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VIRGIN ISLANDS GOP a case study in A SCAM hybrid PAC

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Posted on February 12 2019


 Show me the money, honey...

 

As you might recall in the mid summer of 2018, I stumbled upon a strange filing within the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) Database. The “strange” thing was the Virgin Island GOP (VIGOP). For the record at the time I discovered this Republican Party “entity” I was on the “hunt” for Sec Ryan Zinke receipts. Besides EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the former Department of Interior a one Mr Ryan “WhiteFish” Zinke was the only cabinet member I proactively trolled and rooted for to be fired or indicted. As a refresher you can read my July 8, 2018 entry here.

VIGOP 2017 Facebook Post thanking Sec Zinke

VIGOP May 2017 Facebook Post highlighting Trump’s 100 days.

 

VIRGIN ISLANDS GOP

 

Beyond the fact that the Virgin Island is a US Territory, it just struck me as odd and I opted to set it aside and unfortunately I moved on to other more pressing matters, like immigrant children still being separated from their parents. And then in the late hours of Friday February 8, 2019 my phone started pinging. At first I ignored the alerts coming in to my phone.

Suffice to say last week was a long week and then of course the crazy train with an uninvited drama llama decided to stop by and thought it was a good idea to stick around for a while. HARD PASS😉

 

VIGOP throwing punches

 

So back to the actual topic... yes I am one of those mercurial individuals that sets up numerous alerts. Time management and multi-tasking is a thing, at least for me it is. Between my family, my actual work, friends (shocker I really do have real life friends), twitter and this blog, time management is absolutely essential. That said I have found that in the age of this exhausting Trump shit-show, damnit I mean Trump Reality TV presidency news breaks at lightening round speed. Setting up alerts helps me be more organized. Although one has to wonder are quantum computers even fast enough to keep up with Trump careening like a wrecking ball from one scandal to the next scandal to fubar to epic Christ on a Cracker ”he did what now?”...

 

As you know I DO NOT do Facebook, ever. Full disclosure I did have a Facebook account but as a matter of Ts & Cs of my contract “social media” accounts are frowned upon.  That said , VIGOP does have a Facebook Video page, oddly no one has archived their Facebook video page, so I’ve taken the liberty of archiving it, you can find the archive  here. As a primer you can read the original FEC paper work in the tweet below, the FEC link is embedded because I am a unapologetic believer in showing yor homework:

 

 

Now remarkably I had a fuzzy recollection about some Island brawl in the Spring of 2016. At the time I was at a DC area dinner party and what was the dinner-party gossip was (their words not mine) “straight up fist to cuffs down in the big V”. For the context at the time dinner party goers were deep in the discussion of Paul Manafort and Trump. Those who live  in & around the beltway found it rather odd that Trump would hire Manafort. The well known open secret was Manafort was all but blacklisted in the DMV (DC, MD and VA)...I believe at the time my exact response was:

 

...wait what? You mean 1986 Manafort the hired thug? The same donkey that struck gold overseas, hired by brutal tin-pot dictators...

that’s the jackhole Trump hired? Holy shit-cakes the RNC Convention is going to be lit...get your bail money ready because he’s a hired gun.

 

April 2016 VIGOP throw down 

 I can’t speak for the motives or the authenticity of this particular video but I’ll admit this is some fancy graphic work. The accompanying music is also an excellent choice. Based in part by various articles written at the time, here and here,  I am comfortable in saying this random YouTube video appears to be legit. Shortly after this YouTube video was published the VIGOP, 

VIGOP Chairman “John Canegata has authored a memo that attempts to explain his side of what happened at Saturday's chaotic meeting”

Statement of Facts on GOP Territorial Committee

 

After a bit of digging I was able to find a local radio talk show that offers a fulsome explaintion about why tempers flared and impetus of the issue. You’ll probably guess it was about egos or hurt feelings. Nope. In the Spring of 2016 there was an all out brawl within the VIGOP over a subset of issues, but mainly Voter Fraud and Delegates to the 2016 RNC Convention. Starting at the 5 minute marker of the YouTube video the host discuss the “serious voter fraud issues” an independent special counsel was appointed, Henry Smock. Specifically the VIGOP “state chairman” and the VI Board of Elections “will not be conducting elections for party officers” essentially leaving it up to the local parties.

