December 5, 2020

The Swift Grift

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Or Make America Groan Again.

It is something to behold; this tidal wave of donated money chasing a false narrative dangled like a carrot before an already election-and-pandemic-stressed public by President Trump and his Katzenjammer crew.

More than $200 million and counting since the election—nearly $7million a day raked in from his base. Ostensibly, it’s all to save the election from ballot thieves (President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party), which, according to President Trump, pulled off the greatest clandestine theft in the history of thievery. So clandestine that the Trump campaign can present no credible evidence that such theft occurred—none.

While they cry fraud to the press and on Twitter and other social media, they persistently avoid such language in court because lying in court has consequences. When asked by either Republican or Democratic appointed judges hearing their claims in dozens of cases whether they are actually claiming fraud, they answer meekly, “no, your honor.”

Given the short shrift with which the courts are dispatching these bogus cases and the swiftness with which major law firms are dropping their Katzenjammer clients, it’s hard to rationalize how this legal defense money is, or will be, spent.

Well, just kidding. It seems that relatively little of the money is really intended for paying election legal and vote-recount expenses. The Official Election Defense Fund, writ very large, is simply what donors think they are funding. In reality, the lion’s share of the money is being siphoned off to President Trump’s new post-election Political Action Committee, Save America, and to the Republican National Committee, writ very small.

So, what are the real recipients of these funds obligated to do with this largess? Well, pretty much whatever Trump chooses to do with the money. It will mostly go toward funding Trump’s campaign debts and his future political and attendant personal whims. The Washington Post reported that only $8.8 million of the $200+ million raised so far has gone toward actual legal expenses, and $3 millions of those dollars went to funding the recount in Wisconsin, which, not surprisingly, wound up adding more votes to Biden. Really, you can’t make up this sort of hijinks.

This week President Trump taped a 46-minute speech from the White House with all the presidency’s trappings, including a podium emblazoned with the presidential seal. He ranted about the rigged election, which no court, nor his own Justice Department, nor the Department of Homeland Security, nor the FBI has found credible. But never mind those details, his rant was quickly “liked” on Twitter 134,000 times and “shared” on Facebook 93,000 times. The band played on, and the money rolled in.

Much of the money flowing into Trump’s post-election-day fund-raising effort has come from small contributors, many of whom have repeatedly doled out bucks in response to the campaign’s repeated appeals.

If it looks like a grift and sounds like a grift, it is probably a grift. It is certainly a grift if most of the donors believe their contributions are mostly going to challenge the election results, which they have been told was fraudulently stolen by the Democrats. That fraudulent claim has generated millions in donations every day since the election. A grift, and a swift grift at that.

Here’s how the scheme works according to the small print. Three-quarters of every donation goes to Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee, and 25% goes to the RNC’s general fund. Only after Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee has received $5,000 from any given donor does the Trump operation’s portion of the donation shift to an election defense or “recount” fund established within the Trump campaign. And only after the RNC portion of a donor’s total reaches $35,500 does that fraction start passing to the dedicated “legal proceedings” funds that the RNC maintains.

That means, according to one statistical analysis, a single person’s donations which are split between the two organizations must hit $6,666.67 before a single penny starts flowing to a dedicated defense or recount fund. Because the fundraising emails and texts are sent to donors who typically give in the $20 or $50 range, the chance that any of the money will go toward what the donors assume they are contributing to is small-to-non-existent. One campaign veteran referred to such a money sharing scheme as a pure bait-and-switch grift.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who unsuccessfully ran against Trump for the 2020 GOP presidential nomination, said Trump’s fans just don’t believe it. “I’ve brought it up to his supporters,” Walsh said. “They just don’t believe it.”

So, how will the money be used? Well, it appears that the funds routed to Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee (which is the lion’s share of the funds) can be used to pay for salaries or expenses to Trump or any of his Katzenjammer crew or kids who are doing work for the Save America PAC, or fund meeting expenses and meals at, perhaps, any of his pricey hotel properties, or to cover any other of Trump’s political aspirations—possibly a Save America cable television network. Ever since the Fox network correctly called Arizona for Biden, Trump has been fuming about Fox’s role in his election defeat.

What is certain is that long after the dust has settled on the 2020 election and all the fatuous appeals have withered, Trump will have the means to harass the new Biden Administration and engage in considerable self-aggrandizement for years to come.

