The late, great Eric Hoffer once said that, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
Some people have started to wonder whether that’s happened to groups in the conservative movement – and that’s understandable. Reports about sleazy activities by conservative groups have not exactly been in short supply over the last couple of years. Damaging stories have popped up on the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, Washington Post, the Politico and at theDaily Caller among other outlets. Additionally, for those of us who have a lot of friends in the Tea Party and among grassroots conservatives, stories of abuse have become rampant. That may be why you’ve heard people like Ann Coulter and Dana Loesch publicly suggesting that there are groups out there ripping people off. However, the problem with the articles that have come out so far is that most of them have come from liberal outlets and have only discussed limited aspects of a few organizations. That naturally led people to wonder if they were reading hit pieces. As to the rumors, there are always two sides to every story and it’s difficult to know how much weight to place on anecdotal stories.
So, I decided to find out once and for all what’s really happening with these conservative groups. Towards that end, I hired an experienced researcher, Jay Batman, to do an in-depth 170 page report on 21 big name conservative groups that we selected. We focused on big name organizations along with other groups that had been targeted in reports by other media outlets. Eventually, after finding that the money issues all seemed to center around the PACs, we decided to drop four (501(c)(3)s and (501(c)(4)s and focus where we were finding the problems. After the research was done, my partner Tiffiny Ruegner and I reached out to all of these groups to give them a chance to respond. A little less than half of the PACs replied, but we did want to get their side of what was happening because the ultimate goal was to compare all these groups in as neutral a fashion as possible so conservatives can decide whether their money was well spent.
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