James O’Keefe reveals a problem in ActBlue’s FEC filings

James O’Keefe, through his new organization, O’Keefe Media Group (“OMG”), is out with his first project, and it’s a doozy. A Maryland organization perusing FEC data noticed something peculiar about ActBlue donations: Senior citizens across the U.S. were repeatedly making relatively small-dollar donations that added up to big sums. And by “repeatedly,” I mean “thousands of times,” and by “big sums,” I mean “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” On the face of it, this pattern suggests that someone may be hiding illegal big-money donations by laundering them through smaller donors.

ActBlue is a clearinghouse organization for donations to individual candidates and causes that appeal to Democrat voters (and those to the left of the Democrats). It’s a very big concern (hyperlinks omitted):

ActBlue raised $19 million in its first three years, from 2004 to 2007. In the 2005-2006 campaign, the site raised $17 million for 1500 Democratic candidates, with $15.5 million going to congressional campaigns. By August 2007, the site had raised $25.5 million.

In the 2018 midterms elections, ActBlue raised $1.6 billion for Democratic candidates. Conor Lamb, Beto O’Rourke, and Kyrsten Sinema have worked with ActBlue.

In 2019, ActBlue raised roughly $1 billion for a wide variety of campaigns. The Daily Beast notes that between January and mid-July 2019, ActBlue brought in $420 million, and that “According to the organization, that total came from 3.3 million unique donors and was dispersed to almost 9,000 Democratic campaigns and organizations, with $246 million coming in the second quarter alone.”

In 2020, several fundraising records were broken. In the week following the murder of George Floyd, on May 31, over $19 million was raised, the highest single-day total so far that year. On June 1, that yearly record was again broken with $20 million in donations. Over half of donations in the week following the killing went to charitable (non-political) causes, including one ActBlue page devoted to a bail fund which raised over $1.5 million from over 20,000 donors. In the day following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, over $30 million was donated through ActBlue, again breaking the single-day fundraising record.

In 2022, ActBlue brought in $20.6 million on the day the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Because ActBlue is an entirely digital platform, it can track every donation—and, therefore, it annually submits to the FEC a list of every donation, no matter how small.

Image: An example of one of the bizarre donation patterns. YouTube screen grab.

A group of Maryland citizen journalists operating under the name Election Watch was reviewing ActBlue’s FEC filings and discovered something very peculiar: Across America, ordinary individuals were allegedly making thousands of individual donations, with the total money flowing to Democrat causes or candidates running into hundreds of thousands of dollars per donor. Some of these donation patterns would have required the people whose names and addresses are attached to the donations to have made several separate donations every single day.

With his new team, O’Keefe went to a few of the individuals whose names are on the FEC list to ask them if they were making thousands of donations totaling hundreds of dollars. The two friendly, coherent Democrats to whom he spoke denied doing so, and it’s easy to believe their denials are sincere and accurate:

The logical conclusion to draw from these patterns is that illegal donations are coming in for Democrat causes or candidates and are being laundered by getting dispersed through the accounts of hundreds of perfectly innocent small donors.

It’s easy enough to conclude that ActBlue is the culprit (if one assumes that what’s going on here is illegal), but I actually find that hard to believe. Given that ActBlue reports all transactions to the FEC, it would take huge arrogance, amounting to hubris, to flaunt that kind of law-breaking. On the other hand, it’s difficult to understand how they didn’t flag these bizarre donation patterns.

What’s obvious, though, is that someone somewhere is using the accounts of innocent Democrat donors to cover up something else. Now that Election Watch and OMG have broken the story, it’s time for the FEC to do its job and immediately investigate what’s really going on.

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