Scam PAC + HuffPo = Fake News

This post is about political targets of opportunity. Many people outside the system believe the left and right oppose each other all the time. Politics, unfortunately, runs by a self-serving principle (and principal) too often. As such, elements from polar opposites of the political divide can unite when they see the potential to advance their agenda and/or see profit potential.

This weekend The Huffington Post ran a piece headlined “GOP Congressional Candidate Will ‘End Muslim Immigration,’ Fundraising Email Says“. The first line of the story continues “A fundraising email on behalf of Karen Handel, a Republican running for office in Georgia, promises that she will end Muslim immigration if elected.”

Let’s get the denial out of the way before getting into the problems with the construction of both the article, and the email that it is based upon. From Karen Handel:

“Neither I nor my campaign have any connection to the organization or the people associated with the organization that sent this email. I support aggressive, legal and constitutional means to protect our country and secure our borders. I do not, however, support the use of a religious litmus test in determining an individual’s immigration status.”

It’s been interesting as with most fake news to watch Handel’s opponents, mostly from the left, take this story and run with it on social media as if it’s a direct quote from Handel and/or is representative of her views. While Huffpo can lawyerly claim there’s enough wiggle room in their headline to attribute the quote to the PAC involved, the line “on behalf of Karen Handel” is a bit more troublesome if parsing for truth here.

So let’s first take up the issue of this PAC, and its using Karen Handel and claims of its own making to fundraise…for itself.

The problem with PACs is that by the time they disclose their expenses, those they prey upon may have already been duped, and there’s no way to enforce that they will did what they claimed they will do. They are among the worst parts of the Citizen United decision. Campaigns can’t legally coordinate with Political Action Committees. That means a lot of campaigns accept the messaging of PACs with voters knowing there’s a certain wink and nod to non-coordination. This also opens up the door to those totally not known to a campaign or even actually helpful to them to make a buck.

I’m sure there are many people out there that wish they could have given Katrina Pierson or Paul Broun a few more dollars to draft Trey Gowdy for Speaker. That effort appears to have been just a few dollars short… Or that dude we had here a dozen years ago that raised money to save Terri Schiavo’s life. Almost all of that money that was reinvested in his own direct mail firm.

The PAC behind the fundraising email is “Save The American Way“.  The treasurer for this group is reported as Alexander Hornaday of Denver Colorado.  He was also listed as the treasurer of several “pro-Trump” PAC’s that raised a lot of money, and paid most of that money to PAC insiders.

“The common thread tying together that web of groups is ‘Amagi Strategies’, a New York-based consulting firm that has pulled down nearly three quarters of a million dollars in fees since 2012 from groups that spend minimal sums on actual activities designed to help the candidates they use to solicit donations.
The treasurer for a number of groups that have paid Amagi and appear to be tied to Whitney’s network is Alexander Hornaday, an attorney who has served as the Denver County Republican Party’s treasurer and a spokesman for the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans.

Hornaday also declined to comment on specifics about RAFL or other groups that he counts as clients. “I have a duty of confidentiality to my clients, which even includes the specifics of the type of services I provide for a client,” Hornaday said in an email.

He said that he handles financial reporting and compliance for clients and occasionally provides legal advice, but that he is “not involved in the selection of vendors or employees, except to review service contracts.”

Public records show collaboration between Whitney and Hornaday on other projects.”

Before we move back to HuffPo, let’s sum up Mr. Hornaday & the Save the American Way PAC email:  We have a direct denial from the candidate, and we have a treasurer that is associated with a bunch of PAC groups that traded off of the high name ID of the front running GOP Candidate. Karen Handel also has a nationwide name ID, and GA-6 is one of the only games in town.  It seems to fit the pattern of opportunity. Draw your own conclusions.

As for HuffPo’s opportunity, let’s paint by numbers, by paragraph:

  1. Attributes sensational claim to be for the benefit of Karen Handel, without any evidence that she’s authored, endorses, or will benefit from these claims.
  2. Notes the PAC didn’t respond to email for comment. What’s missing? Asking the actual campaign for comment. (I did, see above.)
  3. Notes Handel is in race to replace Tom Price, one of the left’s new boogeymen.
  4. Notes Trump’s troublesome comments about Muslims. (Still missing: Any quote from Handel about religious tests).
  5. A rundown of Handel’s bio, most of which is dedicated to virtue signaling to supporters of Planned Parenthood.
  6. A statement that those now virtue signaled that some feel Democrats have a chance to pick up GA-6.
  7. OMG. Karen “backed implementing a photo ID requirement”.  (Note to HuffPo:  She didn’t just back it. She implemented it, and it withstood all court challenges, mostly because Georgia created a mobile ID unit to get a photo ID to anyone that needed it but couldn’t travel to the Dept of Drivers Services themselves; and, the opponents in court tests couldn’t produce a single person unable to get a legal ID that qualified for one.)
  8. OMG! Did you hear that she supports voter ID?!?
  9. Smug conclusion that voter fraud doesn’t exist.

So HuffPo also is taking the opportunity to use the only candidate in GA-6 with nationwide name ID to editorialize via “news” their positions and call to action to progressives in Georgia 6.  Nevermind that they had to attribute quotes from an unrelated to the campaign independent entrepreneur to get the clicks to get their message out.

This is, after all this Huffington Post, celebrating the only diversity they know:

They won’t catch themselves celebrating that this may be the best chance to get a female member of Congress from Georgia. No, at the Huffington Post, the only diversity they know how to celebrate is the diversity of idea.

Update Note:  One of the links quoted above is from something called “The Trump Report”.  After some feedback it appears the original reporting done to compile much of the information in that article was done by Lachlan Markay of The Washington Free Beacon. As we know here all too well, it’s not only Scam PACs that like to use others’ name or work for their own purposes.  


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