Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Fake Latino Reform Group Appears in Nevada

Apparently the Nevada Angle/Reid Senate race is going ugly. First, it was radio ads against Sharron Angle from a fake Tea Party group called The Patriot Majority, funded by labor unions and Harry Reid supporters. Now, radio ads urging Hispanics not to vote in the upcoming election come from a fake reform group called Latinos for Reform.

There is scant Federal Elections Commission (FEC) data on this group, although has some information.

Latinos for Reform: Overview

Donor List

An alternate source of information is from Their data matches the information.

From the information, it appears that the organization raised most of their money in 2008 and spent all but about $25,000. According to NPR, the group ran advertisements against candidate Obama in the 2008 Presidential race. The NPR article also indicates that Latinos for Reform has connections to a Republican political consultant named Robert Posada.

Searching for the address at the bottom of the Latinos for Reform web page, yields hits to one of the contributors of record for Latinos for Reform. The address itself appears to be in rural Virginia.

One Marketing & Research Inc.
205 North Berry Lane
Madison, VA 22727

The company appears not have an independent web site. Searching for One Marketing & Research yields a LinkedIn profile for one Robert Posada of One Marketing &Research.

Robert Posada's name appears on a 2008 IRS filing for Latinos for Reform. Robert de Posada is listed as the "contact person" on line 6a. Similarly, Robert Garcia de Posada of One Marketing & Research Inc. is listed as a contributor on page 2, 6th contributor from the top.

Here's a classic Jimmy Kimmel send up on the situation.

See also …

Soquel by the Creek, “A Fake Tea Party Group Appears in Nevada

NPR, “Promoting An Ethnic Wedge Issue,” October 24, 2008

Fire Dog Lake, “Latinos for Reform Run By Bush Pioneers and Appointees

Huffington Post, “GOP-Linked 'Latinos For Reform' Airs Nevada Ads Urging Hispanics Not To Vote

Talking Points Memo (TPM), “Just Coming Right Out & Saying It

Talking Points Memo (TPM), "Maker Of Ad Telling Latinos Not To Vote Has Long History In GOP"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Resources for Tracking Campaign Spending

A variety of people have requested information on how to track campaign spending. Here are a few of my personal favorites. I would love to hear if you have others to suggest.

Center for Responsive Politics

My all-time favorite tracking tool for campaign spending is, run by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Their search engine could use some work, but the information is generally there for those willing to dig a little deeper.

Here are some of the things that you can find.

Influence Explorer

Influence Explorer is a great tool courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation. It doesn't provide as much detail as, but it's a great starting point to see overall spending and relationships.

The web site is another great resource. I find it particularly useful for tracking Californian politicians, my home state. Here are some of the things that I can find using MAPLight.
Influence Tracker

Influence Tracker is a fun tool courtesy of Wired Magazine, MAPLight, and Enter the name of a federal-level politician, last name first. It then creates a web page showing the contributions to the politician and (my personal favorite), a NASCAR-like shirt with the logos of the largest contributors.

The text box in the lower left corner includes code so that you can embed the result in your own website. Here's an example screen capture for Harry Reid, who is running for U.S. Senate in Nevada.

Don't confuse Influence Tracker with Influence Explorer listed above.

National Institute on Money in State Politics is another good site that is very complementary to, which focuses primarily on national races.

I find the site itself difficult, but it often comes up during Google searches. It only shows contributions to a campaign, and not spending with a PAC or a 527 committee.

I find it easiest to enter a search string directly in the browser address field. For example, here is a search for George Soros spending during the current election cycle. This gives you the general pattern. is a great resource for tracking campaign spending in California. It's fairly simplistic, but timely and easy.

For example, I used the specific page on those funding Yes on Proposition 27 to write a recent article revealing how the donors supporting Proposition 27 are well-connected to a single political party. It's easy to search for a specific donor or amount.

Federal Election Commission (FEC)

The Federal Election Commission web site is the ultimate resource for tracking federal elections spending, including PACs and 572s.
Internal Revenue Service
California Secretary of State

The ultimate resource for tracking campaign spending in California is the Secretary of State's office. Likely, there are similar sites for other states.

