As Election Day nears, Republican congressional candidate and motorcycle enthusiast Allen West continues to haul in considerable dough from political action committees based outside of Florida.
There are the usual suspects -- $6,000 from the House Conservatives Fund, $2,500 from the NRA Political Victory Fund. But West has also been particularly blessed by a group of PACs that are known for collecting hefty sums from individual GOP donors, then using most of the cash to line the pockets of a direct mail firm instead of supporting candidates.
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West has received $15,000 from three PACs: Veterans for Victory, Black Republican PAC, and Freedom's Defense Fund. All three committees have the same address in Chantilly, Virginia. They also have the same treasurer, Scott Mackenzie, who, according to Salon.com, is also a campaign finance consultant at a direct mail firm called Base Connect Inc.
In August, Salon accused Base Connect of pocketing far too much of the cash it collects through its PACs.
Formerly known as BMW Direct, Base Connect has long been controversial for its practice of raising large sums of money for long-shot conservative candidates, who in turn pay Base Connect as much as 80 or 90 percent of the money raised for its services....
Base Connect can, through the PACs, send out fundraising solicitations each election cycle on the basis of evergreen issues like promoting black Republicans. Of the money raised by the four PACs, 60 to 70 percent typically goes to Base Connect and its affiliates. Meanwhile, the PACs have spent from as little as 2 percent to as much as 6 percent of the money raised on funding actual campaigns -- a strikingly small share. The rest of the PAC's funds go to operating expenses like bank and legal fees.
Some Republican strategists have spoken out against Base Connect. Since last October, federal election records show West has paid the firm at least $41,682.