Top Republicans Hit Up QAnon Conspiracy Nuts for Cash
Devin Nunes is the latest big GOP name to appear in campaign-fundraising emails via Big League Politics, the home of Seth Rich conspiracy theories and Charlottesville apologists.
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Some of the most prominent names in Republican politics are hitting up readers of a leading right-wing conspiracy website to raise money and build their contact lists. The latest is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), whose campaign sent out a fundraising appeal Wednesday on the email list of the site Big League Politics.
Run by consultants for far-right Republicans such as Roy Moore, Corey Stewart, and Paul Nehlen, Big League’s editorial side is overseen by Patrick Howley, a former Breitbart writer who has called Infowars leader Alex Jones “my Walter Cronkite.” Under Howley’s leadership, the site has given voice to an array of fringy conspiracy theories, such as the recently popularized “QAnon” movement. It has promoted claims that the late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in 2016 due to his involvement in the hacking of Democratic National Committee email accounts, cast doubt on widely accepted findings of chemical-weapon attacks by the Syrian government, and tried to explain away a white supremacist’s slaying of a demonstrator at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.
Such outlandish content makes Big League Politics an odd choice for mainstream Republican candidates and groups to use for political advertising. Nunes campaign fundraising emails have shown up on the BLP list at least eight times since June. Others advertising on the list include the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). At least one of Cruz’s emails, a fundraising appeal sent June 20, did not contain a legally required “paid for by” disclaimer.
None of the campaigns popping up on BLP’s email list have reported paying Mustard Seed Media, BLP’s owner, or any other firm associated with the site. And in all likelihood, they don’t even know that their fundraising pitches are showing up on this email list at all. Instead, those campaigns appear to have landed on the list by way of a leading Republican political consultancy called Targeted Victory. Each of the emails links to the candidate’s or group’s landing page on that firm’s online fundraising platform, Victory Passport. Targeted Victory, which declined to comment on its work with specific clients, markets that service with a deserved boast: “We’re trusted by the biggest names in GOP fundraising like the NRCC, NRSC, and Team Ryan because our platform delivers a better bottom line.”
Ideologically oriented email lists like Big League Politics’ are often marketed to large vendors, which can either rent those lists or enter into revenue-sharing agreements with their owners, then use them on their own clients’ behalf. The vendors generally don’t make any claim to editorial or political alignment with the companies that own the lists. But for a news website such as Big League, which derives revenue from advertising, a buyer as large as Targeted Victory can be a windfall. That, in turn, means more resources to publish stories such as “WITNESS: ATF and DEA Agents Killed Seth Rich.”