Report: Arizona-based website took nearly $500,000 in donations but didn’t turn out support for tea party or candidates
A website run out of Arizona, ostensibly to support the so-called tea party movement, is under scrutiny after a local news organization dug into their finances and ownership, only to find what some may characterize as a remarkable scam.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure forms, JoinTheTeaParty.us took in approximately $469,000 in donations this year and spent roughly half its budget on marketing, with the rest going to distinctly non-political avenues.
In fact, according to CBS 5 in Phoenix, there’s no evidence the group spent so much as a dime to promote tea party candidates or related events.
FEC forms pulled by CBS affiliate show the group spent nearly $200,000 on search engine optimization and Google sponsorship, along with Facebook ads promoting their website. Submitting a Google search for “tea party” returned with the site atop the list of results.
They even advertised the site on Craigslist, with an impassioned appeal to “patriots” who may be sympathetic to conservative causes. Ironically enough, the ad states numerous times that this group in particular is a “marketing campaign” with a fundraising goal of $500,000 per week.
The domain is owned by Todd Cefaratti, an Arizona businessman with a background in data collection. His other business specializes in mining contact information and reselling the leads to clients in the reverse mortgage industry.
“Thousands” of donors have given their personal contact information and credit card numbers to the tea party site, according to CBS.
In spite of the obvious political implications of calling a group part of the tea party, which is not an official organization or political party, Cefaratti’s website is run by “Stop This Insanity, Inc.,” a 501(c)4 organization — meaning, they are not a solely political organization and they’re exempt from federal income taxes.
Unlike 501(c)3 groups, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permits these organizations to actively participate in politics so long as it is not the group’s primary function. That appears to be the case with this group.
In keeping with the very letter of the tax code, the site stipulates that it is “a non-partisan, non-profit social welfare organization dedicated to furthering the common good and general welfare of the people of the United States.”
Confronted by a reporter with the Phoenix CBS affiliate, Cefaratti refused to answer questions, driving away in a black SUV with a custom license plate that read, “TPARTY1”.
The CBS investigation, which credited an unnamed east coast activist who hit the telephones with concerns about the group, appears to owe its origins to the conservative political forum Free Republic.
Click here to read the CBS report.
Hope Hicks may have lied under oath that she wasn’t present when Trump and Cohen discussed Stormy Daniels
Newly unsealed documents in the campaign finance case where Michael Cohen pleaded guilty may provide evidence that Hope Hicks lied to Congress under oath.
According to the court documents, President Donald Trump, Hope Hicks and Cohen were all in communication about the hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Not only did Hicks discuss the payments with both men, she exchanged text messages and emails on the topic.
Anti-vaxxer threatened to kill Democratic congresswoman over vaccine bill: report
A Pentagon contractor has been charged with threatening to kill a U.S. Congresswoman over a bill that would require all public schools receiving federal funds to ensure all children are vaccinated.
The Daily Beast reports the court filing does not name the lawmaker, but they have determined it is Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). It says Darryl Albert Varnum of Westminster, Maryland is the person named in the criminal complaint filed in federal court.
White House aides fear Trump believes House vote against impeachment means it’s never going to happen: report
A proposal to start impeachment hearings that failed in the House on Wednesday led Donald Trump to optimistically proclaim that his presidency is safe at his North Carolina rally last night. But his proclamation has some White House officials worried the president really believes he is out of the woods.
According to a report at Politico, close aides to the president worry that his comment that "we have all this [impeachment] behind us," may be based on an unfounded notion by Trump about how Congress works.
Speaking at his campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., Trump boasted to the crowd, "I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I’ve ever been involved in: the resolution -- how stupid is that -- on impeachment. I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us, the vote was a totally lopsided 332-95-1.”