Group impersonating Trump's campaign raises over $100,000: report
A group unaffiliated with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s reelection campaign raised over $100,000 in January after placing more than 200,000 robocalls, according to CNN’s KFile.
The Support American Leaders PAC, which KFile revealed is headed by 32-year-old Matthew Tunstall, has not spent any money on any campaign in the 2018 or 2020 cycle.
Tunstall reportedly has a history of crafting shadowy groups that fundraise off partisan ads, while seemingly doing little or nothing to put the funds to use for a political purpose, according to CNN’s KFile.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show Tunstall made over $300,000 through similar groups in 2016, according to the media site.
The PAC may be in violation of violation of FEC, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission rules on impersonation and ad disclosure after it used publicly available audio of Trump or mirrored Trump campaign pitches in its robocalls and failed to notify recipients of the source of the calls.
Tunstall told CNN all of the calls were legal and that any that began with “I’m Donald Trump” were the products of technical errors.
“This was a technical error if you heard this, there were many different variants that have been recently tested for different political ads regarding support for President Trump,” Tunstall wrote CNN in an email.
Tunstall added that he had been “instructed by multiple legal sources that using voice clips from politicians is acceptable and not considered ‘impersonating’ because politicians are public officials.”
“Regarding impersonation, Support American Leaders PAC has never willfully intended to do anything other than comply with the FEC regulations and support candidates like President Trump,” he also said while noting his group is not affiliated with the Trump campaign.
The Trump 2020 campaign said it has no connection with Tunstall’s group, filing a disavowal notice Tuesday.
Call center operators told KFile four times that the group behind the robocalls was the Trump campaign and that funds raised would go to Conservative Leaders PAC, which does not exist. Tunstall said the errors arose from an incorrect script.
KFile notes that Tunstall has a history of managing PACs that targeted both ends of the political spectrum. For instance, Buzzfeed reported in 2016 that he founded both Progressive Priorities PAC, a group that said it supported Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE, and Liberty Action Group, which claimed to support Trump.
Neither group donated to any candidate, and all the funds raised went to creating more ads or to Tunstall and unspecified media consultants.