Republican Duane Sand has been a regular candidate on North Dakota ballots for more than a decade. He was the NDGOP’s Senate candidate in 2000. He was their House candidate in 2004 and 2008. And, in 2012, he ran an unsuccessful campaign to secure the NDGOP’s nomination for the Senate but lost to Rick Berg on the primary ballot.
And throughout all of these campaigns, Sand’s fundraising has never really stopped. A year ago I wrote that he was still fundraising in 2013 for his 2012 campaign. According to the FEC, as of the latest reporting period (through June 30th) Sand was still packing away tens of thousands of dollars. He’s raised $27,835 dollars in the 2014 election cycle, despite not having run a campaign or even attempted to get on a ballot.
According to the FEC, nearly all of his contributions have come from people who are out of state (those not likely to know Sand isn’t actually running for anything) with their occupation listed as “retired.”
In the 2010 election cycle Sand raised more than $116,000 but his name didn’t appear on the June ballot or the November ballot that year. More than 65 percent of the itemized contributions reported by Sand’s campaign that cycle listed their occupation as “retired.”
Per Sand’s July 2014 quarterly report, he still owes direct mail fundraising firm BaseConnect over $53,000, which probably explains the on-going fundraising, though Sand didn’t raise any money in that last reporting period.
There may be a good reason why. An investigative reporter was snooping around.
About a month ago Michael Elrick from Fox TV in Detroit contacted me regarding my posts about Sand and his fundraising. I helped fill Elrick in on some of the facts, and his story aired last night.
As you can see in the video above, a man named Scott MacKenzie (listed on FEC forms as Sand’s campaign treasurer) and a company called BaseConnect are targeting elderly people (the sort who still open junk mail) for contributions that a) often go to candidates like Sand who aren’t really running for anything and b) most of which are gobbled up by BaseConnect anyway. According Elrick’s report, BaseConnect often gobbles up as much as 90 percent or more of funds they raise for a candidate.
Which is in line with Sand’s historical campaign “burn rates” which often had him spending more to fundraise than he was collecting.
That almost makes it seem like the candidates are running not so much for elected office, but as an excuse for BaseConnect’s direct mail efforts.
That’s pretty sleazy, but apparently not illegal. Everything BaseConnect and Sand have done is apparently on the up-and-up with the FEC.
I contacted Sand for comment about this story, and he refused. “It doesn’t matter what I tell you because you’re going to write shit that’s half true and out of context, so I’m just going to go ahead and let you do that,” he told me.
Caveat emptor and all that, but this is a warning for you people not to give money to candidates or organizations you’re not familiar with. And consider finding a way to contribute directly as opposed to direct mail schemes, where much of your money may not be reaching your desired candidate or cause.