November 10, 2004
The College Republican Senior Scam

One of the things that I never got around to blogging about in the runup to the election was a little fundraising scandal that's percolating in the ranks of the national College Republicans. Here's an update to that story.

Officials with the national group, based in Washington, D.C., did not return phone calls seeking a response. But in a memo last month to state officers across the country, [College Republican National Committee chairman Eric] Hoplin urged them to stay quiet about newspaper articles detailing the group's fund-raising tactics.

Hoplin wrote that media accounts of the fund raising are "full of lies and distortions" orchestrated by the "liberal media" and aimed at hurting President Bush's campaign just before Election Day.

"We need the story to go away, which it will ... but only if we all withhold our comments," Hoplin wrote in the memo, which was confirmed by several state officers.

You know, I can't help but think that orders from the top to duck the media is the sort of thing that radiates a sense of the jitters. I mean, wouldn't you rather have all of your lieutenants expressing full confidence in your operations. And please spare me the "liberal media" claptrap. Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed are all College Republican alumni. These guys can get an audience with Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to tell their story any time they want.

In Texas, a former vice chairman of that state's College Republicans called the fund raising "morally repugnant" and called for Hoplin and the group's treasurer, Paul Gourley, to resign.

"Preying on the elderly to make money is unconscionable and should not be tolerated by any member of the College Republicans or the Republican Party," said Mark McCaig, a Texas A&M University student who stepped down about six weeks ago as vice chairman of the Texas Federation of College Republicans but remains a Republican. "Like many others, I am embarrassed to have been associated with these individuals."

Reached Monday, McCaig said he believes the CRNC could raise money successfully without misleading people.

"I think the programs of the College Republicans should stand on their own. I think there's a product there that people would be willing to invest in," he said. "I don't think it's necessary to have to funnel it through a bunch of front organizations and make a bunch of unfounded claims."

McCaig said the group's spending also should be reviewed.

"When you see tens of millions of dollars spent on fund raising ... that's insane," he said.

But Sarah Floerke, the current Texas College Republicans chairwoman, said McCaig was in a dispute with the organization's leadership when he stepped down and might be biased. She had not heard about the questions surrounding the group's fund raising, other than in Hoplin's memo, she added.

"I'm sure I'm going to find out a lot more at the meeting," she said. "I think the College Republican National Committee did an excellent job fund raising, and they were able to send out College Republicans across the nation."

Mark McCaig forwarded this link to me. I've never met him, so I can't truly judge his motives here, but it seems to me that the odds that he's simply concerned that an organization he's invested his time and energy in is doing something bad are at least as good as the odds that he's just full of sour grapes. And you know, even if his motives are not as pure as a mountain spring, that doesn't mean he's wrong.

The original story is here (thanks to Linkmeister for the reminder). There's something about this whole thing that puzzles me.

About $9 million of the College Republicans' reported spending this year appeared to go into fund-raising expenses, according to a Times analysis of reports filed with the IRS.

About $313,000, roughly 3 percent, went for travel, convention expenses and "hospitality." About $210,000 went to payroll expenses, helping pay for campus organizers who have been drumming up support for the GOP ticket among young people.

The large amount of money devoted to fund raising, and the small amount for political activities, is unusual among the top ranks of the burgeoning field of so-called 527 independent political groups.

Of the $20 million the anti-Bush group spent, according to its filings, 93 percent went to media, advertising, marketing and polling.

Of the $13.7 million spent by the anti-John Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 90 percent went to media, advertising and media consulting.

What were they raising all that money for? It can't possibly be that fundraising itself accounted for 90+% of their expenses, and if somehow it did, what would be the point of it? I don't think it's a great leap to think there might be some funny accounting going on. That would also explain the stonewalling. With this much money involved, if there is anything hinky going on, someone is going to get tripped up by the taxes of it sooner or later. We'll see what happens.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 10, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

You're welcome. ;)

Posted by: Linkmeister on November 10, 2004 12:17 PM

Just more of that Bush/ Republican honor, integrity, and values.

Lie, cheat, etc. and then dodge accountability.

Do these assholes not even listen to the Dear Leader who's been traipsing around the country for over 3 years now, loudly proclaiming how he's AND I QUOTE:

"Changing the culture from one that says 'If it feels good, do it to one where people take responsibility for what they do'.
-George W. Bush.

Hear that boys? You're accountable for what you do! But, like the Shrub, you're all talk and bullshit when it comes to actually standing up and BEING responsible.

Posted by: marty on November 10, 2004 2:41 PM

Mr. Audit is going to want to know!!

Posted by: VeniVedi on November 10, 2004 2:45 PM

An evil little gnome inside of me says that if a 90-year-old woman empties her bank account to re-elect George W. Bush and now has to scrounge, he doesn't feel very sorry for her.

I apologize for his nastiness, but the fact is, if the money had been going to the Bush reelection efforts, these seniors would still be in the same situation - as would our country.

Posted by: BLT on November 10, 2004 3:18 PM

Ya know, before all the Lefties who frequent this blog start shrieking how this confirms their worldview that all of us Republicans are just repugnant assholes, they might want to wait for more facts than this:

Many North Carolina seniors have given to the group more than 50 times since January, sometimes writing several checks in a single day and giving thousands of dollars in total. When asked about their giving, many of the seniors had little understanding of how much they had donated or where the money was going.

Many? More than 50 times? Several checks? Many of the seniors?

There's some very detailed reporting.

Good to see the commenters here collect plenty of information before pronouncing moral judgment on all Republicans. Keep this up, and Cohen may be wanting to add some of this crew to his metro/state lineup!

And no Charles, I'm not talking about you. I realize you're only dispassionately reporting this bit of news. Well, mostly dispassionately anyway (hard to imagine there's not a little sense of excitement implied by that "Scandalized!" subject heading). :)

Posted by: kevin whited on November 10, 2004 11:10 PM

I suggest you look at who the direct-mail company is owned by, and what ties it has to the people at the top of the CR. What do you want to bet that they're one and the same?

Posted by: precinct1233 on November 11, 2004 1:03 PM

Posted by: Joe Sylvester on March 4, 2005 10:04 PM