Making money off Sheriff Clarke?
A Super-PAC is making money fundraising off former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke's name and the latter isn't happy about it. Styled as the 'Draft Sheriff David Clarke for Senate PAC, or political action committee, the PAC has raised nearly two million dollars in donations, yet has spent nothing on getting that idea out except through fund-raising. It all raises the question of 'why?'
According to the Daily Caller:
FEC filings show the PAC took in $1.97 million between January 1 and June 30, and spent $1.89 million during that same time period — $1.87 million of which went towards “operating expenditures.”
The PAC has spent exactly zero dollars on “independent expenditures” — defined as money spent advocating for or against a candidate in an election — as of its most recent FEC filings.
Clarke meanwhile, is livid about this group making money off his name for something he says will never happen, calling it 'scam PAC.'
Sharyl Attkisson, in her new book, The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote, calls PACS a pillar of the 'smear industrial complex,' describing them this way:
Super PACs are a powerful campaign funding vehicle made possible through the January 2010 upreme Court decision known as Citizens United. Unlike a candidate's official fundraising operation, super PACs are not permitted to coordinately directly with a candidate, but they can collect unlimited political donations. What's more, the Supreme Court ruled corporations and unions can make super PAC donations.
Whether this one is engaged in disinformation smears so characteristic of the ones Attkisson described is unknown, but the Daily Caller (as well as leftist publications such as Mother Jones) has described its email appeals for money as racial and racist, which might amount to a smear against Clarke. At a minimum, it opens up a leftist narrative against him, seen here, here, here and here. Would such emails amount to smear disinformation? They could if the ownership of the PAC were unknown or had backing that was unknown.
The owner of the PAC, Jack W. Daly, however, is known, so it is possible his game really is to just persuade Clarke to run for Senate as he says. Political types, after all, frequently say they aren't running when they really are. The Daily Caller points out that Clarke is doing nothing that would suggest he is running howeveerr, because he is not meeting fat-cat donors or doing other things that signal a politician is running even when he says he is not. Clarke hasn't disclosed what he intends to do since resigning his sheriff's post, but says he will announce his plans soon.
But if there's no chance Clarke is running, it would seem to be a mighty strange errand to keep raising money to say he can be persuaded, particularly if he vehemently opposes it. If you really liked someone enough to want to draft him into the Senate, wouldn't you be put off if he called your operation a 'scam PAC'? Wouldn't you feel bad? That Daly just keeps on going suggests something other than just liking Clarke is at the root of this operation. Yet if the aim is not to smear him, it could be to tap out his potential fundraising base or innoculate him from ever fundraising due to the ineffectiveness of the PAC. In which case, it would seem to be an organization that runs counter to Clarke's interests.
Another possibility for its existence may be to rent out email lists, as the Daily Caller reports, pointing out that Daly has done this in the past. In which case, it would be a money-making operation off Clarke's name which has no benefit to Clarke.
Or, it could take its raised cash and switch purposes, as some PACs have done. There is no evidence Daly has switched sides ideologically as some of them do, but not much is known of him.
What it appears to be here, is a new innovation in Washington Swamp games played by the smear establishment Attkisson described. Surely Clarke should have a veto to shut such an operation down if it doesn't act in his interests and it exists solely to make money off his name. Which may mean the Citizens United decision make see another appearance at the Supreme Court sometime in the future.