It’s Mostly Scams–And Still The Tea Party Has More Operational Money

Amanda Marcotte has a great piece on conservative opinion leaders finally stepping up and becoming even slightly upset at the tens or even hundreds of millions being straight up scammed off of scared conservative voters by flimflam artists like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.

This isn’t a new development, of course. Richard Viguerie and his ilk have been pulling off this con for years.

That’s not astonishing. What’s truly troubling is just how much fuel is still left in the tanks of conservative PACs even after all the graft is taken into account. The money in outsider conservative activist networks still dwarfs that of liberal organizations in spite of the fact that liberal organizations actually, for the most part, use the money being donated to them more or less for the purpose it was intended. While everyone in outsider politics has increasingly moved to a petition-and-clickbait model of fundraising, there’s little concern that the heads organizations like MoveOn or Democracy for America are making off with Aunt Millie’s well-intentioned checks. Liberal organizations tend to run lean operations that put their money where their messaging is.

But they’re still getting massively outspent by conservative organizations even after all the fraud is taken into account.

That’s partly due to differential priorities in the big donor bases: big liberal donors love to give money to candidates directly for a variety of cultural reasons, while big conservative donors are more inclined to build long-term infrastructure. But it’s also a function of how much gobsmacking money the conservative plutocratic and corporate world has to play with. When Charles and David Koch can pull billions out of their couch cushions, conservative con artists can afford to scam all their small donors out of their grocery budgets.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.