The ongoing Dick Armey-Freedom Works kerfuffle (he was chairman of the conservative NPO until he resigned this past November) has brought a lot of dirty laundry to light. One trove of leaked documents
suggests a reason for the GOP establishment to quiver:
According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks' top brass for a board of directors meeting...the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of "major gifts," the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs. (FreedomWorks' nonprofit components do not have to disclose their funders.)
Well-heeled individual contributors ponied up $31 million—or 94 percent—of those major gifts, according to the FreedomWorks board book. Eight donors gave a half-million dollars or more...
Granted, larger Super PAC's like the various Karl Rove ventures (American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS) are more likely in the $80-$100 million range, but $41 million isn't chump change. Plus, after the last election and the ensuing fallout
from conservatives who expected better results for their money, I suspect the Freedomworks figure will rise--especially after they dumped their "establishment" Republican chairman.
But Armey isn't going away quietly--and it's not clear that conservative donors will get any better bang for their buck by switching PACs. Armey gave an interview
to Media Matters--yes, the liberal watchdog site--where he continues to stick it to his former organization. He notes, for example, that FreedomWorks paid both Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck $1 million apiece to promote fundraising on their respective radio programs (bolding mine):
Beck has been reading on-air appeals for FreedomWorks since at least April 2010. In June of that year, Media Matters reported that the organization was using Beck's endorsement to raise money. Politico highlighted the relationship as an example of a conservative group "paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts" in exchange for "regular on-air plugs." The FreedomWorks document leaked to Mother Jones states that their fundraising relationship with Limbaugh began in 2012.
According to Armey, such programs are ineffective.
"If Limbaugh and Beck, if we were using those resources to recruit activists and inform activists and to encourage and enthuse activists, that's one thing," Armey explained. "If we are using these things to raise money; one, it's a damned expensive way to raise money; and two, it makes raising money an end on to itself not an instrumental activity to support the foundation work that our organization does."
He goes on to note that FreedomWorks and Beck staged rallies called "FreePACs" where they would actually charge activists to attend. The conservative grift goes on...it just has a new name in the "grassroots" Tea Party.