Sharron Angle Rides Corrupt Base Connect Direct Mail Service to Big Fundraising Numbers

Everyone’s marveling at Sharron Angle’s $14 million dollar haul in the last quarter for her election campaign against Harry Reid in Nevada. Angle, last seen making up the name of a city in Texas to back up her nonsensical fearmongering about the institution of Sharia law, may have a cash advantage against Reid in the final weeks of the very close campaign, if that $14 million gets funneled into TV ads and GOTV operations in the state. But there’s plenty of reason to believe that a majority of that money will go right back into the pockets of the corrupt fundraiser she hired for direct mail efforts.

Last quarter, we learned that Angle paid $600,000 to Base Connect, a very shady operator in Republican politics. Base Connect runs a sophisticated direct mail campaign out of their Washington offices. However, they take large sums of the money they raise for Republican candidates for their own expenses, in some cases up to 96% of the total haul. When Base Connect was known as BMW Direct, they used this program in past cycles to fleece long-shot GOP candidates and raise money on their behalf without ever giving the money to the candidates. The challengers got notoriety for big fundraising numbers, but never got the cash.

The catch is that as much 75 or 80 or even 95 percent of the money raised is paid back to Base Connect and its “partner” companies (which are based in the same suite in the same building just off K Street in Washington). GOP consultant Bill Pascoe dubbed this “subprime fundraising.” And Erick Erickson once said that candidates who use the firm are in danger of losing RedState’s endorsement, presumably because conservative donors’ money is going to a fundraising agency rather than actually helping the cause. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) dropped all ties with Base Connect after Talking Points Memo reported in March he was paying the firm 75 percent in fundraising fees.

In a follow-up, Justin Elliott learned that Angle deputy campaign director Jordan Gehrke used to be the director for business development at Base Connect.

Angle’s donors who give through Base Connect send their checks to a DC address rather than through to Nevada.

We won’t know how much Base Connect will take from Angle’s fundraising until all the final election reports get filed. But that might not happen until after the election. For now, if you see Angle failing to capitalize on this fundraising success with any actual campaign spending, you’ll know that money solicited from direct mail donors all over the country benefited some shady consultants back in DC rather than the actual candidate.

UPDATE: I’ve obtained a direct mail piece from Sharron Angle, clearly put out by Base Connect. You can view it here. Note the DC address, once again, for “Friends of Sharron Angle.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen