High Plains Grifters
You see, a couple weeks ago, Adam Green (PCCC’s Treasurer and Grifter-in-Chief) registered the domain name “ColberSuperPAC” in an attempt to bleed donations and membership from Colbert’s Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (which can be found at <www.ColbertSuperPac.com>):
Progressive Change Campaign Committee Treasurer Adam Green purchased the URL ColberSuperPAC.com, omitting the t in Stephen Colbert’s name, and then redirected that URL to his own PAC web site in an apparent attempt to steal critical membership and donations away from Colbert’s PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Colbert announced Friday night on his show, The Colbert Report, more than 100,000 previous ABTT members need to sign up a second time because the organization is now a super-PAC.
According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Adam Green registered colbersuperpac.com at Godaddy.com, Inc. on July 1, 2011 for one year using the same address he used to register PCCC with the Federal Election Commission. Soon afterward, the URL began redirecting unwitting ABTT supporters to Green’s PCCC PAC website, soliciting memberships and donations intended for ABTT via a splash page similar to the graphic included here. If you attempted to become a member of ABTT via ColbertSuperPAC.com and recall having entered via a porthole resembling the one pictured with this story, you may have to try again.
It’s important to note that Green built a special splash page specifically for ColberSuperPAC.com redirects even though the page more resembles his own PAC’s web site than Colbert’s ColbertSuperPAC.com web site because Green having done so raises more questions about his actions.
Some past PCCC members believe the PAC has a history of questionable actions. As DailyKos.com blogger Willynel points out, “They stated in one email that they had received over 60,000 small donations over [an] issue. 60,000 over [a one week period] and change? That’s really not that much.” Leaving Willynel wondering, “Who funds PCCC?”
A search through the Federal Election Commission’s records revealed that PCCC reported total 2010 receipts as $2,559,647.00. Additionally PCCC reported that in 2010 $2,466,638.00 of their receipts came from individuals, with virtually all those contributions being small. This is in fact where PCCC appears to get the lion’s share of its funds.
Immediately after delivering a brief speech about his newly formed Super-PAC, Colbert told his supporters to keep their contributions small, “preferably under $50.00 so that I don’t have to report them.” If Green has been able to redirect these small donations intended for ABTT to PCCC instead, Green would not have to report either the donations or the members who provided those donations to the Federal Election Commission.
Among PCCC’s receipts for last year, Green reported receiving only $5,649.00 from other committees, with one of those contributions being a $450.00 in-kind contribution from Democracy for America. SoldOutsandSellOuts.net will not be investigating other committees’ operating practices unless those practices force the issue.
Members of the original ABTT and Colbert Nation fans who inadvertently mistyped the ColbertSuperPAC.com URL without the t in Colbert and ended up accidentally joining or sponsoring PCCC have a recourse. First, if you wish to cancel your membership, it should be as easy as it was to become a member, and the instructions to do so should be at the bottom of the emails you should be receiving from PCCC as a member. Then, if you wish to request a donation refund, you may return to the PCCC web site and use their return policy to ask for a refund of your donations. You may do this even if you made a legitimate donation if you feel you now have just cause based on Green’s recent behavior. That’s your choice.
If, however, you were redirected to the PCCC website when you were honestly trying to donate to ABTT via ColbertSuperPAC.com, you should be able to simply call the telephone number on the back of the credit or debit card that you used, explain the truth about what happened to them and ask them to arrange a refund to your card so that you can donate the money to Stephen Colbert’s ColbertSuperPAC.com as you originally intended.
If anyone still needs the name for Stephen Colbert’s organization, it’s Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Colbert’s associated political action committee website where you can go to become a member and to donate, in his own words, “preferably $50.00 or less so that I don’t have to report it” is http://www.ColbertSuperPAC.com/.
Sidenote: When I worked as an attorney in New York in 1999, I worked on matters related to cybersquatting and typosquatting. Before Congress passed the Anti-Cybersquatting Piracy Act and before Al Gore made the Internet so popular that every corporation decided to get in on the website game, cybersquatters would buy trademarked domain names and then “offer” to sell them to the trademark holder for a premium.
Typosquatting is a variation of cybersquatting, and is generally the purview of porn and penis enlargement spammers. Typosquatters will register a domain name that is very similar to a trademarked name in an attempt to make money off the mistakes of Internet Users. (For example, I remember that in 1999, www.dosney.com would resolve to a porn site. Sexxxy.)
Cybersquatting is illegal. Typosquatting can be illegal. While Green’s activities likely are not actionable under the Lanham Act (because I can’t imagine that there’s a substantial likelihood that an internet user would be confused and think that the PCCC is affiliated with Colbert’s PAC, and because there is no evidence that Green has offered or intends to offer to sell the faux site to Colbert for a fee), it certainly is shady– it is an attempt to make money off of innocent mistakes.
And, given PCCC co-founder Aaron Swartz’s recent indictment for wire and computer fraud, coupled with PCCC’s FEC troubles and Green’s outrage-based and dishonest fundraising tactics (for more posts on the subject, see The Reid Report here and here, and The People’s View posts on the subject) it seems to me that if you’ve donated money to these charlatans, you might want to consider asking for a refund.
PCCC purports to be using donations to elect bold progressives, yet in 2010 the PCCC spent $2 million while donating a mere $35,000 to federal and state candidate election efforts – that’s less than 2 percent. Still, somehow, Adam Green took in a tidy $78,000 salary. Funny, that.
These PCCC shenanigans certainly raise questions about the $40,000 which PCCC has raised to “Draft” Elizabeth Warren. One wonders, what will happen to all the funds raised in Elizabeth Warren’s name should she decide not to run? Hmm?
Green may have messed with the wrong guy: The Reddit crowd is verrah pro-Colbert. Then again, Aaron Swartz (PCCC co-founder along with Green) co-founded (or at least was heavily involved in the start up of) Reddit, so maybe it’s all a wash.
Either way, grifters gonna grift.
UPDATE: Needs more Beastie Boys (h/t @snkscoyote):
[image via Jay Carax]
[cross-posted at Balloon Juice]