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Free Me From the Political Drama

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tea-party-vs-establishment-toonA recent article in the Charlotte Observer’s Campaign Tracker indicated that the Tea Party was on a “suicide mission in NC” via it’s headline.  As the President of the Charlotte Tea Party, I naturally have an interest in reviewing such statements.

Apparently “the tea party has named its top 2014 target in North Carolina: U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger.”

Interesting.  I hadn’t gotten the memo.

In all seriousness, I love the seemingly perpetual notion that there is “a” tea party.  You know the meme.  We’re all racists and funded by the Koch Brothers.  Our weekly teleconference is on Tuesdays…

Back on point, the specific group named in the article as gunning for Rep. Pittenger is the “Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC”.  Never heard of them?  Me neither.

The organization’s message to Pittenger: “You have failed to honor your commitment to your constituents and the values they entrusted you to uphold,” wrote Dan Backer, the group’s treasurer and general counsel. “All leaders must face and accept accountability for their choices. You chose to disregard your pledge to these American voters and now must be held accountable.”

Well, I can’t say I disagree.  Rep. Pittenger was a virtual ping pong ball on the issue of defunding Obamacare.  He was against it before he was for it before he was against it again.  In the end, he was one of 87 Republicans in the House to join with the Democrats to end the government shutdown.

So far so good with the Leadership Fund.  Since I had never heard of the group, I thought it would be interesting to check their finances and history of candidate support. They must be something big.  After all, even Team Pittenger decided to use their threat of a challenge in a recent fundraising letter.

According to OpenSecrets.org, so far for the 2014 election cycle, they have contributed a total of just $18,500 to six different House candidates.  One of those candidates is Robert Pittenger, to whom they donated $1,000.

Seriously?  Wasn’t expecting that!

Yep, on June 12, 2013, TPLF PAC felt so compelled to support Pittenger that they gave him a grand.

(Edit:  As I’m writing this, I just learned that the fund has asked Pittenger for the money back.  Fair enough.  For a man who spent 2.3 million of his own money, that’s gotta sting!)

Diving farther into their financials, the groups legitimacy comes into question.

In 2012, the TPLF PAC spent $951,097 but only donated $57,500 to candidates and only spent $154,172 on independent expenditures.  Where did the rest of the money go?  $731,383.64  went to “other federal operating expenditures”.  That’s a lot of overhead.

So far in 2013, for the 2014 cycle, they have raised $1,377,023 and spent $1,386,195.  $74,500 went to federal candidates and $25,783 to independent expenditures.  You guessed it, $1,246,730.92 has gone to “other federal operating expenditures”.

Now, perhaps I’m totally misunderstanding “other expenditures”, but in searching through actual checks paid out, it seems the bulk of their spending is going to outside fundraising organizations and list generation companies.  There is a significant gap between money raised and money spent on candidates and PACs.

This year, I see payments of $9,000 per month going to DB Capitol Strategies, PLLC.  DB is owned by Dan Backer, as mentioned earlier, the group’s treasurer and general counsel.  Pretty sweet.

So, ok.  Let’s check out Dan Backer.  He must be a rabid conservative in order to be running such an organization.

Well, according to the left’s ThinkProgress (which can always be counted on for checking out conservative groups):

“And while Backer laments that the “only sound these establishment sell-outs seem to hear is the sound of money from crony capitalist pals,” a review of his own donations finds his own giving has been anything but focused on electing only true conservatives. In addition to a $425 donation to Mitt Romney, Backer gave $250 to the leadership PAC for former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) — nine months after Brown made it clear that he was not a Tea Partier and dismissed the Tea Party movement’s role in his 2010 special election win.”

“Most of Backer’s recent donations, however, went to two PACs focused not on conservative causes but on college fraternities and sororities. He gave $2,305 to ZETEPAC, a PAC aimed only at electing Zeta Psi fraternity alumni to political office. The PAC’s recipients have included Democratic California State Senator Alex Padilla and Democratic New York City Councilman Dan Garodnick. He also gave $2,000 to Fraternity & Sorority PAC, a committee which supports candidates “who support the objectives of fraternity life” — including Democrats like Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — all who whom voted for the Affordable Care Act.”

So man alive.  What do we make of all this?

Here’s where my gut is.

A fake Tea Party organization dedicated to enriching those who run it gave a token donation to Robert Pittenger in June.  It’s one of only six donations thusfar in their reporting cycle.  How they came on board in the first place is anyone’s guess.

Fast forward less than six months, and this group realizes that Pittenger wasn’t necessarily as with them as they thought.  They ask for the money back and place him in the crosshairs of a “tea party vendetta”.

A press release on the matter goes viral with the main stream media and Pittenger is able to utilize the non-existent threat as a motivational tool in a fundraising letter.

Looks like a win-win here.  This group gains some exposure as “taking on the establishment” even though it’s pretty clear they don’t really do much.  Perhaps it will translate into even more money for their “other expenditures”.

Pittenger on the other hand gets to use the worthless hit piece as a catalyst to fundraise even more dollars against the perceived threat.

All in all, the political class seems to win here.  The people who fall for this contrived drama?  Not so much.

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