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Austin Cline

College Republicans Scammed Senior Citizens?

By October 30, 2004

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Usually when we hear about senior citizens being tricked out of their money, it involves insurance scams or fake charities. Now, however, it sounds as if the College Republicans may have gotten in on the act. There are reports that they got seniors to donate to them under the guise of donations to the election efforts of Bush and other politicians.

David Postman and Jim Brunner write:

The donors wrote checks sometimes hundreds and, in at least one case, totaling more than $100,000 to groups with official sounding-names such as "Republican Headquarters 2004," "Republican Elections Committee" and the "National Republican Campaign Fund." But all of those groups, according to the small print on the letters, were simply projects of the College Republicans, who collected all of the checks. ... Of the money spent by the group this year, nearly 90 percent went to direct-mail vendors and postage expenses, according to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Some of the elderly donors, meanwhile, wound up bouncing checks and emptying their bank accounts.
Officers of the College Republican National Committee did not respond to questions about their fund raising.
The board debated the fund-raising practices after the family of an elderly Indiana woman with Alzheimer's disease demanded that her donations be returned. The woman's family said it had sent a registered letter asking that she be taken off the mailing list, but the solicitations continued. Only after a newspaper reported on the story did the College Republicans refund $40,000 to the family, according to Jackie Boyle, one of the woman's nieces.
There are far more retired people giving to College Republicans than to any other IRS-regulated independent political committee, IRS records indicate. The Times was able to determine the ages of 49 of the top 50 individual donors to the College Republicans. The median age of the donors is 85, and 14 of them are 90 or older.
Donors interviewed this week frequently expressed disbelief when they were told how much they gave to the College Republicans. "That can't be true," said Francis Lehar, a 91-year-old retired music publisher, when he was told records showed he gave the College Republicans nearly $23,000. "I have donated to dozens of Republican causes. Some of them might be the Republican Party organizations."

Are College Republicans scamming the elderly? You'll have to decide that for yourself, but I'd like to hear some comments from conservatives themselves. Does the above story describe a prominent Republican organization that adequately reflects and expresses "conservative values'? Is this how Republicans believe the "family" should be "protected"?

Quite frankly, it sounds much more like families need to be protected from Republicans, not protected by Republicans.

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