Half of all 2019 donations to ActBlue came from ‘unemployed’ donors who are untraceable: Report

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An analysis of some $400 million in donations to the Democrat-supporting ActBlue fundraising platform found that about half of all donors were listed as “unemployed” and are untraceable.

According to initial computer analysis by the Take Back Action Fund, a conservative political group, the discrepancies raise new “serious concerns” about potential massive foreign influence less than two months before the presidential election, Fox News reported exclusively.

The group discovered during its preliminary examination that nearly half of all donations to ActBlue in 2019 were made by people who claimed to be unemployed.

The head of the action fund, John Pudner, said it’s a loophole that has to be closed in order to ensure more integrity in U.S. elections.

“After downloading hundreds of millions of [dollars in] donations to the Take Back Action Fund servers, we were shocked to see that almost half of the donations to ActBlue in 2019 claimed to be unemployed individuals,” he said.

“The name of employers must be disclosed when making political donations, but more than 4.7 million donations came from people who claimed they did not have an employer. Those 4.7 million donations totaled $346 million ActBlue raised and sent to liberal causes,” he added.

The trend has continued into 2020, Pudner said. His organization’s analysis of donations from January through August actually showed an increase in “unemployed” donors to ActBlue — 50.1 percent.

For its part, ActBlue defended the donations and claimed that many people donate who are retired or who otherwise don’t count as employed, such as homemakers.

But, says the Action Fund, last year ‘unemployed’ donors to ActBlue made up 48.4 percent of those giving to the platform, though 2019 was well before the massive layoffs earlier this year due to coronavirus-related business closures.

That large percentage, said Pudner, sends up red flags that much of the money could be coming in illegally from foreign sources.

“It is hard to believe that at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate was less than 4 percent, that unemployed people had $346 million dollars to send to ActBlue for liberal causes,” Pudner said, noting further that “4.7 million donations from people without a job … raised serious concerns.”

Created in 2004, ActBlue describes itself as a “powerful online fundraising platform available to Democratic candidates and committees, progressive organizations, and nonprofits that share our values for no cost besides a 3.95% processing fee on donations.”

“And we operate as a conduit, which means donations made through ActBlue to a campaign or organization are considered individual donations,” says the platform’s website.

However, the Action Fund and other critics of the platform note that it permits credit card donations that are not verified, meaning anyone from any country can make an untraceable contribution.

“ActBlue’s insistence on refusing to allow banks to verify their donations is an invitation to foreign programmers or others to send money through them using fake American names, and we encourage them to start letting banks verify the identity of donors to stop the potential for millions of dollars to influence our election,” Pudner said.

His group also did an analysis of donations to WinRed, a small donor platform created to support Republican candidates. Last year, 4 percent of the $302 million raised from 4.9 million donors came from people listed as unemployed; this year the figure is 5.6 percent.

“We purposely wanted to examine 2019 first, because, before COVID-19, the unemployment rate was at 4 percent or below. It’s hard to believe that millions of Americans who were out of work had $346 million to spare to give to ActBlue for liberal causes,” said Pudner, adding that it will take more time and resources to find out if the donations were genuinely from unemployed people.

In fact, the ‘loophole’ was discovered more than a decade ago. The Washington Post published a story in 2008 shedding light on political donations that were no being authenticated. The campaign of then-Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was “allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity.”

And in 2015, the Action Fund warned that millions of dollars “could be moved by allowing unverified credit card contributions.“

Pudner said that to this day, ActBlue continues to use an “unverified system.”

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Jon Dougherty

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