Fundraising exposes empty promises of conservatism

Conservative political fundraising and televised megachurches fleece people out of hard-earned money.

(Lakewood Church of Joel Osteen Ministries. Photo courtesy of ToBeDaniel/Wikimedia Commons)

A New York Times investigative piece published today highlights the fundraising scam that keeps the financial heart of many independent conservative political groups beating. An extension of Tea Party furor aimed at taking down Obamacare in 2009 and 2010, hundreds of organizations have popped up to push for political goals, like removing House Speaker John Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from office.

But the Times investigation found that most of the funds raised by these groups do not end up supporting the cause for which the money was raised, according to campaign finance records.

These political groups invite “emergency donation(s),” but many of them spend no money to support candidates. All of their funds go towards paying for direct mail, consultants, and more fundraising.

“Activists” jumped on Rep. Paul Ryan as soon as it was clear that he was likely to run to replace Boehner after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the race.

The Constitutional Rights PAC sent this email to over 1 million supporters on Wednesday:

“Conservatives forced John Boehner to resign, Kevin McCarthy to forsake his run for speaker, and we have got to stop the establishment’s latest pick: Paul Ryan.”

Among the group’s other objectives? To “end Jeb (Bush)” and “end gun-free zones.”

“This is clearly an organized effort and an attempt by these groups to raise money for themselves… they hurt our country,” Republican Senator Susan Collins said, according to the Times.

She’s right. But she misses the link between these fundraising scams and the emptiness at the core of the promises made by movement conservatives.

For example, Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it and eliminate its guaranteed benefit. But a Ryan spokesperson said his plan would “protect and strengthen Medicare” in 2013.

This ‘have our cake and eat it too’ mentality is at the heart of right-wing extremism, both political and religious, as John Oliver showed earlier this year with his illuminating study of televangelism and megachurches.

Conservative groups across the country promise the world—booting Boehner out of office, full Medicare benefits at half the cost, God-given riches for only $5 a month—but at the end of the day the only people who win are the consultants, politicians, and “preachers” who are lining their own pockets.

Zac Bears can be reached at and followed on Twitter @zac_bears.


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