Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) managed to raise more than $150,000 for his anti-Donald Trump The Resistance Political Action Committee, but most of that money was spent on his own political interests as he explores a possible Senate run.
The Florida Democrat has tried to reinvent himself after his 2016 bid for U.S. Senate imploded thanks in part to domestic violence allegations, and he launched his "Trump Dump" project the following August to "help end the Trump presidency" through legislative action, boycotts and organized "Days of Resistance [on] the 20th of each month (inauguration anniversary)," reported The Daily Beast.
"If you liked me as your Congressman with Guts, then you'll love me as your Lawyer with Guts," he said in September 2017. "We're going to crowdfund investigations into Trump, we're going to file lawsuits, and we're going to make a whole lot of noise. Most importantly, we're going to defeat the Cheeto-in-Chief."
Hundreds of small donations made their way to The Resistance PAC, which Federal Election Commission records show raised $150,695 by the end of 2017 -- but Grayson admitted that the fundraising committee's promised actions were were "minimal and basically abandoned."
"It did not take off in the way that I was hoping," Grayson told The Daily Beast. "We weren't getting the kind of response that we wanted to get, it was not a successful organizing effort, so over time, we let it go."
Instead the money went mostly on web services and additional fundraising vendors who helped with Grayson's unsuccessful attempt to return to Congress, but the former lawmaker denies engaging in deceptive messaging and claims he doesn't remember the PAC raising that much money.
"The leadership PAC complied meticulously with the law, and your innuendo that some hypothetical donor might have been somehow misled simply has no basis," Grayson said. "There is no practice, or policy, or obligation of any kind that a leadership PAC indicates or discloses which candidate has that leadership PAC."
Government watchdogs say the former congressman's fundraising activity may not be illegal, but the PAC could have violated regulations if it failed to report payments to vendors for the 2018 campaign.
"They're essentially slush funds for politicians, and they have a lot of leeway. And you get into these thorny questions of what is actually helping their campaign," said Robert Maguire, research director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Rules should be in place to give donors the information they need about who they are giving money to."