Requiem for a loser: Trump swindles his followers | Editorial

Just when Americans have learned how to block solicitations from Nigerian princes, the President of the United States has ensnared millions of us in his own email scam.

Donald Trump — who is of the opinion that money can do anything and is therefore likely to do anything for money — has been begging donors to give to his “Election Defense Fund,” sending out more than 200 emails with screaming subject lines such as “The Recount Results were BOGUS” and “I need you now more than ever.”

If you click through and read carefully, you’ll find a classic swindle: While the premise is to use these contributions to help Trump’s legal efforts — none of which are likely to overturn any election results —  60% of the donations under $5,000 actually go to the president’s Save America Leadership PAC, while the rest goes to the Republican National Committee.

Since Election Day, the president has collected $170 million, and that sum will keep rising — many donors will get stuck with additional payments, because they were automatically opted in to make weekly donations by a prechecked box.

There’s a term for this: Scam PAC. It fits the classic definition, former FEC Chair Ann Ravel told CBS, because “They are defrauding the donors by telling them the money is used for one purpose when it is actually being used for something else.”

Another term for it is slush fund. That’s what the Paul Ryan of Common Cause called it in the Washington Post, because the money can be applied in any way the owner chooses with Leadership PACs. There is no personal-use prohibition on how it is spent. Trump can use it on hair care products if he chooses.

No doubt, the president has multiple motives in extending this charade about a rigged election that wasn’t, but it is increasingly obvious that it’s not because his ego has been damaged. He knows that he can raise a ton of money by convincing millions of people that he needs help to expose fraud.

The minute he concedes, the grift ends.

It is his longtime business model, one he used to separate many others from their wallets — selling fake diplomas at his fake university, or moving money from his own charity to pay for legal fees, just to name a few.

In the case of this particular stunt, however, experts wonder why there is such a need for deception, even if lies come so naturally to him.

“It would be better if the fundraising were more up front in their appeals,” said Mike DuHaime, the veteran Republican strategist. “Many people think they are giving to a fund that will challenge the 2020 election results, when that’s not the case. Trump would probably raise almost as much money if he was direct, and said it was about his own political future.”

It is hard to fathom a political future for Trump.

Of course, it is also hard to fathom Trump making an honest wage that doesn’t involve tossing his hat onto a sidewalk and juggling lemons for nickels.

One would wish that a lame duck president, unshackled by campaign politics, might at least pay some attention to a disease that is killing more than 10,000 Americans per week, however. Or do something to help workers and small businesses. Or deal with the record levels of food insecurity.

But Trump has always been governed by avarice, and he would traffic in black market kitten tongues if it returned a profit.

Now, with the electoral college vote drawing near and his brand carrying the stench of a loser, he regards America as a market full of suckers. As with all things Trump, caveat emptor.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-12-04 02:50:13 -0800