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Warning: Not All The Scammers & Grifters Are Republicans

Katie Sponsler, Virginia progressive

I'm betting the Democrats will prevail in Virginia on November 2, not because McAuliffe is worth a bucket of spit, but because Youngkin-- and Trump-- are so much worse. The establishment Democrats want to protect their House majority but, literally, do not want to win more seats, not even seats where Biden beat Trump last year in which progressives are running! How is that possible? If they wind up with a super-majority-- and they are 5 seats away (the 5 seats where Biden beat Trump)-- they would start passing more progressive legislation. That would be awkward for the state Senate, where there are several conservative Democrats-- think Manchin-Sinema wing-- who don't want to vote for progressive legislation, so... you know how that goes.

Of the 55 Democratic-held seats, all 55 were won by Biden and the closest was by 5.58 points (HD-12 in Blacksburg). So the incumbents seem pretty safe, although virtually all the money the DLCC is spending in Virginia is going to incumbent protect. The DLCC asked Biden and Obama for endorsements in 21 districts (18 incumbents-- the one in Blacksburg not included, by the way) + just 3 challengers. Both Biden and Obama complied exactly. Now, keep in mind there are 5 seats with Republican incumbents that Biden won of the 45 GOP districts--HD-66 (Biden +10.31%), HD-27 (Biden +8.31%), HD-100 (Biden +6.74%), HD-62 (Biden +4.06%) and HD-84 (Biden +2.93%). The DLCC got the Biden/Obama endorsements for the Dems running in HDs 27, 100, and 84; they are the 3 oldest of the 5 challengers; 2 are conservative Democrats and 1 (HD-84) is an actual Republican who managed to get the Democratic nomination!

Katie Sponsler in HD-66 has the best chance to flip being in the district that voted the most heavily Democratic last year; but... she’s a Bernie progressive, and was therefore left out. Same for Jasmine Gore in HD-62, a Black, previously elected Mayor of Hopewell, who is also on the progressive end of the spectrum. The Virginia political establishment and the DLCC have no interest in either winning. Nice, huh? Blue America has endorsed 5 progressives, including Sponsler, and you can contribute to their campaigns here, on our 2022 state legislative ActBlue page or by clicking ion the thermometer above.

This morning, Blue Tent sent out an e-mail explaining how they've been looking into the shady Democratic committees, particularly the aforementioned DLCC, as well as our crooked old friends, the DCCC and the DSCC and the DNC. They wanted to share what they've been learning. "These groups, they wrote, "move hundreds of millions of dollars-- often with very mixed results." All 4 have serious problem "and most donors can find better ways to give. The top super PACS aren’t all that better. We’re still finalizing our research briefs in this area, but here’s a quick preview of what we’re finding."

First, none of the big Democratic-aligned super PACs are very transparent. They don’t say much about how they operate or provide metrics to judge their effectiveness. Giving to these groups requires a leap of faith that they know what they’re doing. Even <>BlackPAC<>, one of the few super PACs we like, makes claims about impact that are hard to verify.
Second, to the degree we can gauge the impact of leading super PACs, the picture looks very mixed. In our recently released brief on House Majority PAC, for example, we explore its role in the surprising losses in the 2020 House races and we ask why HMP has been led by Robby Mook, who made major mistakes when he ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. HMP raised and spent $165 million in 2020; only 18% of the candidates it backed won their races. We write in our brief that a “detailed analysis of HMP’s strategies and leadership raises questions about the organization’s competence and effectiveness.”
Third, nearly all the big super PACs are close to the Democratic establishment and its consulting class-- people like Mook. Most are heavily funded by a relatively small cast of party mega-donors. For a great example of this, take a look at our new research brief on Emily’s List/Women Vote! You don’t have to be on the party’s left flank to worry that so much electoral spending power is controlled by usual suspects; that’s a recipe for stale thinking and conflicts of interest.
Fourth, and finally, giving to super PACs usually doesn’t make sense for donors who seek the most bang for their buck. As we explain in a recent blog post, political candidates by law get the lowest rate “when buying radio and TV advertising time up to 60 days before a general election and 45 days before a primary. PACs have no such advantage, and as a result, spend several times as much to buy the same amount of television ads.” That’s a big drawback, given how most PAC spending goes to advertising. It's generally better to give directly to individual campaigns.

