How ‘Scam PACs’ Reap Millions in the Name of Heart-Tugging Causes
More post Citizens United fallout.
“The motto was, ‘Leave your morals at the door,’” said Alexander Lefler, 21, who worked for nearly a year at a call center southeast of Birmingham, Alabama, describing what he saw as high-pressure and deceptive tactics. “We kind of all understood what we were doing was wrong, but I needed a place to live.”
The call centers in Alabama, along with others in Nevada, New Jersey, and Florida, raise money on behalf of “scam PACs,” slang among critics for political action committees that purport to support worthy causes but in reality hand over little of the money for political – or charitable – purposes. Instead, the bulk of the money is kept by fundraising firms or the people running the PACs.
Through interviews with the former callers and donors, reviews of call scripts and visits to three call centers in Alabama, Reuters has obtained rare access into the world of these for-profit fundraisers, a tiny but lucrative niche of the multi-billion-dollar U.S. telemarketing industry.