A coalition formed to oppose President Donald Trump raised nearly half a million dollars in 2017, however, it was how that money was distributed which is raising red flags.
According to Federal Election Commission records, the Democratic Coalition Against Trump reportedly paid over half of the money it brought in last year to its employees or its various consulting firms.
The coalition formed in 2016 “with the main goal of making sure that Donald Trump never became President,” reportedly used three of every four dollars from donors such as Omar Siddiqui to fund employees, The Daily Beast reported.
Siddiqui, who was a Democratic challenger to California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher at the time, paid $2,000 to the group after he was personally invited by Scott Dworkin, DCAT’s senior advisor.
However, he wasn’t too pleased after learning where the majority of his contributions were being funneled.
“Being an attorney,” he said, “I intend to investigate this further and look forward to receiving a full explanation about the use of donations.”
Multiple Democratic operatives have voiced concerns over the group’s questionable spending practices.
“He is conning people into giving him small-dollar donations so he can pay himself and sustain an organization that gains him credibility,” an anonymous party operative said.
In 2016, even more of donor money was allocated to satisfy employee salaries.
According to FEC records, Dworkin and other DCAT employees received over 90 percent of the organization’s expenditures.
However, the coalition claims that they have been honest with their expenses, much of which goes to paying for the heavy staff overhead required to run many of its campaigns.
Chuck Westover, a senior advisor for DCAT, stated: “We’ve done a ton of work online — much more of it organic social media than paid social media — so most of it hasn’t been the kind of things that get itemized in a FEC report. Instead, they’re expenses paid directly out of consulting fees.”
“Our work has had and continues to have a real impact,” he added, “so it’s not a huge surprise that we have attracted some detractors.”
As noted by The Daily Beast, there are currently no laws that regulate how of much political action committees finances must be allocated to employees or “independent expenditures.”
The responsibility of tracking a PAC’s finances is ultimately incurred by the donors themselves. However, many either don’t care or don’t know the proper routes to use to find where their contributions are being used.
This can allow organizations such as DCAT to mishandle donations for their own political gain and do so under the radar.
Brendan Fischer, the director of FEC and federal programs at the Campaign Legal Center, spoke on the rise of these questionable operations.
He stated that “the rise of ‘scam PACs’” began “during the Obama years, where grifters would tap into anti-Obama sentiment to raise mostly small-dollar donations from grassroots conservatives, and then pay themselves consulting fees rather than use the money to support candidates or causes.”
“The Democratic Coalition seems to be using a similar playbook, only here they are tapping into anti-Trump sentiment.”
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