Dick Morris' lawyers have reportedly confirmed that the conservative commentator's website received money in a fundraising scheme involving his mailing list, the conservative outlet Newsmax, and his organization Super PAC for America. Morris is also reportedly distancing himself from the super PAC despite previously stating that he "formed" the group and it's "my organization."
Media Matters wrote on December 7 that Morris aggressively fundraised for the super PAC, which then apparently funneled money back to Morris through rentals of his DickMorris.com email list.
According to Federal Elections Commission data, Morris' Super PAC for America paid Newsmax Media roughly $1.7 million for "fundraising" in October and November. Dick Morris' email list is operated by Newsmax. In the month before the 2012 election, Morris sent at least 21 emails to his mailing list featuring fundraising pitches that were "paid for by Super PAC for America," meaning that a significant portion of the super PAC's money likely went to renting Morris' own email list. Super PAC for America also "paid for" at least 25 emails to Newsmax.com's main email list during the same period.
On her January 4 program, Rachel Maddow reported that she received a letter from Morris' lawyers confirming that "some of" the money paid to Newsmax "was to broker the DickMorris.com mailing list, but they dispute that it was a substantial portion."
From the program:
MADDOW: But that money that goes to Newsmax, does any of that money that goes to Newsmax for advertising, ultimately come back to Dick Morris' own enterprise, to DickMorris.com, right? Since paying Newsmax for the use of the DickMorris.com email list is one the ways that Dick Morris makes money, we raised the prospect that a substantial portion of what Dick Morris was raising through his super PAC, supposedly to defeat Barack Obama, was actually just being redirected back to himself, through these expenditures to Newsmax. And I use that word on the air, "substantial."
In truth, we do not know what proportion of the money raised by Dick Morris and his super PAC, supposedly to defeat Barack Obama, was actually redirected to Mr. Morris himself. We don't know how much. Nowhere in the FEC document does it say how much of the money that went to Newsmax ended up eventually going back to Dick Morris, under the auspices of brokering his email list or for any other reason.
But Mr. Morris`s lawyers do confirm that Newsmax is the broker for the DickMorris.com mailing list. They do confirm that the super PAC money was paid to Newsmax. They do confirm that what some of what that money was for was to broker the DickMorris.com mailing list, but they dispute that it was a substantial proportion.
I do not have evidence whether or not it was a substantial proportion. So, I should not have used that word, mea culpa. I`m happy to correct that part of it. When we get stuff wrong I'm happy to make a correction.
But on the rest of this stuff? No, when we don`t get stuff wrong I will not take it back just because you do not like the way it sounds, even though it is true. And, hey, why you don`t like the sound of something, sometimes ends up being newsworthy itself. [MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/4/13, via Nexis]
Because of limitations in FEC reporting and Morris' own lack of transparency, it's still not clear exactly how much money Morris received from the super PAC.
Morris is also distancing himself from Super PAC for America despite previously referring to the PAC as "my organization" and stating he "formed" it.
Maddow reported that Morris' legal team "now insists that this super PAC should not be described as Dick Morris' super PAC. The letter says he did not organize, control, or make any financial decisions for Super PAC for America. What's weird is that the letter says Mr. Morris was only involved with the Super PAC at all, to the extent the group asked him to help out with a specific fundraising drive to help elect Mitt Romney as president, which Mr. Morris agreed to do."
However, Morris sent three DickMorris.com emails "From the desk of Dick Morris" stating that "We formed Super PAC for America": 10/30/10; 10/31/10; 10/31/10. All three emails were "Paid for by Super PAC for America." From the October 30, 2010, email:
As Maddow also noted, Morris described Super PAC for America as "my organization" in an October 24, 2010, DickMorris.com fundraising solicitation, which promoted his efforts to elect Republicans during the midterm elections.
Morris stated in an November 3, 2010, posting that he was "able to raise funds for Super PAC for America (superpacusa.com) to make independent expenditures in" numerous congressional districts and he "also advised Super PAC (superpacusa.com) on its independent expenditures in 23 other districts. In these, I had no personal contact with the candidate or the campaigns, but through Super PAC and your generosity, we produced and ran television ads and/or made robo calls into these districts."
During the 2012 campaign, Morris held the title of chief strategist and said he was in "charge of the creative work -- the TV ads and media effort -- to defeat Obama." Conservative commentator Michael Reagan held the title of national chairman.
Retired donors to Morris' super PAC told Media Matters they are dissatisfied with how their money was spent in the recent election. With this recent confirmation that a portion of what he raised went back into his own pockets, it's not hard to see why.