A leading fundraiser for the Republican party who ran multiple conservative political action committees has pleaded guilty to wire fraud today after raking in $10 million from small-donor supporters of the Tea Party movement but only giving slightly more than $48 thousand to political candidates.
Kelley Rogers, the Maryland-based head of the Conservative Majority Fund and the Tea Party Majority, used the rest of the funds to enrich himself and a group of friends and to settle legal fees in a lawsuit investigating his political activities. Rogers fraudulently funneled the contributions to his own purposes while continuing to solicit donations through campaigns that bragged about how successfully he was utilizing their dollars to combat President Barack Obama’s agendas and fight illegal immigration.
“Rogers swindled millions of dollars from individuals attempting to participate in our democratic process,” said Washington Field Office assistant director Timothy Slater. “Instead of using donations to provide assistance and support to military veterans, as he advertised, Rogers used the money to benefit himself and his associates.”
The FBI became interested in Rogers’ fundraising activities after an investigation by Politico and ProPublica found that his Conservative Majority Fund used donor information that it received on behalf of the American Conservative Union (ACU) — the group behind the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — to suitable targets for its fraudulent activities.
The ACU denies any knowledge of the actions that Rogers and his PACs were taking.
Now that he’s entered his guilty plea, Rogers is set for sentencing in January. He will also be forfeiting any money he earned from the scam and paying nearly half a million dollars in restitution for his crimes.
With the retirement of a Republican commissioner on the Federal Election Commission essentially shitting down the regulatory body due to a lack of a quorum, this may be the last prosecution of an aptly-described “scam PAC” for quite some time.
Progressives can look at Rogers and see the perfect example of right-wing politicians more concerned with enriching themselves than working for the constituents whose views they are meant to represent. The only bright side is that by siphoning the Tea Party supporters’ donations away from the purposes that they were intended to fund, the conservative agenda wasn’t advanced as much as they might have otherwise been.
It also teaches a lesson to donors that they should thoroughly investigate any PAC to which they plan on donating their hard-earned cash before they send them any checks.
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Original reporting by Matthew Chapman at RawStory.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.