The National Journal has published a fascinating article, Look-Alike Sites Funnel Big Money to Mystery PAC, that traces a legal political fundraising phishing scheme:
Noam Neusner, a former White House speechwriter for President George W. Bush, thought he had given $250 to Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel.
Instead, Neusner was one of nearly 3,000 donors who stumbled onto a network of look-alike campaign websites that have netted more than $570,000 this year in what some are calling a sophisticated political phishing scheme. . . .
The websites have the trappings of official campaign pages: smiling candidate photos and videos, issue pages, and a large, red “donate” button at the top. Except that proceeds from the shadow sites go not to the candidates pictured, but to an obscure conservative group run by an Arizona activist.
Such doppelgänger sites exist for nearly three-dozen prominent GOP figures, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and donation magnets such as Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Allen West of Florida.
Peter Pasi, who specializes in digital GOP fundraising, said the group is “exploiting donors.” “The intent is to trade on someone else’s name for your benefit,” he said.
Republican officials are concerned that the group, the Coalition of Americans for Political Equality PAC, is siphoning away money from needy GOP candidates while duping donors.
A lead from Robin Marty showed the connection with CAPE-PAC's communication Director Sarah Bowman and conservative Minnesota operatives Margaret Martin and Robert "Bob" Shipman via a private research firm called Proxometry LL. Bowman is the communications director of CAPE-PAC. It's a classic "weak tie" created by getting a job.
Bowman was a Legislative Analyst for Proxometry in 2011, while also serving as communications director for CAPE-PAC. Bowman's Linked In Profile listing for CAPE-PAC states that she started with the superPAC in March 2011.
According to her Linked-In Profile, Martin served as Lead Research Analyst at Proxometry from August 2010 to February 2011. She now works as a research consultant for the MNGOP House Caucus.
It's unclear whether their time at Proxometry overlapped.
Proxometry's Facebook page "About" section reads:
We exist to provide citizens and critical political actors with tools to understand and interpret the legislative process.
Understanding complex legislative and bureaucratic processes and organizing them - aided by the latest technology - for effective communication to the voting public, to stakeholders and candidates is what we do.
We merge expert legislative analytics with the ability to deliver those analytics in a dynamic online format. We exist to provide citizens and critical political actors with tools to understand and interpret the legislative process.
Proxometry LLC offers a wide range of unique analytical tools focusing on legislative actions and their impact on citizens. Most analysis of state legislative action tends to be of the macro variety, with polls and punditry leading the way. But legislation is at a level of complexity that escapes both of these types of analysis.
At Proxometry we believe that transparency and accountability are essential to good government.
Business records at the Secretary of State's office show Proxometry LLC to be an inactive company.
Bowman's Linked In profile lists "Public Relations/ Investigator, Midwest Paranormal Investigation Society" in addition to her career as the CAPE-PAC comm chief. Perhaps that's helpful for figuring out just what CAPE-PAC plans to do with that money. In January, sher wrote How Being A Young, Female Republican Helps Me With Ghost Hunting for the Waukee Iowa Patch.
Photo: An elephant ghost of Republican fundraising?