How Sarah PAC, Rick Santorum And Others May Be Duping Conservative Donors

Image via breitbart.com

Image via breitbart.com

Recently, a number of websites published claims that donations to ALS as part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” were mostly used for executive salaries and overhead, and not for the purposes of finding a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people pour a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise awareness of ALS and drive donations to the ALS Association, has raised $111.6 million dollars as of yesterday.

These misleading accusations came from a variety of unscrupulous sources, including at least one “liberal” writer by the name of Lou Colagiovanni on his shock-jock styled website ruthless-politics.com. Fortunately, snopes.com stepped in and set the record straight on August 29th about how exactly the funds are used.

The claim made in the email above, that 73% of donations fund executive salaries and overhead, is demonstrably false. Charity Navigator’s breakdown of the ALS Association’s finances for the fiscal year ending January 2013 shows that 72.4% of the ALS Association’s budget during that period was used for program expenses — that is, the programs and services the ALS Association delivers to the ALS community according to its mission, such as professional and public education, research into ALS treatments and cures, and patient and community services. Of the remaining budget, 11% went to administrative expenses and 16.5% to fundraising expenses. It appears that someone confused the term “program expenses” with “overhead” and mistakenly assumed the former represented money spent on bureaucracy rather than the vital ALS-related services provided by the ALS Association. (Source)

Furthermore, the ALSA posted their own article the next day debunking these misleading claims by going into more detail about exactly how their funds are used.

However, despite all of the false and negative attention given to the legitimate and noble cause of finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, there are indeed organizations out there that are lining their pockets with people’s intentions – both good or bad depending on how you stand politically.

This little revelation and screenshot was brought to my attention by the page “Stupid Things Conservatives Say” and addresses contributions made to Sarah PAC, the political action committee run by none other than the Quitta From Wasilla and occasional Fox News contributor, Sarah Palin. While the amount of money taken in is but a fraction of what ALSA has taken in via charitable contributions, Opensecrets.org gives us a pretty good look into where most of the funds from misguided, self-described patriots are going. Hint: it’s not to political candidates.

Opensecrets.org screenshot via the page "Stupid Things Conservatives Say" on Facebook.

Opensecrets.org screenshot via the page “Stupid Things Conservatives Say” on Facebook.

$105,000 out of $2,247,666 spent went to candidates, all of which were obviously Republicans. That’s less than 5% of all funds that were spent on various expenses, and they still had just short of a million bucks in the bank at the date of last report.

So where did all of that money go? According to the expense reports, the vast majority of it went to administrative costs and fundraising. The top recipient or vendor for Sarah PAC was a fundraising group out of Virginia called HSP Direct which received just short of $670,000. HSP Direct boasts of clients like Freedomworks, Rick Santorum and even Citizens United which was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that allowed for unlimited corporate money in politics. HSP Direct was also used in 2010 to purchase copies of her own book (which would boost ratings) to mail autographed copies of “Going Rogue” to supporters who donated $100 or more to her PAC, according to ABC News. In fact, on their client page, Rick Santorum praises them for knowing the conservative donor base and how to get money out of the base. Tim Crawford, the treasurer of Sarah PAC, raves about how they produced “stellar results” which helped their PAC “support conservative candidates and their campaigns at a critical time.”

The total expenses for fundraising came out to over one million dollars versus a little over 2 million received. In comparison, Freedomworks received about 50% more in contributions than Sarah PAC did but spent about a quarter of what she did in fundraising expenses at $253,300. To put this in ratios, Sarah PAC brought in $3 for every $1 spent in fundraising versus Freedomworks which brought in about $12 for every $1 spent.

Now check this out – former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum’s super PAC “Patriot Voices” took in $1,362,995, but only donated $13,094 to candidates. Again, where’s the rest of that money going?

Or how about former U.S. Congressman Allen West’s “Guardian Fund,” which took in $4,853,138 and donated all of $20,000 to candidates? Over $3.1 million out of $3.4 million dollars in expenses were spent on fundraising?

How can organizations take in so much money in donations, have such high expenses and contribute so little money to candidates? Well, we don’t know for sure without looking directly at their books and the vendors that took the money – but there’s a good possible answer which makes a lot of sense to me.

What’s the one thing Allen West, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum have in common? All three of them are former elected officials with name recognition who are eager to keep up their presence online and on TV. Fundraising which puts your name out there online, over the phone or on TV and running a super PAC does that – without you having to spend a penny of your own money. In other words, free advertising which keeps their brand relevant in conservative media, which in turn keeps donations flowing in from the people who lap up all the cliché talking points every time they write a book or show up on a Fox evening TV show.

It’s not illegal like promising a product and failing to deliver anything as the owner of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children allegedly did, or violating campaign finance. So long as they contribute some small amount to a few candidates here and there, they assume most of their contributors won’t notice – and the ones who do won’t make too much of a stink. Then again, if you actually believed Sarah Palin or Allen West believed in anything other than staying relevant, you may want to turn off Fox News.


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  • kim dyer

    *sigh* I just wanted to slap one person who said they didn’t even want to know what “other program expenses” were. I told them to look at Stephen Hawking and image how expensive the equipment he uses to function is. I then told them to imagine how someone who ISN’T a world class scientist would pay for it. ALS foundation has a 4 star rating from charity navigator.

  • Stephen Barlow

    It’s always about the money with Republicans. McDonnell in Virginia is likely to get a degade in a cage for graft and lying about selling political favors for CASH. Bridgegate AND the Sandy Relief Scam run by Chris Christie in NJ, Cuomo, although he’s a Democrat shut down his corruption committee just as Rick perry abused power to do so. Scot Walker and Rick Scott have both been investigated got fraud ion office, although in THOSE heavily RED states, investigations are hard to mount because the whole of the political machine is RED.

    Let’s see if their replacement Governor’s put these thieves under a macro microscope and seriously investigate ALL there personal finances.

  • Eg Kbbs

    Well, it is a matter of record that Pallin used her political funds to set up her daughter in a high paying job with no discernable product produced.

    And I seriously wonder how many of the SarahPAC funds go to buying fancy earrings and dresses for Sarah.