Leaders of an anti-Donald Trump group that formed in 2016 promising to prevent Trump’s election apparently pocketed most of the money they raised, primarily from liberals that now comprise #TheResistance movement.
According to a report published today by The Daily Beast, The Democratic Coalition PAC’s expenditures reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reveal that between 50 percent and 90 percent of the half-million dollars they collected since 2016 was paid to staff members or consultants and lawyers with connections to the group.
The questionable expenditures were especially stark in 2016, when the coalition staff, led by liberal Democratic operative Scott Dworkin, received nearly all of the revenues, either personally or through a consulting company, according to FEC records.
Since then, The Daily Beast found that the cash changing hands to staffers and supporters – directly or indirectly — ranged from one-half to three-quarters of the money raised as the PAC struggled with a libel suit brought by a Trump supporter in North Dakota. That minor player in the president’s fundraising was accused by the coalition of having ties with Middle East terrorism. An undisclosed court settlement was reached in the case last year after the coalition spent $127,000 on legal fees.
The Democratic Coalition, a constant presence on Twitter, also specializes in securing small donations of less than $200, which are not reported to the FEC.
In an email response to The Daily Beast’s findings, Dworkin asserted that, “I don’t call myself a leader of any movement,”
But online and specifically on Twitter, Dworkin has asserted that he is the leader of “the nation’s largest grassroots anti-Trump organization,” and “the nation’s largest grassroots Resistance organization.”
Among Democratic campaign operatives, Dworkin has a decidedly mixed reputation, including claims that he has puffed up his resume.
Here, The Daily Beast weighs in forcefully:
The apparent self-dealing and large legal expenditures have left some donors to (The Democratic Coalition) angry with what they see as a waste of money and energy. It’s also left Democratic operatives worried that money is being sent to organizations that are engaged largely in self-promotion at a time when resources are needed for midterm election contests and sustained advocacy against Trump.
“He is conning people into giving him small-dollar donations so he can pay himself and sustain an organization that gains him credibility,” said one top party operative, who agreed to speak candidly about the Democratic Coalition on condition of anonymity. “It’s a f—ing abomination.”
To be clear, the “Wild West” that currently applies to federal campaign finance rules has led to numerous examples of PACs collecting money while facing virtually no accountability that the donations will go toward what is supposedly intended.
Democratic grifters are following the path set by, among others, Republican Sarah Palin, the former VP nominee, when she formed a PAC during the Obama administration.
A report from Open Secrets revealed that in the 2014 two-year election cycle Palin’s PAC raised $2.7 million dollars, but only contributed $150,000 of that money to GOP candidates, a donation rate of 5.5%.
Experts in campaign finance say conservative “scam PACs” that arose during the Obama years, specializing in “invisible” donations of $200 or less, have now morphed into equally unethical anti-Trump PACs on the Democratic side.
Tragically, current federal law places no limit on how much of a PAC’s cash can be diverted to staff, consultants or attorneys.
Last year the bipartisan FEC unanimously backed recommendations to Congress for new laws governing groups that exist solely to raise money and pay their own executives, but no such legislation has been considered on Capitol Hill.