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Duane Sand is a conservative retired Navy officer who raised over a million dollars to run for the North Dakota Republican Party's Senate nomination. He lost the primary to Rick Berg, who lost in the general election to the Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp.

Duane who? Never heard of him? It appears that he raised a million dollars but then he paid almost all of that (a million dollars) to the Washington, DC, company that did his fundraising. The funds raised went right back into the pockets of the fundraisers.

Duane Sand did have a website. And he appeared at a rally with Herman Cain. And he got Dick Morris to appear at a fundraising dinner. His campaign spent a little bit of money on an office and a few airplane tickets. But he had absolutely no TV ads. No radio ads. No mailers (except for fundraising). After he lost the primary, guess what? The fundraising continued.

More below the orange scarab…

I ran across this story on North Decoder, a Democratic blog in ND. It’s cross-posted from The Prairie Blog (here’s the whole story: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?). You should click on it and read the whole thing.

A million is a lot of money in North Dakota. Here’s the opening of the blog post:

Okay, here’s your North Dakota Political Trivia test for today:

Name the six candidates for public office in North Dakota in 2012 who raised at least a million dollars for their campaigns.

That should be easy, shouldn’t it? Let’s start at the top.

Rick Berg ($6,502,926) and Heidi Heitkamp ($5,642,938), who ran for the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Cramer ($1,321,178) and Pam Gulleson ($1,023,930), who ran for the U.S. House.

Jack Dalrymple ($2,769,668), who ran for Governor.

Okay, that’s five. But who’s the sixth?

Ryan Taylor? Nope—only $604,423.

Shane Goettle, who ran for Congress at the Republican convention? Nope—only  $158,384.

Brian Kalk, who ran against Kevin Cramer in the Republican primary? Nope—only  $319,768.

Hmm. Who’s left?

Ah! Duane Sand!


Yep, good old Duane, who ran against Rick Berg in the Republican primary election last June.

Duane raised . . . you ready for this? $1,085,246.

According to FEC reports, Sand’s campaign raised over a million dollars and almost all of that went to a political fundraising group in Washington, DC, called Base Connect. They mail letters all over the country, to really old, really conservative people with money, who donate money to help out a conservative candidate. You could say they have a “sucker list.”

Then these people from all around the country mail donations back to Base Connect, who deposits the money in an account for the candidate. Then the candidate pays the direct-marketing bills for fundraising and has, oh dear, almost nothing left over.

After Duane Sand lost the primary in June, 2012, Base Connect kept sending out letters to their suckers. The blogger, Jim Fuglie (could be a pseudonym), found one guy in Texas who sent in six checks after Sand lost the primary. Fuglie called and talked to several donors who liked Sand’s fundraising letters because he appeared to be a biblical conservative and a Navy vet who believes in tea party values. The kind of guy who should be in the Senate, in their opinion.

Here’s a little more:

Duane’s been doing this for a few years. He runs for office, and he signs on with this direct mail firm in Washington, D.C. called Base Connect, and then he turns them loose on conservative fundraising lists, and he raises lots of money, but only enough to cover the fees charged by Base Connect and its related little mini-companies, who do everything for Duane, from conceptualizing and printing a fundraising brochure, to writing the fundraising letter, to buying the mailing lists, to printing the letters, addressing and stuffing the envelopes, affixing postage and hauling them  to the post office. And picking up the mail with the responses in them, and depositing the money in Duane’s account. All Duane has to do is write a check on that account back to Base Connect and its related companies who do all that for Duane (they’re pretty much all in the same office in Washington, and for all I know, they are all owned by the same people).

They let Duane keep a little bit of the money for incidentals—maybe 5 per cent—and they get all the rest. It’s a great gig for these D.C. entrepreneurs who have cooked up this scheme. They have these suckers around the country like Duane who like to see their name in the paper and on the ballot, and it doesn’t cost Duane a thing except his time, which he seems to have plenty of, being a retired Navy officer. And he doesn’t spend much time at it either. He doesn’t campaign, doesn’t waste time shooting commercials, doesn’t meet with campaign managers and media consultants and advertising agencies, doesn’t have press conferences or rallies–in fact, about all he does is write checks to his direct mail firms. The only thing I’m wondering about is this: Is it just possible that they’re slipping Duane some of the money back under the rug for letting them use his name? Just askin’.

I’m wondering who is the bigger sucker in this scam? The candidate who hires the firm to raise funds and pays nearly all of it (a cool million) back to the fundraising company? Or the people on mailing lists who donate a few hundred or a few thousand to help out a candidate (even after he lost the primary)?

I consider this an excellent example of investigative reporting by a blogger. I recommend reading the whole article (here’s the link again: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?).

Any comments are welcome.

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