While there’s no single reason for the GOP’s presidential meltdown in 2016, an explanation has to at least include the extent to which conservative con artists exploited popular discontent mainly to pad their own pocketbooks. Writing inPolitico, campaign finance lawyer Paul Jossey details how ”conservative” PACs systematically drained tens of millions of dollars from conservative donors — only to use that money to fund lavish salaries and more fundraising:
The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.
What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.
If you give to even one conservative cause — or sign up for even one email newsletter — your email and mailbox will be deluged with direct, desperate appeals for money. Jossey shows that many of these organizations would spend a grand total of ten percent of their incomes on funding candidates, with 90 percent dedicated to more fundraising and ever-higher activist salaries.
Even worse, as the competition for the conservative dollar grew, so did the hysterics.