He’ll have the means to Make America Groan Again…and again.

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15 responses to “The Swift Grift”

  1. susan duman says:

    Reading this essay reminds me that gossip sells. If I enjoyed what you wrote, It explains why 70 million folks lap it up.
    Have a good day and thanks.
    Susan D

  2. Steve says:

    As I thought of what Trump has pulled off….a supposed multi-billionaire “conning” people of mostly modest means into donating hundreds of millions of dollars to his family’s future lifestyle….I realized that he had discovered his very own “River City” and made Robert Preston and Bernie Madoff look like a pikers by using the two months following an election that he knew he had lost to engage in one of the great scams of all time. Sadly he has destroyed American’s previously well founded faith in the general fairness of its elections and damaged our most important democratic institution in the process.

    As a long time Republican supporter it saddens me to think of how long it will take to restore America to the position of respect it previously held in the world not to mention among its own citizens.

  3. ELIEZAR BENJAMEIN. aka Leonard Sherman says:

    Hal week after week you continue to dig a deeper hole to bury President Trump in why don’t you let President Trump fade into the history books with a side note that as President of the United States he did a lot of good things for America and his foreign policy did accomplishments what his predessors could not do. How about an essay that describe how great America is and use your pen to promote patriotism and ask your readers what they have done for our country, and not what they want the country to do forthem, I did I gave four of my life in the defense of my country in World War 2 God Bless America

  4. Response to Leonard Sherman: Your comment, perhaps, should be directed to President Trump. I, for one, would be quite satisfied to see President Trump fade into the history books. It is President Trump who is refusing to recognize that, by a substantial margin (millions of votes), America has chosen to close the book on his Presidency.

  5. Thomasin Savaiano says:

    Replied late last night to last week’s essay, but it did not post, so first, a quick recap:
    Your facts and follow up comments rang true:
    Repub. state officials stand by their elections as free of massive-scale fraud.
    Repub. Judges have thrown out many of the 38+ cases for no merit or evidence in this strain on the judicial system.
    Common sense: If a ballot cast for down-ticket Repubs. is valid – the very same ballot also voting for Biden at the top – cannot be simultaneously valid and invalid.
    Simple math: 81 mill Biden (to 74 mill Trump) vs. 69 mill Obama (to 59 mill McCain) is because 27 mill more people voted in 2020.

    But what matters is, your point -“that those politicians and their spokesmen who charge massive voter fraud without having evidence of massive voter fraud are engaging in Goebbelsian tactics” –
    was completely proven by the large amount of vitriolic replies you received.
    In spite of facts and the un-American behavior we have seen in the highest positions in this great land the last 4 months, it seems those tactics worked, based on those replies.
    Ironically, they unthinkingly proved your point.

    As to today’s post, again, the facts you share have been evident the last 4 weeks, but rarely laid out. They are right there, in the small print – counting on followers not to read them as they give their last $10 .

    I’d offer that a President who understood that his job is about the people, not himself, would not choose to use that age-old false marketing tactic on his supporters, many of whom are out of work from the pandemic.
    Nor, as we saw last night, choose to still lie to them about the state of things as they crowd around him in a situation that puts them literally at risk (not to mention the healthcare workers that will have to try and save some of their lives in a few weeks).
    These things which we can all see and read for ourselves seem to indicate that his focus, and the focus of those at the top who continue to support this behavior – are only on personal futures.
    Not our sacred institution, or even those who voted for them.

  6. Jim katz says:

    Hal. Good explanation of how Trump converts his “fake news“ into a $200 million personal benefit. The same culture occurred while he was in the real estate business raising similar savings from small vendors.Let him pardon himself and his family. This will let the Biden administration focus on its objectives rather chasing trumps transgressions at the federal level.

    Federal pardon will not prevent fraudulent tax returns or other violations at the state level From being prosecuted.

  7. Gail Sehler says:

    Great article. The Chicago Tribune Perspective page published an article today titled, “Biden should hope Trump pardons himself”. It was written by Doyle McManus, a columnist from the Los Angeles Times.
    He points out besides all the political distractions this would present for Biden, Trump still has to deal with the all civil & legal problems in New York. At what point will his base wake up and smell the skunk!

