- Darren McCollester/Getty Images
- David Bossie, a former Trump deputy campaign manager, has raised millions of dollars by falsely claiming that his group, the Presidential Coalition, was spending that money for pro-Trump conservative candidates, according to a report from Axios and the Campaign Legal Center.
- Of the $15.4 million the Presidential Coalition reportedly spent in 2017 and 2018, only 3% of those funds actually went to conservative candidates, with the majority of the money instead being used for fundraising and administrative costs for the Coalition, as well as for Bossie’s six-figure salary, according to the report.
- Most of the donors were small-dollar and elderly people who believed that they were helping President Donald Trump through the donations, according to the report.
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A former Trump deputy campaign manager reportedly scammed small-dollar and elderly donors into thinking they were contributing to pro-Trump conservative candidates, with the majority of those funds actually benefiting his group, according to a report from Axios and the campaign finance watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC).
That former manager, David Bossie, formerly faced scrutiny after making comments on “Fox & Friends” last year that Democratic strategist Joel Payne, his black co-guest, was “out of his cotton-picking mind” – leading to his two-week suspension as a contributor on the network.
Now, according to the report, Bossie is back in the hot seat: of the $15.4 million his group the Presidential Coalition reportedly spent in 2017 and 2018, just 3% of those funds went directly to political activity – despite the group claiming to donors that the money would be used for conservative political candidates.
The majority of the funds, rather, went toward fundraising and administrative costs for the Coalition, as well as for Bossie’s six-figure salary, according to Axios and CLC.
- Fox News
Most of the donors to the Coalition were small-dollar and elderly people who believed that they were helping the president with their donations, according to dozens of mostly retired donors who spoke to Axios. Wallace Payne, an 86-year-old Republican from Minnesota, told the outlet: “I’m old and easily fooled I guess.”
The report notes that the Presidential Coalition’s Facebook ads were predominantly targeted at Facebook users over the age of 65.
An INSIDER survey of Facebook ads, stored in Facebook’s political ad archive, found a similar trend. For instance, of the 1,000 to 5,000 users who viewed a November 2018 ad, 56% were women over 65 and 28% were men over 65.
- Facebook’s political ad archive
A senior Trump administration official told Axios Trump probably won’t like this news. “This is money that many likely think is going towards the president’s re-election effort when it is not,” the official told the outlet. “So effectively every dollar groups like Bossie’s and similar groups raise is a dollar the campaign does not.”
The CLC, which reviewed the Presidential Coalition’s IRS filings, also found that more than $659,000 of those dollars went toward Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation, two affiliated organizations Bossie runs.
He was at the helm of the organization during the 2010 landmark Supreme Court case that allowed super PACs, nonprofits, and corporations to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns. In 2017, $105,541 of that was for Bossie’s direct salary, according to the report.
In response to those specific allegations, the Presidential Coalition said in a statement that “the three entities are related groups and there is nothing inappropriate with taking advantage of economies of scale by sharing staff and infrastructure expenses.” The Coalition described the overall report as “fake news brought to you by a collaboration of the biased liberal media and unabashed left-wing activists.”
The Presidential Coalition didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment. The Trump campaign declined to comment on the matter.
One of the group’s top fundraising vendors was previously accused of preying on the elderly
Other ways that the Presidential Coalition spent the money, according to the report: at least $445,00 was used to purchase books to send to donors, including “Trump’s Enemies” which Bossie co-wrote, and millions of dollars went toward fundraising efforts to direct marketing firms, telemarketing firms, and related vendors.
The report noted that one of the Coalition’s top fundraising vendors, InfoCision, and its affiliates, which received more than $1 million in 2017 and 2018, was accused by former employees for preying on the elderly and misleading donors.
In January 2018, the telemarketing firm, whose other clients have included a pro-Trump political action committee, and groups linked to the Tea Party, settled a complaint after the Federal Trade Commission accused it of engaging in “false and misleading” tactics.
The Presidential Coalition, which Bossie started in 2005, gained prominence and a major fundraising boost following Trump’s 2016 victory, raising more in 2017 and 2018 than it did in the previous six years combined, the report said.
“There is a cottage industry of groups targeting vulnerable communities with self-serving borderline scams,” according to the report. “What sets the Presidential Coalition apart is that it is explicitly – and successfully – capitalizing on Bossie’s connection with the President of the United States.”
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