How Breitbart Recruited a Bernie Sanders Activist to Suppress the Black Vote
“If you can’t stomach Trump, just don’t vote for the other people and don’t vote at all” was Bruce Carter’s refrain to voters in the summer of 2016. Carter, armed with vehicles wrapped in photo collages of famous black Republicans and speeches touting how Donald Trump’s business experience would benefit black communities, was an atypical fixture on the Trump campaign trail.
Just a few months earlier, Carter had been campaigning heavily for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and was the founder of the group Black Men for Bernie. According to a new Bloomberg scoop, this wasn’t a mere change of heart for Carter, but the result of a Breitbart News writer’s campaign to persuade him to switch sides and help elect Trump.
The writer, Dustin Stockton, courted Carter for weeks, originally under the guise of interviewing him for a story. Eventually, after showing him the anti-Hillary Clinton documentary “Clinton Cash,” and spending hours hanging out at the Democratic National Convention, he dropped the act, “signing Carter up for a 10-week blitz aimed at convincing black voters in key states to support the Republican real estate mogul, or simply sit out the election,” Bloomberg reports.
Once convinced, Carter was then paid to start a group called Trump for Urban Communities.
The group claimed to be independent of the Trump campaign, which Carter’s recollections contradict. “If there was coordination,” Bloomberg writes, “election law dictates that any contributions to groups such as his must fall within individual limits: no more than $2,700 for a candidate. One supporter far exceeded that cap, giving about $100,000 to Carter’s efforts.”
The group’s activities and funding in coordination with the Trump campaign may have violated election and campaign finance laws, as it never disclosed its spending to the Federal Election Commission. Carter says he believed he was working for the Trump campaign, and because of that it wasn’t his responsibility to do the reporting. One expert told Bloomberg there is enough evidence for the FEC to open an investigation, though there’s no evidence one has started.
The relationship between the Trump campaign and Trump for Urban Communities ended badly, with Carter’s backers failing to fund a promised new project after the election.
There’s also the question of whether Stockton’s work persuading Carter was a campaign donation in and of itself. According to Stockton, the plan was a valuable one, and Carter’s work paid off: “Trump vastly outperformed the projection models in the 12 areas Bruce was targeting” in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, Stockton told Bloomberg. “In Philadelphia,” the article continues, “where Carter spent much of his time, Clinton won about 35,000 fewer votes than Obama did in 2012, and that drop was primarily in majority-black wards. Those ballots alone could have cut Trump’s victory margin in Pennsylvania by more than half.”
Stockton himself left Breitbart after colleagues told him his work with Carter could be a conflict of interest. Meanwhile, Carter is beginning a new project he calls The People’s Ticket, aimed at holding both Democrats and Republicans accountable for their promises to black communities.