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Upstanding College Republicans under more fire for bilking seniors

Eric Hoplin, the weasly, unethical national chairman of College Republicans.

Yes, these are clean-cut, true-blue, all-Americans with conservative values. Their defense is that they were naive stooges for the RNC, misled and lied to. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of individuals. (WPost):

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.

During the 2004 campaign, the group sent out direct-mail solicitations under such letterheads as “Republican Headquarters 2004” and “Republican Election Committee.”

One four-page letter asked prospects to send $1,000 together with an American flag pin for President Bush to wear to “Republican Headquarters” to ensure that Bush knows “there are millions who are giving him the shield of God to protect him in the difficult days ahead.”

In small print at the bottom of one page, the letter notes: “A project of and paid for by College Republican National Committee.”

Many donors complained that they thought the money was going directly to the Republican Party, and not to the college group, which is no longer affiliated with the GOP. The controversy over the letters has produced angry responses from leaders of state College Republican chapters, including those in Washington state, North Carolina and New York.

The University of Washington College Republicans approved a resolution calling on Eric Hoplin, chairman of the national committee, “to take full responsibility for his actions,” acknowledge that those actions have substantially harmed the College Republicans grass-roots organization and “promptly resign.”

Dan Centinello, New York College Republicans chairman, complained that the national leaders have not taken prompt and decisive action to correct the situation. “I don’t want to see hard work by all of us be tarnished by a fundraising scandal,” he said.

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

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 that she emptied a savings account, then got a $5,000 bank loan to give a total of $59,000.

In the immediate aftermath, Hoplin e-mailed top state officials of the organization, telling them not to speak to the news media. “We need the story to go away,” he wrote. “The story is full of lies and distortions written by a well-known liberal who is out to get us. If the press asks you about it, tell them you have no comment.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding