Donald Trump’s presidential campaign warned his supporters on Tuesday of scammers trying to pass their organizations off as authentically affiliated with the president. While the campaign didn’t call out any particular groups by name, the announcement came shortly publication of a report from the Campaign Legal Center and Axios that found a group run by David Bossie, the former Trump deputy campaign manager, raised $13 million this year from small-dollar and elderly donors.
Bossie’s organization, the Presidential Coalition, uses an official-looking White House seal and a Pennsylvania Avenue address, which might confuse donors. According to the report, a majority of the money the organization has raised came from individuals who listed their occupation as “retired” and uses a telemarketing firm that has been accused of targeting the elderly.
“President Trump’s campaign condemns any organization that deceptively uses the President’s name, likeness, trademarks, or branding and confuses voters. There is no excuse for any group, including ones run by people who claim to be part of our ‘coalition,’ to suggest they directly support President Trump’s re-election or any other candidates, when in fact their actions show they are interested in filling their own pockets with money from innocent Americans’ paychecks, and sadly, retirements. We encourage the appropriate authorities to investigate all alleged scam groups for potential illegal activities.”
The Pennsylvania Avenue address on the Presidential Coalition’s mailers belongs to the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, also run by Boosie — famous for the Supreme Court case that gave corporations unlimited political spending power. (Readers might also recognize Bossie’s name from his appearances Fox News, where he is still an occasional guest, despite being suspended for two weeks in 2018 after telling a black guest: “You’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.”)
According to the CLC and Axios, the Presidential Coalition has spent a scant 3% of the more than $18 million it has raised since Trump’s inauguration on political activity it promised (goals such as to “grow the Republican ‘farm team’ to support President Trump’s conservative agenda,” and to “train and prepare conservative candidates to run and win in local elections”). Instead, the report says, most of the money has been spent on fundraising, with an additional $659,493 of it transferred to Citizens United and the Citizens United Foundation. (In a statement, Bossie called the CLC/Axios report “fake news brought to you by a coalition of the biased liberal media and unabashed left-wing activists.”)
On Tuesday, the Trump campaign clarified it has only four official fundraising groups: Donald J. Trump for President, the Republican National Committee, The Trump Make American Great Again Committee (TMAGAC) and Trump Victory. A fifth organization, America First Action, run by former White House aide Katie Walsh, the campaign said was “run by allies of the President and is a trusted supporter of President Trump’s policies and agendas.”