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Report: Arizona-based website took nearly $500,000 in donations but didn’t turn out support for tea party or candidates
A website run out of Arizona, ostensibly to support the so-called tea party movement, is under scrutiny after a local news organization dug into their finances and ownership, only to find what some may characterize as a remarkable scam.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure forms,JoinTheTeaParty.us took in approximately $469,000 in donations this year and spent roughly half its budget on marketing, with the rest going to distinctly non-political avenues.
In fact, according to CBS 5 in Phoenix, there’s no evidence the group spent so much as a dime to promote tea party candidates or related events.
FEC forms pulled by CBS affiliate show the group spent nearly $200,000 on search engine optimization and Google sponsorship, along with Facebook ads promoting their website. Submitting a Google search for “tea party” returned with the site atop the list of results.
They even advertised the site on Craigslist, with an impassioned appeal to “patriots” who may be sympathetic to conservative causes. Ironically enough, the ad states numerous times that this group in particular is a “marketing campaign” with a fundraising goal of $500,000 per week.
The domain is owned by Todd Cefaratti, an Arizona businessman with a background in data collection. His other business specializes in mining contact information and reselling the leads to clients in the reverse mortgage industry.
“Thousands” of donors have given their personal contact information and credit card numbers to the tea party site, according to CBS.
In spite of the obvious political implications of calling a group part of the tea party, which is not an official organization or political party, Cefaratti’s website is run by “Stop This Insanity, Inc.,” a 501(c)4 organization — meaning, they are not a solely political organization and they’re exempt from federal income taxes.
I've expressed some doubts in this forum about TeaParty.net
The main skill seems to be online solicitation. I'm not surprised
accomplishments have been hard to locate.
As I recall there were two people vinvoled. Are they still "related "? Todd Ceffaretti and Ron Dove
Is / are there going to be any ...........ramifications.Will there be any smears on the tea party.
The $200k spent on "search engine optimization, Google sponsorship, and Facebook ads" would raise suspicion that, in one way or another, the organization was paying themselves to do the job it does best -- data mining and online marketing.
The sites may well have served simply as platforms for email harvesting. As I recall, the 'enter email' box was the most prominent item on the page. I doubt there is anything illegal about what he is doing, but campaign finance regulators will be looking.
I read a bio of Todd Cefaratti today. Now, according to what I read, Mr. Cefaratti has all the credentials to qualify as an outstanding Tea Party leader. From what I read, he is concerned citizen, activist, patriot, very intelligent, talented, all those things we want, with a track record of conservative activism to back it up.
According to the campaign finance, the organization still has half of the $429M unspent. In itself, raising that kind of money is an amazing accomplishment.
Mr. Cefaratti has to understand that nobody trusts nobody in today's political game, much less Tea Party freelancers, without plenty of openness and clarity of objectives and purposes. That's just the way it is. How many sincere televangelists have wound up in tax court? I would guess, quite a few.