For example, I needed historical data on those funding opposition to 2005's Proposition 77, a previous attempt at redistricting reform.


The Huffington Post FundRace tool is another tracking tool for campaign donations. It has some relatively good top-level tracking tools on where money is going by occupation and city.


Here's an oldie but goodie from NPR dated from 2008. NPR has had some good journalism about "shadow money" (examples here and here), but I do have some concerns about possible corrupting influence going forward due to the Soros/Open Society Foundation investment.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Fake Tea Party Group Appears in Nevada

[updated 24-OCT-2010]

While listening to The Jerry Doyle Show via the web from a Las Vegas radio station KDWN, I heard a political advertisement from a supposed Tea Party group against Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle and supporting another candidate named Scott Ashjian. The group called themselves The Patriot Majority PAC, which certainly sounds like a Tea Party organization. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Patriot Majority has spent over $831,000 against Sharron Angle as of October 15, 2010.

Here is an audio clip of the ad, although this one is slightly different than the one that I heard. This is the raw feed, including the preamble information probably used by the radio station.

Having never heard of the group, I searched for them on I found little available yet, except for a blog post, describing the organization (look for the group's logo). also lists the independent expenditures so far. There is a well-funded 527 organization with a similar name with significant contributions in 2010 and 2008 from AFSCME and SEIU.

Okay, so now it's off to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) web site.

According to required financial disclosures, The Patriot Majority PAC received nearly $2 million as of 23-OCT-2010.

Looking through the FEC disclosures, I find the following major contributors of $10,000 or more.

3. Guy David Gundlach: $300,000
4. MGM Resorts and MGM Mirage: $300,000
9. Carpenter's Legislative Improvement Committee, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners: $60,000
10. San Pablo Lytton Casino (San Pablo, CA): $50,000
11. Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) PAC: $20,000

According to FEC filings, The Patriot Majority PAC "committee will not use those funds to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, to federal candidates or committees." It's funny how everybody aware of the system knows that this is baloney.

Let's look again at the major donors. More than a few are associated with major labor unions that are listed on the list of major political donors, known as the Heavy Hitters list. Here are a few examples.
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is #11 on the Heavy Hitters list with 95% of their contributions going to Democrats.
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is #13 on the Heavy Hitters list with 98% of their contributions going to Democrats.
  • American Association for Justice (AAJ) is #6 on the Heavy Hitters list with 90% of their contributions going to Democrats.
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners is #12 on the Heavy Hitters list with 89% of their contributions going to Democrats.
What about individual donors? Do they primarily donate to Democrats?
  • According to, Guy David Gundlach, who gave $300,000 to The Patriot Majority, also gave $2,400 to Harry Reid's campaign (the maximum legally allowed) and $10,000 to the Democratic Party of Nevada. Harry Reid is the incumbent Senator in Nevada running against Sharron Angle. A person of the same name also gave $2,400 to Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, a Democrat, but the donation was from a California address. Likewise, Guy David Gundlach also gave $12,400 to the Reid Nevada Fund (see page 28, first contributor).
  • According to, gives exclusively to Democrats in 2010 and primarily to Democrats in 2008.
  • According to Influence Explorer, Clean Energy Fuels Corporation gives primarily to Republicans, but has supported Harry Reid.
  • According to Influence Explorer, Harrah's Entertainment, which may be different than Harrah's Operating Company, is a major contributor to Harry Reid.
  • According to Influence Explorer, MGM Mirage was a major donor to both Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, although their political contributions were fairly evenly balanced between parties.
  • One strange member of the list is the San Pablo Lytton Casino in California, which is apparently part of the Lytton Rancheria Of California. I'm not sure what interest they have in this fight other than the casino owners obviously have connections to Nevada casinos.
I also looked up to see who owns the web domain for The Patriot Majority.

The site is registered to "Craig Varoga" with an "" E-mail address. Craig Varoga is also the Treasurers name for the FEC filings. Who is Craig Varoga? According to the Independent Strategies web site ...

