The Right Wing’s Welfare Program

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We learned yesterday that right-wing celebrity Linda Chavez and her husband failed at running a restaurant in Maryland but have been wildly successful at raising millions for political groups that employ her and her family but do little else. But Chavez’s group isn’t the only one facing scrutiny lately for how it spends the money it solicits from across the nation.

For instance, the anti-immigration Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is being sued by an Arizona man who contributed $100,000 in 2006 for the construction of a multi-layered, high-tech steel fence on a private ranch along the US-Mexico border. The group put up a five-strand barbwire fence and diverted the remaining money to the general budget. In 2005, most of the general budget was spent on “professional services.”

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The border vigilante group, which is aligned with right-wing pundit and politician Alan Keyes, formed a political action committee to influence the 2006 mid-term elections. The PAC — following in the footsteps of Chavez — spent more than $500,000 in the first half of the year, but only $10,000 went to candidates running for office. The rest was spent on “operating expenses,” mainly paid out to a group of fundraising and direct mail firms connected to Keyes and his political groups. Nice work if you can get it!

If we’ve learned anything from the way these groups operate, it’s that the contributors can rest assured that their hard-earned dollars are going far in keeping right-wing pundits, consultants, and fundraisers off the unemployment line.

One final thought, as long as we’re talking about welfare. What exactly did Giuliani hope to accomplish with this video?

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