As SW reported last year, Bellevue gun-rights guru Alan Gottlieb tends to personally benefit from the side businesses connected to his Second Amendment Foundation's political activities. He was paid $36,000 as SAF's vice-president in 2008, for example, and another $36,000 as chairman of the Citizens Committee to Keep and Bear Arms. But his for-profit private side business was paid almost $600,000 by the two non-profits for mail and marketing services.
Steven Dewall Gottlieb: "Fear, hate, and revenge" pay off
TPMmuckraker, the online political investigative-reporting site, wondered this week if Gottlieb was in some way profiting through another of his many Bellevue enterprises, a political fundraiser called American Political Action Committee (AmeriPAC). For sure, AmeriPAC was benefiting from its money drive: In the 2009-10 political cycle, Ameripac received $1.3 million in donations to help get conservatives elected to office. But it gave only $1,300 to a campaign-related cause, the effort to defeat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.
One AmeriPAC missive about the House race in Washington's 1st congressional district declares, "We Must Send Emails do Video Ads and Full Page Ads in National Newspapers informing the public about an inept, inexperienced and dangerous Obama White House." But there's no evidence AmeriPAC has done any of those things, beyond send emails.
The other million-plus was plowed back into AmeriPAC's bank account to pay costs of raising more money that might or might not be spent as donors may have intended. The result: AmeriPAC, using a kind of political pyramid scheme, fattens itself up as it leverages ever more money under the conservative banner.
Is Gottlieb making a profit on the side as well? TPM said it could find no evidence of that. Most of the donations - almost $1 million- have been used to pay Diener Consultants, a Pennsylvania "email marketing software and related professional services" firm, according to its sparse website, offering a "streamline production time to maximize your return on investment."
It's not clear what kind of arrangement Gottlieb has with Diener, which has promoted the annual sea-going Cruise For Liberty "for true patriots" which features Gottlieb, Bob Barr and other conservative speakers in the "battle to reclaim America."
Diener reportedly did work for Alan Keyes' 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns. According to the Arizona Republic, Diener also ran the failed 2005 California congressional campaign of Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist. But he was none too pleased with their services, telling the paper, "I fired them the day after my campaign was over." [Gilchrist is a former supporter of ex-Seattle prostitute-turned-accused-murderer Shawna Forde]. As part of work on a separate Minuteman project, Diener was in 2007 named in a lawsuit by an Arizona man who was angry that the Minuteman failed to use a large donation to build an "Israel-style" fence on the border, as they had promised.
Asked by TPM if the AmeriPAC solicitations promising support for candidates is misleading, Gottlieb said, "Oh no, because we've already donated to campaigns, you'll see in our next report when it comes out. A lot of our email is going into the districts where the campaigns are happening. We're helping nationalize the election on key issues right now."
Among those fund-raising emails were some with subject lines designed to give a conservative a heart attack: "Obama Plays 'Russian Roulette' With Supreme Court" ... "Illegals March Terrorizing American Cities" ... "Stop Reid's Extreme Left-Wing Agenda."
But they fit Gottlieb's successful theory of raising millions for his non-profits (and benefiting through his side businesses) using scare tactics. As he told SW last year, "Fear, hate, and revenge are three very powerful motivating factors in not just political fundraising but in politics as a whole. That is why negative TV and radio ads work so well. We all hate them, but we do respond to them."