Over Congress’ August recess, groups like Heritage Action were remarkably busy rallying far-right activists, telling conservatives that if they were prepared to fight hard enough, they might actually derail the Affordable Care Act.
There was, of course, a small problem: the claims weren’t true. But the right made them anyway, and we’re starting to get a better sense of their motivations.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee connected to Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, raised its largest-ever monthly total for a non-election year this August while running a campaign pressuring Republican senators and representatives to defund Obamacare.
The PAC raised more than $1.5 million in August, according to its Federal Election Commission filing, with $1.3 million of that sum coming from small donors giving under $200 each. The small-donor haul is the largest-ever monthly small-donor total brought in by the Senate Conservatives Fund.
This fundraising bonanza came as the PAC joined efforts by the Heritage Foundation and its sister 501(c)(4) nonprofit Heritage Action, along with a series of tea party groups, to defund Obamacare.
The Huffington Post piece noted that the “Don’t Fund Obamacare” website also collected more than 1.5 million signatures, which will offer far-right groups a base of potential donors for months and years to come. It’s sort of like creating a naive, easily deluded ATM for elements of the conservative movement.
When Brian Walsh, a former spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said, “[T]his is about political cash, not political principle,” he really wasn’t kidding.
Indeed, as we discussed the other day, it appears quite a bit of the activism surrounding the “defund Obamacare” crusade wasn’t about realistic legislative scenarios so much as it was about conservative groups preying on confused donors.
As Rachel explained on the show this week, “This is a standard con.”
“You find people who have fears or strong desires, particularly if those fears and desires are poorly informed and very visceral, and then you capitalize on those fears and desires, you capitals on them literally, by getting those folks to send you their capital, to send you some of their money, because you tricked them into thinking you will take care of it, that you’re going to get it done. […]
This leveraging of political fear and rage and not knowing any better into personal financial gain, this has been around since the first huckster kicked over a soap box and stood on top of it yelling about the end of the world and his snake oil that could save you, right? This is a phenomenon that is always without beginning. But it also appears to have no end.
As much as I’d like to think the gullible conservative patsies will eventually realize they’re being taken advantage of, I’m not holding my breath. When it comes to policy, the far-right groups are a mess, but when it comes to their finances, they push these fundraising appeals because they know the appeals will be profitable.