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Campaign Spending Shows Political Ties, Self-Dealing

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Posted on Mar 29, 2012
Stuart Conner (CC-BY)

By Kim Barker and Al Shaw, ProPublica

(Page 2)

On the Democratic side, NGP VAN, a company that sells software that helps with fundraising and FEC compliance, has done work for both the Obama campaign and two super PACs backing Obama. The Obama campaign has paid NGP VAN $130,000; the two super PACs have paid it less than $17,000.

Beyond potential coordination, the analysis done by ProPublica also showed how some who have set up super PACs are directing donors’ cash into their own pockets.

GOP strategist Nick Ryan, a former aide to Rick Santorum, for instance, started his direct-mail and telemarketing firm, Global Intermediate LLC, shortly after launching the pro-Santorum super PAC, the Red White and Blue Fund. Global Intermediate is now the second-biggest vendor for Red White and Blue, earning almost $1.9 million so far. While Ryan couldn’t be reached for comment, the super PAC’s spokesman, Stuart Roy, acknowledged in an email to the Los Angeles Times in February that Ryan’s participation with Global Intermediate was “no big mystery, they have done our phones and mail programs in multiple states (very effectively, I might add).”

Candidates are prohibited from using campaign funds for personal use and must pay “fair market value” if they hire companies run by relatives or other insiders, but super PACs, like regular PACs, have no such restrictions. For years, the FEC has asked Congress to expand the ban on candidates using campaign funds for personal use to PACs. So far, Congress has not acted.

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“My standard sound-bite advice is ‘donor beware,’ when giving to any political action committee,” said Paul S. Ryan, of the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center.

Some insider transactions are on a smaller scale. A man named Gary Franchi Jr. runs both Revolution PAC, a super PAC known for its Ron Paul action figures, and Restore the Republic, a social networking site for Paul followers. Since last July, Revolution PAC has been paying Restore the Republic more than $1,700 a month for office rent. When asked if the office had telephones, desks and computers, Franchi replied: “Oh, yeah.”

But the office turned out to actually be a box in a Northbrook, Ill., UPS store. Franchi did not return follow-up calls for comment.

               


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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 31, 2012 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

What is acutely overwhelming is the hundreds of millions of dollars
that has now been pumped into the campaigns for the various
elections, particularly the one for POTUS.  And there are hundreds of
millions more to be spent.  Doesn’t it strike anyone that in a season
of horrid financial woes and the financial industry as a corruption like
a carbuncle in our society, that there is that much money in a kind of
floating world that does not go towards helping to alleviate the utter
stress this country is in?  It is incomprehensible. 

So, where does the money go?  To whom does it go?  Are taxes being
collected on those to whom the money goes?  Would it be a real irony if
much of it went back to the rich ones who are shoveling it into the
campaign process through the advertising companies that they own? 
Then because of the tax breaks, they pay hardly a dime of taxes on all
the hundreds of millions that is being spent and ostensibly earned.  The
vicious cycle in spades?  Oh we the people are so fucked.

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By gittothepoint, March 30, 2012 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

Kind of “gives credence” to the common understanding that elitists & corporatists’
money run our political system, but far from clarifying exactly HOW this process
plays out.  Perhaps a graphical representation would help those of us who are
more “image” oriented (like the detectives do on their cork/chalk boards in the
squad room).  The real Q here, one that has haunted me for as long as I can
remember, is how much money goes to the television/cable companies and how
that whole scenario is structured.  I’m under the impression it is in the tens of
millions of $$$‘s.  How do the “OWNERS” of these enterprises benefit and what
kind of POWER do they wield?  I know I would like to put together a 30 second
commercial exposing some of the blatant bulls*%t Romney & Obama spews out,
but I don’t have a chance in h*&l of getting 30 seconds on any network.  No one
(not any of you gifted journalists/authors) bothers to enlighten the public (the
HERD) as to the kind of $$$ that goes to the networks.

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