Craig Varoga is a national political strategist whose presidential experience includes managing former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s campaign for president, serving as national field director for retired Four Star General Wesley Clark, managing the Texas Truth Squad in 2000 and running the state-research program for the Clinton-Gore re-election. ... During the 1990s, Varoga served as communications director to Senator Harry Reid .... Partner at Varoga & Associates and founder of the Patriot Majority, Varoga writes a monthly column ("Ask the Campaign Doctor") for Campaigns & Elections magazine.
But still, who is Craig Varoga? According to a Michelle Malkin post from April, 2010.
Before them, it was Craig Varoga--a shady Democrat political operative and overseer of a convoluted, money-shuffling web of 527s. He launched in January to target Republicans who supported the Tea Party movement and to prevent the "radical" and "dangerous" fiscal accountability agenda from "gaining legislative traction."
Joseph Abrams also wrote about Craig Varoga and friends back in February, 2010.
Here's how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men -- Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money -- tens of millions of dollars -- gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean -- for the most part.
And this whitewash is entirely legal, say election law experts, who told that this arrangement more or less the norm in Washington.

"It's not illegal but it is, I think, dishonest on the part of the organizations," said Paul Ryan, a legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "And there's a reason they do it: they know voters don't like outsiders coming in to sway the vote."
Outside of that firm, the center of their activity appears to be a single office in Southeast D.C. -- 300 M Street, Suite 1102 -- which plays host to a sprawling political shell game they have established.

Public records show at least seven political shops listed in Suite 1102, most of which are essentially clones of one another, but all of which have offered money -- from measly thousands to game-changing millions -- in state-level elections across the country:
The APPC, which developed the anti-tea party ads, has gotten all of its money for 2010 from Patriot Majority and from Citizens for Progress, which is also called Patriot Majority West.
The 300 M Street, Suite 1102, Washington DC address appears to be the current address for political law firm Sandler Reiff & Young and for business law and litigation firm Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler. The "Sandler" in both firms are cousins Paul Mark Sandler of Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler and Joseph E. Sandler of Sandler Reiff & Young. Paul Mark Rosen of Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler has been involved in high-profile campaign law cases.

USA Today: "Feds probe for Clinton campaign violations", October, 2004.

Talk about Astroturf, I'm calling this one TOTALLY BUSTED! on The Patriot Majority. By all measures, this is a sham Tea Party group and is purposefully deceptive. Anybody from The Patriot Majority care to refute these findings? For you Sarah Palin fans, refute means refudiate. :-)

Source Data
See also ...

NEW:, "Shape-Shifting by Liberal Dark Money Groups Seems Meant to Confuse"

Center for Public Integrity, "Craig Varoga"

Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Reid, Angle even on campaign cash"

MSNBC (30-MAR-2010)

SF Weekly, "Jackpot: How four tiny Indian tribes, with help from powerful gambling interests, are trying to transform the Bay Area into a slot machine Mecca," October 27, 2004. Article about the Lytton Casino and Indian gaming in California.

Craig Varoga, Varoga & Associates: This site looks nearly identical to the Independent Strategies web site.

The Big Spenders Behind the Scenes

Many political pundits and even the President and Vice-President themselves are decrying the amount of money being spent behind the scenes in the 2010 election. I happen to agree, as I have been concerned about this for about a decade now. Nearly half a trillion dollars, some $480 million, was spent just on 527 committee activity in the 2004, 2006, 2008, and so far in the 2010 elections.

However, look at who and which organizations are spending behind the scenes by examining the contribution to 527 political organizations, otherwise known as "soft money." This money is not subject to the same legal constraints as direct contributions to a state or national candidate.

Fortunately, organizations like the Center for Responsive Politics ( scour the required campaign disclosure statements and publish the results.

Here are the total for the top contributors to 527 committees for the time period covering the 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 election cycles. Obviously, not all the 2010 contributions are included as the 2010 election is still in progress.

A few things are notable from the table and chart.
It is also interesting to see the contributions by election cycle. It becomes obvious that SEIU is the dominant 527 committee donor. It also becomes obvious of the huge sums spent in the 2004 and 2008 elections, which were Presidential election years.

See also ...