A Republican fundraiser pleaded guilty Tuesday to using fraudulent promises of support for conservative candidates for office and military veterans to bilk donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The details of Kelley Rogers’ scheme were at once brazen and familiar, in which he and a cadre of unnamed consultants used a huge email marketing campaign to solicit mostly small-dollar contributions with promises that it would be spent on political and charitable causes. The money was actually used to continue building their own in-house list of donors that they could hit up in the future—and rent out to clients willing to pay them for access.
Rogers’ guilty plea represents one of the highest-profile convictions to date involving a scam PAC, or a political group created to funnel donor money to its own executives and consultants. But while the Justice Department has stepped up its prosecution of such groups of late, Rogers, unlike other recent targets, was not just an obscure grifter who found a way to make a quick buck; Rogers’ business for years epitomized the legal and ethical pitfalls of a sector of a political fundraising industry that has proliferated over the past decade. And at least in Rogers’ case, it existed for little purpose but to perpetuate and enhance its own financial prospects.