Thousands of grassroots conservative donors around the country who believe they are contributing to the fight to reclaim Congress in the fall have actually poured millions of dollars into a group of political action committees whose primary function appears to be enriching a notorious Washington direct mail fund-raising firm, Salon's review of the groups' FEC filings shows.
The PACs -- Freedom's Defense Fund, the Black Republican PAC, Veterans for Victory, and the Republican Member Senate Fund -- are all based out of post office boxes in Washington and all have a treasurer in common: Scott Mackenzie, a campaign finance consultant at Base Connect, the direct mail firm. Formerly known as BMW Direct, Base Connect has long been controversial for its practice of raising large sums of money for long-shot conservative candidates, who in turn pay Base Connect as much as 80 or 90 percent of the money raised for its services.
The PACs appear to be a clever twist on that model: Instead of having to find and pitch a congressional campaign on its services, Base Connect can, through the PACs, send out fundraising solicitations each election cycle on the basis of evergreen issues like promoting black Republicans. Of the money raised by the four PACs, 60 to 70 percent typically goes to Base Connect and its affiliates. Meanwhile, the PACs have spent from as little as 2 percent to as much as 6 percent of the money raised on funding actual campaigns -- a strikingly small share. The rest of the PAC's funds go to operating expenses like bank and legal fees, and occasionally to consulting fees to people such as conservative activist Jerome Corsi.