  8. Ted Goldman says:

    Hal.
    Plenty of credible evidence exists to question the authenticity
    of election results in the disputed Democratic strongholds despite the assertions in your column.

    Quite miraculously democratic operatives discovered hundreds of thousands of Biden votes after unlawfully closing, and then reopening
    these precincts.

    Video evidence, over a thousand sworn affidavits, ad infinitum have been presented

    At this late stage it appears that only the SCOTUS can make the determination that legislatures in the disputed States should have the final say, as the US Constitution permits.

    For tens of millions of voters this was a
    stolen election. I am among those who feel this way

  9. evc says:

    I and so many others agree with Ted Goldman. Hal and his followers have their heads in the sand. Wake up to see what has happened and continues to happen.

  10. Stuart Goldfine says:

    It may take a few years, but Trump will be vindicated. Trump is saying that many of the voters on Nov. 3rd were not eligible to vote then because their addresses were wrong, people had moved, people did not sign correctly their mail in ballot. What is needed is a check of each ballot that was cast by Nov. 3rd. Anything after that postmark should be deleted.
    I know a Democrat in Maryland who got TWO ballots; amazingly, his wife, a Republican, got ONE ballot. You know the fix was in there and the other tossup states (Michigan, PA, Wisconsin, Georgia). Yes, Georgia recounted their ballots, but never checked if these were valid and eligible voters.

    PA voting is suspect because their main industries in the state are coal, oil, natural gas, and fracking, so explain to me why those citizens voted themselves out of their jobs and trusted the Democrats and their silly Climate Control program. I might believe in Climate Control but only if Russia, China, India, and Brazil must live by the same standards as America. Those four countries are the main polluters of the world.

  11. Response to Mr. Goldman, EVC, and Mr. Goldfine: Suffice to say, the allegations, routine idiosyncrasies, and gross exaggerations referenced in these comments have been reviewed by the United States Department of Justice, the Office of Homeland Security, the FBI, and Republican and Democratic election officials in the various states as well as the Republican and Democratic judges who have heard the cases brought by the Trump campaign. None have found these allegations to be material, or credible and none have found them to be cases of fraud. A Trump-appointed conservative, Republican federal judge and member of the Federalist Society who heard the Trump campaign’s case in court opined that their case was a gaggle of discredited or immaterial information stitched together “like a Frankenstein monster.”

  12. BLB says:

    Suffice it to say, the continual Trump bashing will go forward well into the next administration, so everyone get used to it. Most conservatives already are, and accept it. If the current critics could look inward and see way beyond “fraud”, they would see the huge Democratic Machine were at work for many years. We elected Trump because he was a businessman, and knew how to get things done. His 4-year term accomplishments were worthy of 8 years. He will continue to make his mark on our country in positive ways. What the electorate should acknowledge going forward is that mail in voting should be eliminated, and we return to the in-person voting that has been done for the last 230 years. And require voter ID. This will eliminate the potential for the “absolute fraud” that the Democratic Machine created with years in the planning, and were given an easy pass with Joe Biden and his running mate Covid.
    And I might add, the destructive hatred that still lingers for Trump needs to go…. it’s only destructive for those harboring it.

  13. ted goldman says:

    The SCOTUS has accepted the Texas case challenging this election. Arguments will be heard Thursday 12/10/20.
    If they rule in Texas’ favor, one remedy would order State legislatures to select the electors, as required by the US Constitution.

    Supreme Court Justices are as human as any of us. Mentioned in a prior SCOTUS opinion, the “emanations and penumbras” of a case led the Justices to do what is correct.

    The emanations and penumbras of fraud in this Presidential election will hopefully result in the Justices doing what is correct.

  14. Response to Ted Goldman: I presume they will do what is correct.

  15. ted goldman says:

    For those interested in Texas’ challenge to the
    SCOTUS, the website “RealClearPolitics.com” today
    (Thursday 12/10/20) has an excellent analysis of Texas’
    150 page filing, authored by Margot Cleveland, a law professor at Notre Dame, and former 25 year appellate Court attorney.
    originally published in The Federalist.
    SCOTUS has instructed the 4 other involved States to submit arguments by 3pm eastern time on 12/10/20 (today)

    Their decision may very well fundamentally change our democracy.

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