David Bossie, President Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, has raised millions of dollars for a political organization that’s done almost nothing, Axios reports.
Bossie used his connections with Trump to heavily market his organization, the Presidential Coalition, claiming that donations go to pro-Trump Republican candidates. Instead, it seems most of the money has been siphoned right back into fundraising and to Bossie’s other organizations, according to a report from the Campaign Legal Center.
CLC looked at federal records and found that almost all the money raised by the Presidential Coalition has gone to more fundraising for the organization, and to administrative costs, which include Bossie’s $105,541 salary. In 2017 and 2018, the Presidential Coalition spent only $425,442 of the total $15.4 million they raised on direct political activity. The organization seems to have raised this huge sum largely by targeting elderly Trump supporters in the wake of Trump’s election.
“There is a cottage industry of groups targeting vulnerable communities with self-serving borderline scams,” the CLC writes in their 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.”
Bossie refuted the claims made by Axios and CLC in a statement, calling the report “fake news brought to you by a collaboration of the biased liberal media and unabashed left-wing activists.”
The former Trump campaign official also runs Citizens United, the notorious political organization that won a Supreme Court case against the FEC in 2010, opening up political campaigns to larger donors and snuffing out public financing of campaigns.
In his statement, Bossie posited that the CLC’s report can’t be trusted because of their grudge over the Citizens United decision. He claimed that CLC has a “conflict of interest” because it “is a highly vocal and fierce critic of the landmark Citizens United v. FEC case.”
He added that the report “totally ignores the legitimate staff, infrastructure and other political activity costs associated with the organization’s work,” and that “it is expensive to raise substantial amounts in small donor contributions using direct mail, digital, and telemarketing.”
One of the interesting expenses that CLC found by combing through IRS data was $445,972 spent by Bossie’s organization on buying copies of books, notably his own book, Trump’s Enemies, to give to donors. Bossie says it wasn’t that much money.
“In 2018, TPC spent a small amount on Trump’s Enemies. The bulk of the book premiums, however, where [sic] for copies of Trump’s America, which was authored by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. TPC members are very excited to receive these books and DVDs,” he said.
Another $650,000 of the funds raised by Presidential Coalition went to Bossie’s other organizations, including Citizens United.
One senior Trump administration official told Axios that the president isn’t likely to be happy to find out about Bossie’s doings.
“The problem the president is going to have with this is 1) he does not like when people are perceived to be profiting off of him, and 2) these are not max out donors. This is money that many likely think is going towards the president’s re-election effort when it is not. So effectively every dollar groups like Bossie’s and similar groups raise is a dollar the campaign does not,” the official said.
It’s true: these are not big time donors that Bossie seems to be ripping off, but rank and file Republicans who genuinely want to see Trump win. The CLC report found that 66 percent of donations made to the Presidential Coalition were for less than $200.
A companion report by Axios found that the vast majority of Facebook ads run by Presidential Coalition targeted those 65 and older. The elderly donors contacted by Axios were surprised to hear how their money was being spent.
“I thought the money was going toward the president,” Barbara Bloom, 70, told Axios. “You know, I’d get repeated duplicates for things. [Their mailers] would most of the time say the first $15 was for your membership, but how many times do you pay membership? …It’s ridiculous, it’s insulting. I’m just really disenchanted with it all.”