 

Back to why my phone altered on Friday February 8, 2019, the VIGOP electronically submitted their quarterly report. At all relavant times I will link to the original FEC data source. In order to have a wholistic conversation about VIGOP, it makes sense to start at the beginning...

 

VIGOP FEC No C00553560 

 

FEC VIGOP 2013 Filing

In order to put the VIGOP’s FEC filings into context it is probably best to start at the beginning, as in January 2013. This link will take you to ViGOP FEC summary page. For those of us who have spent a decent amount of time researching Trump and his corrupt cronies, dang I mean Trump’s Swampy Cabinet then it is NOT a surprise to see Scott MacKenzie’s name listed as VIGOP treasure. Nor is it unexpected that the VIGOP PAC has a troubling past.

 

The Federal Campaign Election statutes:

11 CFR § 104.3 Contents of reports (52 U.S.C. 30104(b), 30114), found here.

Unitemized donations are defined by thr statute and FEC as: 

i.Contributions from persons other than any committees

A. Itemized contributions from persons, other than any committees, including contributions from individuals;

B. Unitemized contributions from persons, other than any committees, including contributions from individuals...

 

In non-legalese, essentially a political campaign can accept anonymous cash donations from individuals, the campaign (by law) is NOT required to disclose who the donor is or how much they donated, provided the cumalative amount is <$200.00... to me that’s a significant issue. And one loophole that should be closed forthwith. When I research political campaigns, I usually examine the itemized and unitemized “donations”. I should also add that the GOP doesn’t have a monopoly of “unitemized” cash donations, the proliferation of “anonymous cash donors” is a systemic issue that needs to be addressed via actual campaign finance reform.

 

In 2014 the New York Times published this article, it was the following paragraph that details Scott MacKenzie and his long history of “colorful” schemes. Never in my wildest dreams did I think some fifty seven months AFTER that NYTs article that we’d  still be dealing with Scott MacKenzie but here we are:

 

The fund-raising approach of the Virgin Islands committee is unusual for party organizations, but it’s not unusual for Mr. MacKenzie. In addition to the party committee, Mr. MacKenzie is the treasurer of nine other active political action committees that have raised a combined $10.1 million from individuals since the beginning of last year 

Mr. MacKenzie, who lives in Arlington, Va., and previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Patrick Buchanan, did not respond to several attempts to reach him for comment.

And then I realized that Scott MacKenzie and these scam PACs have been at this deceptive “fundraising” for nearly a DECADE. Yet every time a campaign or watchdog group files a formal FEC compliant the FEC takes months to “investigate” and ultimately concludes MacKenzie et al “did not violate Federal Campaign Finance Laws” to wit candidates end up suing MacKenzie et al. See the 2012 Allen West FEC Complaint.

 

See 2010 FEC Complaint filed against Scott MacKenzie via Honeycutt for Congress

See 2013 multiparty FEC Complaint  Based on my limited research Scott MacKenzie has been named in at least 43 FEC Complaints yet the FEC has a terrible ratio of holding MacKenzie and his deceptive schemes...  

It is mind boggling that Special Interest Groups, PACs and SuperPACs can infuse hundreds of thousands to tens of millions in to our electoral system and it’s perfectly acceptable. Frankly the SCOTUS CitizensUnited decision needs to be repealed. There’s no justification that a “corporation” has unlimited paths to pour unlimited amounts of money in to our politics, provided they funnel that money through a vast web of PACs and SuperPACs. Below is a snapshot of VIGOP’s 2013 FEC Summary, again at first glance nothing seems out of the ordinary...

 

 

Granted VIGOP’s 2013 FEC reporting shows a mere $65,477.27 raised but of that bucket of cash raised, VIGOP accepted $54,977.27 in anonymous cash donations. Based on an initial review there wasn’t anything that raised my alarm. I should say the filings seem on the up and up. But let’s not forget that Scott MacKenzie has a very “colorful” past. As previously mentioned MacKenzie has repeatedly been tied to what some in the GOP have called a “scam PAC”. In May of 2017 the FBI raided the Annapolis Based Strategic Campaign Group (SCG), you can read more  here.

