According to a new report by The Daily Beast, there might be a traitor in the #Resistance.
The Coalition Against Trump, which the DB describes as "one of the many new progressive-minded organizations to bloom in the age of anti-Trump fervor," managed to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in 2016 to unsuccessfully defeat Trump. After Trump de-"inevitable"-ized Hillary Clinton on election night, the PAC, partly led by senior advisor Scott Dworkin, expertly morphed into a "resist Trump" effort and continued to pull in Democratic dollars, much of it coming in the form of $200 or less donations from "unitemized" donors.
"It’s what the group has done with its money — not how much it has brought in — that has raised eyebrows among other operatives," the DB's Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein note.
According to FEC records, in 2016, 90% of the hundreds of thousands donated to the Coalition Against Trump went to Dworkin and other staff members, "either personally or through a consulting company," Markay and Stein report. In 2017, more than half the nearly half-a-million dollars the PAC took in went to employees or their consulting firms.
But it gets worse. A closer look at exactly what the anti-Trump PAC has been spending its money on revealed an ugly little detail allegedly not disclosed to donors (formatting adjusted):
On top of those expenditures, the Democratic Coalition has also spent $127,500 in legal fees since late 2016. Those fees stem from a libel lawsuit brought by a North Dakota doctor who donated $2,700 to the Trump campaign. The Coalition dubbed him a “major benefactor of the Trump campaign” and accused him of ties to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and terrorist elements in that country. The case was settled last summer under undisclosed terms. But the Democratic Coalition never informed current or prospective donors that their contributions would help cover what have turned out to be six-figure legal expenses.
DB spoke with a few Democratic donors and insiders, who had some bad things to say about Dworkin.
"He is conning people into giving him small-dollar donations so he can pay himself and sustain an organization that gains him credibility," said one top party operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's a f***ing abomination."
"He is nowhere near a movement leader," The Young Turk's Nomiki Konst said of Dworkin. "He is a political operative who, in my opinion, targets first-time candidates who often don’t know what they don’t know. And he has a trail of frustrated clients and coworkers. The majority of political campaign consultants are in it for the money and not always for the win. But Scott Dworkin is in his own class."
Coalition Against Trump officials insist that though their financial disclosures might not seem to reflect it, they have been effectively resisting Trump.
"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," said senior advisor Chuck Westover. "Instead, they’re expenses paid directly out of consulting fees. ... Our work has had and continues to have a real impact, so it’s not a huge surprise that we have attracted some detractors."
What exactly is that "work online"? "The group, and Dworkin himself, are hyperactive on Twitter, crafting lengthy threads of tweets attempting to draw ties between Trump and the Russian government, or implicate other high-ranking Republicans," Markay and Stein explain.
One expert on the issue of "scam PACs," Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer, told DB the rise in the #Resistance scams follows a pattern. In the Obama years, it was anti-Obama scams; now, it's fraudulent groups "tapping into anti-Trump sentiment."