this era of Republican misrule, is that many of us have gotten a passable legal education, by dint of all the criminal activity going on.
I now know the difference between criminal and civil, for example. The Wisconsin grift sounds like a case of wire fraud. I hope the government is on it.
How do you lose something that was never there … ?
With all that I've learned about the law after the Reagan, W, and tRUMP years, I wonder how I'd do on the LSAT?
I'd bet that Sen. Feinstein most likely doesn't comprehend the extent of her slide into senior dementia.
Most people don't.
And nothing's defended more fiercely than ones own sanity – particularly by those already down that road to losing their mental acuity.
If you want to really piss someone off, point out that they don't remember things "the right way" – or something to that effect.
I'm sympathetic to Feinstein's medical condition. It sounds serious, not an occasional lapse, especially if her staff is compensating. (I'm reminded of a TNG Star Trek episode where Sarak (Spock's father) is losing his marbles and his staff and wife are hiding it and trying to compensate.) The problem with Feinstein, as it was with Sarak, is that disability endangers the mission. Somebody could be there doing the job she can not.
Regarding Biden and graft: I do not think Biden is taking money in exchange for anything. The GOP is beating this drum as hard as they can. Hunter Biden is a sleaze and an idiot. He found out that foreign companies will throw money at him in the hope of influencing Daddy. And Hunter does not have the integrity to turn down free money. This may have infected other members of the family or perhaps the other reported foreign money is legit. The TOTAL that the GOP is saying might be – for the whole Biden family going back a decade? – is ten million. (The GOP grift described above is 89 million.)
But if you are looking at foreign money, Trump's son-in-law received two billion (yes, with a B) from the Saudis, authorized by the chief bone-saw guy himself. This went to a corporation for investment in the US, not into Jared's pocket directly. If he doesn't personally pocket ten million, I'll eat my hat. This reeks of both-siderism, which I despise. I'm not saying, "But they do it, too." I'm asking if the accusations have anything to do with an objection to corruption When immediate family members of POTUS or members of Congress (or the USSC) receive large sums of money from any source, questions should be asked. I can think of several ethical responses that coould be enacted in law but I won't clutter this up now.
The GOP is in a tough spot for 2024. They can't get to 538 with Trump unless Independent voters in huge numbers turn out to vote against Biden or large numbers of Democrats stay home. (That doomed HRC.) But the plan is to make the stench of Biden worse than the stench of Trump. It's early in the campaign but Bidn's people ARE putting out a list of accomplishments, which is considerable. I don't think demonizing Biden will work while the stench of Trump could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon.
Great interview of E Jean Carroll + her attorney, Roberta Kaplan on Rachel Maddow. Kaplan made the point that until now, no defendant who lost a defamation case (as Trump did), has ever repeated the crime (as Trump did on CNN). It sounds like they’re going to go for another round. She also mentions that the defamation suit currently in progress should exact a higher amount of damages.
For E Jean, this seems like a lifetime achievement, to not only win personally against Trump but to feel justice for millions across the nation. It’s quite the interview…
If you want to know if you have been on the receiving end of these fund-raising scams…
They are scripted. They start with saying how hard they have been trying to reach you. That is followed with a cheesey joke that they laught at. Then they try to open your wallet and if you resist they get forceful which if you have not hung up can move to open hostility.
Here in the Mississippi of the Midwest (aka Indiana), I knew the person who operated the fund-raising for most of the police unions in the state. The 'charities' received about 30% of the money raised and his expenses were about 30% of the money raised. He ran that 'business' for about 15 years and found it to be much more financially profitable than his previous business venture of counterfeiting currency (for which he did 6 years in prison).
The police unions use the same 'fund raising' model in most states.
Hello fellow Hoosier (though I'm in the region, so not really?). I get those calls from some "Law enforcement support fund" or another all the time. I always tell them the same thing, I support the police because I pay my taxes, all my taxes! The last guy started to argue that they don't recieve enough from the State or local taxes, I told him: don't call me call the governer and ask them to raise taxes. That always gets them to hang up!
Biden seems to be "negotiating" over the debt ceiling. That seems to be a mistake but there may be stuff in play that I do not understand. This will end badly even if McCarthy and Biden reach an agreement, The Freedom Caucus felt that what they passed was a bare minimum. What may be on the table (and who knows how reliable the sources are) is not capitulation.
Ignoring what might be in the deal, if it's perceived by the GOP as a mere fraction of what they are demanding, there's gonna be a civil war within the GOP. (Is that Biden's plan?) There will be calls for McCarthy's removal. (I'd love to know Pelosi's take on what will result from a 'deal' when a large faction expected and will demand EVERYTHING – or else.) IMO, Biden is more strategic than any in the GOP – the contents of a deal are not important if the proposal will spur the GOP to turn on itself.
Biden is playing for 2024. Beating Trump may not be hard but Biden needs to take back the House and hold the Senate. The GOP is as volatile as nitroglycerine.
"Nitroglycerin is … a high explosive that is so unstable that the slightest jolt, impact or friction can cause it to spontaneously detonate."
The ideal outcome is for the GOP House to self-destruct in publc view, while Biden looks to be the adult in the room unable to bring order to the chaos of the GOP lunatics. I don't know this is the plan, but Biden played rope-a-dope with the last SOTU speech. So there are some strategic thinkers in Biden's orbit.
For the moment, it's fine if progressives scream bloody murder about any attempt to compromise on the debt ceiling. This will give the low-info voter the impression the "deal" is authentic. That sets the stage for the GOP to look like they are the dysfunctional group who killed the offer by being unreasonable. (See Maha's 'Bigger Asshole rule.)
The stakes here are very high – if a default can be avoided, it's worth some pain. If there will be a default, it's essential that the blame, as perceived by the low-info voter, falls squarely on the GOP.
[Stealing from Bobcat Goldwaith] "Comer lost his informants … Well, he didn't lose them, he knows where they are, they're just saying something different!"