Moreover in late 2015 former Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli filed a federal lawsuit and specifically named MacKenzie. Based on Court Filings, Cuccinelli alleged that SCG MacKenzie et al ran a “scam pac” using Cuccinelli’s likeness and semi prominent Pubic Personality to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals, yet SCG gave Cuccinelli <.5% of funds raised. See below for the disposition of that complaint:

 

 

VIGOP FEC 2014 Filing:

This FEC link will take you to VIGOP’s 2014. This is the moment I noticed things that just did not make any sense. I’ve previously stated how a few members within the National GOP partied referred to the VIGOP as a “scam pac” as a matter of strict precision, the FEC does not classify VIGOP as a PAC but as a hybrid organization. Again the loopholes and individuals like MacKenzie exploit our current Federal Finance Election laws.  Most individual donors list “retiree or homemaker”. Incidentally in 2014 there was a bit of a local power struggle. Which might explain the push-pull fight on the Island, but one thing is pretty clear, VIGOP + Scott MacKenzie + deceptive campaign solicitation = SCAM PAC. Meaning the sole purpose of VIGOP is to raise money to raise more money while only sending/spending a very small percentage to actual candidates:

 

2013/2014 FEC Election Cycle:

When you combined VIGOP’s 2013/2014 FEC filings, here’s what the record reflects a disparity of fund raising for actual candidates versus fundraising for VIGOP to fund raise. Essentially accepting donations so VIGOP to send out letters for more donations but the money raised never goes to actual campaigns.

 

        • Total Receipts = $1,191,685.41
        • Itemized individual contributions = $275,320.17
        • Unitemized individual contributions = $915,352.24
        • Transfer to Affiliated Committees = $22,112.92
        • Contributions to Other Committees = $44,500.00  
        • Other Federal Expenditures = $1,040,589.84

 

What I found noteworthy is VIGOP’s Total Debts, this link will take you to VIGOP Schedule D, this seems disproportionately high...but somewhat expected given the copious news articles questioning VIGOP’s activities.

Total Debts This Period = $197,368.23

 

2015/2016 FEC Election Cycle: 

        • Total Receipts = $3,493,514.62
        • Itemized individual contributions = $1,101,345.76
        • Unitemized individual contributions$2,344,675.42
        • Transfer to Affiliated Committees = $35,142.44🌶
        • Contributions to Other Committees = $29,000.00
        • Other Federal Expenditures =  $2,652,981.63

 

 

You can find VIGOP FEC 2015/2016 raw data here.🌶what is somewhat problematic is the $35,142.44 transfer to “affiliated” committees is in fact a transfer to itself, meaning based on this page, the VIGOP transferred funds to themselves. I don’t understand how that’s even legally permissible:

 

In September of 2016, a local Texas Newspaper published an extraordinary article which called into question the VIGOP tactic of “preying on retired Americans”, Representative Bill Hurd’a campaign manager went on the record with San Antonio Express-News (article found here)

The operation is one of the fundraising schemes operated out of Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia that put only a portion of their receipts back into political campaigns.

 These PACs — political action committees — raise hefty sums that donors believe are destined for candidates and causes. But the vast majority goes to mailing costs, profits for fundraisers and consultants, and more fundraising...

fraudulent outside organizations such as VIGOP” from using Hurd’s name or photo in mail solicitations.

“It’s disgusting that there are people in this world preying on seniors and other peoples’ good names just to turn a profit,” said Justin Hollis, campaign manager for Hurd’s re-election effort.

 

2017/2018 FEC Election Cycle: 

        • Total Receipts = $2,986,824.78
        • Itemized individual contributions = $925,405.19
        • Unitemized individual contributions = $2,048,657.29
        • Transfer to Affiliated Committees = (-$22,438.78)
        • Contributions to Other Committees = $79,500.00
        • Other Federal Expenditures =  $1,732,019.54

 

February 8, 2019 FEC Filing

VIGOP’s Filing should be examined closely. By all appearances the donors appear to be small dollar, they range for $53.00 to $300 but (again I do not condone doxing so I’m purposely refraining from posting pages 4-65 because it includes PII) the vast majority of donors are either retirees or homemakers. NONE of this makes sense to me. Why are hundreds of Americans, mainly in the 48 contiguous United States are sending donations to the Virgin Islands GOP, see their February 2019 filing here.

 

  

 

 I suppose a reasonable remedy would be the GOP and the FEC going to Court and seeking a permanent injunction barring Scott MacKenzie from ever holding or working for any Political Campaign as in a lifetime ban. Because it’s pretty clear he’s been running an actual scheme for over a decade and it’s gross that he’s preying on retired Americans, many of whom are living on a fixed income. 

 -Spicy Out

 

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