David Bossie’s Citizen United Targets Old People With Dementia

Because scammers gotta scam. David Bossie, who is not only the founder of Citizen United, a rightwing activist group, but also an advisor to Donald Trump has a very interesting fundraising model. And by interesting, I mean vile (boldface mine):

Conservative groups stand to rake in massive sums of money by allying themselves against a Clinton presidency and then sending out letters hitting up donors for cash to help them keep fighting her.

One group in particular is poised for a windfall: Citizens United, a group that makes conservative documentaries. It’s best known for its role in the 2010 Supreme Court decision, and its president, David Bossie, is currently taking a leave absence to work as deputy campaign manager for the Trump campaign.

And it has a history of sending out mailers that raise serious ethical questions—and that may prey on senior citizens with dementia and Alzheimer’s….

Jennifer Bell, who runs the blog Drowning in Junk, knows all about this. She helped care for an elderly relative—now deceased, who we will not name out of respect for the family’s privacy—who once wrote a $100 check to Citizens United. Bell said the relative suffered from dementia, and after writing that first check, received frequent mailings and phone calls asking her to give more. Sometimes she would get five pieces of mail per week from the group. The woman was eventually hospitalized, so Bell had her mail redirected to her own address to help her manage the onslaught.

That’s when she started to notice how disturbing some of the mailers were. One mail piece, which had Bossie’s name on it, said the relative had sent Citizens United a $50 check which was lost in the mail.

“I am writing this letter to ask for your forgiveness and understanding with a recent mix-up with the Post Office,” Bossie wrote. “As a result, we were unable to receive your $50 donation.”

“Citizens United was the victim of a clerical mistake that temporarily decreased our ability to receive all of our mail,” the letter continues. “I would say I am shocked but what do you expect from a government run organization!”

…“If you can see it in your heart to re-send your $50 in the included postage-provided envelope it would be a blessing to us,” the letter concludes.

Bell said her relative never sent that $50 check in the first place. Bell’s family had taken away the relative’s checkbook before she was hospitalized, so they knew she hadn’t sent a check. Moreover, how would Bossie know she had sent one if it never actually got to him?

Why would Citizens United send out a fundraising solicitation that appears to be a lie? Bell said she suspects the group designs mailers to prey on elderly people with memory loss.

The fact that they’re sending this fraudulent piece of mail that says, ‘Oh, we didn’t get your $50’—that means they know the person has forgotten they didn’t send a check,” Bell said. “If you send them multiple pieces in a day, they’ll write a check for every piece because of dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

This is nothing new for Republicans. Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee was caught sending people letters with “NOTICE OF DELINQUENCY”:

On Wednesday, Kristen Burzynski shared to Facebook a notice her grandmother got in the mail from the Republican National Committee. Her grandmother, said Burzynski, has never registered as Republican or made a political contribution, so the letter might have been brushed off as junk mail had it not been for the words “NOTICE OF DELINQUENCY” printed in bold red letters on the envelope.

“She gets this ‘urgent’ letter in the mail, causing her to immediately panic and wonder whether her house is secure or whether she is in serious financial trouble,” wrote Burzynski in the post.

The contents of the letter also levied accusations of “delinquency” — because the Republican Party had allegedly contacted Burzynski’s grandmother “multiple times” without response. (The nerve of that woman!)

“We need you to come forward today and send a contribution of $25 or more to help make sure we have a fully funded Republican National Committee,” continued the letter writer, who was kind enough to include the convenience of a credit card form.

And they start ’em young too–in 2004, the College Republicans targeted elderly people:

The College Republican National Committee is under fire for using front organizations to collect millions of dollars in contributions, including money from elderly people with dementia…

Internal disputes over fundraising tactics have been brewing among the College Republican groups for at least three years, but they surfaced in late October, after publication of damaging news reports in the Seattle Times and the Herald-Sun of Durham, N.C.

The Times reported that a number of elderly donors gave far more money than they could afford.

“I don’t have any more money,” Cecilia Barbier, 90, a retired church worker in New York who made more than 300 donations totaling nearly $100,000, told the paper. “That was all the savings. … Now I’m scrounging.”

Monda Jo Millsap, 68, of Van Buren, Ark., told the Times she emptied a savings account and then got a $5,000 bank loan to give a total of $59,000.

Hoplin declined to be interviewed for this report. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “We’ve come to discover that there are a few donors who have been confused, a few donors who have some form of dementia, who aren’t entirely sure of the amount of money that they’re giving–and how often they’re giving.” He said any donors who believe they were misled will have their money refunded.

Note that the offer to refund people only came after two separate investigations.

I guess the biblical principle of ‘honor your father and mother’ is honored only in the breach.

This, of course, has no bearing whatsoever on how the Republican Party supposedly lost its way.

It’s also probably preferable to voter intimidation. I guess.

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