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A March 2023 report by non-profit organizations, the Gibson Group of Maryland and Election Watch, has exposed a large-scale money laundering scheme in US political campaigns.
This involves the use thousands of individuals known as “smurfs” who make numerous small donations to mostly liberal PACs, committees or directly to candidates’ campaigns, in order to launder large sums of money.
The report claims that more than $200M has been laundered so far, and many of these smurfs are entirely unaware their names and addresses are being used to make political donations. The report found that smurfs tend to be primarily white, retired, liberal, and middle to lower economic class. Multiple spellings of names and addresses were used to make the donations, too.
Election Watch has assembled smurf data by state on its website.
The file for Connecticut features the Top 20 “smurfs” in the state based on total number of political donations made from 2021 - 2022.
The number one “donor” from Stamford, Connecticut, allegedly made 13,811 donations, just from 2021 to 2022!
But if you go to the Federal Election Commission website, and look at that donor's entire history, it’s even more surprising. He allegedly made 22,131 political donations, averaging 59 donations a day for 144 months, for a total of $257k in donations. Is that really normal donation behavior for an 81-year-old man?
CT Secretary of State Candidate Dominic Rapini and Greenwich Patriots founder Jackie Homan visited one of the Top 20 CT donors on March 30, 2023, to investigate this issue in person.
This donor expressed shock upon learning that her name had been used to make over $41k in donations when, according to her recollection, her political donations were more on the order of $1,500. Many of the donations attributed to this donor totaled less than $1. It’s unclear whether these donations ever hit her credit card statements, but the donor did acknowledge that her identity had been stolen and “used on the dark web”.
The President of Election Watch, Peter Bernegger, explained,”it is a common tactic to use a real person’s name and address to open a credit card or other type of financial account, all without that person being aware of it. Then money is deposited into a different account whichpays the credit card account or ACH charge. If the organization charging the credit card or accepting the ACH transfer doesn’t verify thetransaction, as the majority of retailers do, then illicit transactions can occur with impunity.”
Benegger went on to say that, “smurfs are money mules, some of the individuals know they are participating, but many times they are not aware of the shenanigans” as was the case with the donor visited by Rapini and Homan.
A recent video released by James O’Keefe shows a private investigator hired by Election Watch who also confirmed that donors were unaware of how many donations were attributed to them.
More than 10,000 smurfs have been identified in this alleged money laundering scheme.
Stay tuned as this story continues to unfold.
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