I also got an e-mail yesterday from what looks like a front group for the DCCC, et al, Protect The Vote Political Action Committee. When I dug down into the fine print, there was a claim that Protect the Vote PAC is a Democratic organization on the front lines of providing critical support to federal campaigns for President, U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Yeah, that doesn't sound very grassroots. And when I dug deeper I found another page called "Protect The Vote," claiming that there e-mails are "Paid for by the Republican National Committee. Not Authorized By Any Candidate Or Candidate's Committee." Presumably they have the same name and aren't the same organization. The lack of transparency makes it hard to figure out who's who; but none of them look any good.

The reason I was interested was because Virginia isn't the only place with an election on November 2. There is a special election in Ohio's 15th congressional district to replace Steve Stivers, who retired to take a job that Trump isn't involved with. It is a carefully gerrymandered seat, designed to elect Republicans (PVI is R+9), primarily south of Columbus. Last year, Trump won the district 56.3% to 42.2%. Stiver was reelected with an even bigger margin-- 58.3% to 39.7%. Of the 12 counties in the district only one is blue and one is a swing county. The other 10 are overwhelmingly red-- and unvaccinated. The biggest county is Franklin but it only contains a portion of Franklin and the most accurate information on that portion is that Stivers won in 2020 by a tiny margin.

  • Vinton Co.- 76.7% Trump (35% fully vaccinated)

  • Clinton Co.- 75.3% Trump (42% fully vaccinated)

  • Fayette Co.- 75.0% Trump (39% fully vaccinated)

  • Perry Co.- 74.1% Trump (36% fully vaccinated)

  • Morgan Co.- 73.5% Trump (37% fully vaccinated)

  • Pickaway Co.- 72.3% Trump (45% fully vaccinated)

  • Hocking Co.- 70.3% Trump (43% fully vaccinated)

  • Madison Co.- 69.6% Trump (45% fully vaccinated)

  • Ross Co.- 66.8% Trump (45% fully vaccinated)

  • Fairfield Co.- 61.0% Trump (51% fully vaccinated)

  • Athens Co.- 41.6% Trump (46% fully vaccinated)

What does that have to do with anything. Well, this shady-looking Protect the Vote PAC is asking for money based on winning this impossible district. "[W]e need to stop Trump's momentum," they wrote, "by winning this congressional special election in Ohio's 15th district. The good news is we have a strong candidate in Ohio who can stop his momentum dead in its tracks. Democrat Allison Russo knows how to flip seats and win tough races. We need to have her back. Donald Trump will have coal lobbyist Mike Carey's. He already dumped in $350,000 for him during the Primary and is poised to do more in the coming days. Election Day is in 11 days! Donate here and help us save this majority-saving campaign... With the House majority and our legislative agenda hanging on by a slim thread-- we need to step up and do whatever it takes to send Allison to Washington."

What it would take is God's intervention, not cash to the Protect the Vote PAC. That doesn't stop them from asking for money 3 more times in the e-mail. And the money goes not to Allison but, of course, to the grifters from Protect the Vote PAC, who may or may not spend a few pennies on Allison but will surely keep almost all of it for themselves. In 2020, they raised $369,754, gave not a single penny to any candidates and spent $52,044 on independent expenditure for candidates, mostly Biden ($9,814) and Gary Peters ($6,567), plus small amounts on 14 mostly conservative establishment candidates who all lost, plus $1,357 on Warnock and Ossoff. The rest they kept or used for their own overheard-- like salaries, consultants, fundraising, etc. Everything about them screams SCAM and GRIFTER!

So far this year they've raised around $300,000 and I was unable to find any account of how they've spent it. But I will.

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