Today we investigate influencers’ cautious approach to the election and take yet another look at Donald Trump’s self-dealing.
Creators Are Rallying For The Midterms — But Getting Political Isn’t On The Agenda
“Influencers have the power to move the needle in elections. While they’re keen to help get out the vote, many won’t wade any deeper into politics to protect their brands,” reports Alexandra S. Levine:
The age makeup of the electorate is changing: Gen Z and millennials will account for nearly half of the U.S. voting population by the next presidential cycle, according to Rock the Vote. (In 2020, they favored Biden over Trump by a margin of 20 percentage points, according to Pew.) Still, their turnout at the polls was lower than that of older Americans, an issue exacerbated by the pandemic, false claims of election fraud and other misinformation aimed at deterring voters. Get-out-the-vote groups are now trying hard to address that problem and de-politicize the process for this consequential bloc of voters, and many social media stars are happy to help.
But often, their foray into politics ends there.
“As you get an audience, you learn things not to do,” DeStorm Power, an online personality with 18 million followers across TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, told Forbes. “It’s very rare when creators are going to try to tell someone who to vote for because you’ll get dragged…you know not to say it.”
DeStorm, who is participating in Rock the Vote’s pro bono campaign, said he’s been asked “on many occasions” to endorse a specific candidate but that he turns down those requests to avoid alienating the audience he’s worked so hard to build. “You didn’t spend all these years building this trust in people to try to tell them to do what you want them to do,” he added. “You want them to do what they want to do, as long as they get out and do it.”
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Friday’s Checks & Imbalances included the wrong home state for Rep. Jody Hice. He represents Georgia.
In Case You Missed It
Trump Has Shifted More Than $1.4 Million Of Donor Money Into His Private Business This Election Cycle
“Donald Trump will not be on the ballot when Americans go to the polls a week from today, but his political machinery is still raising and shelling out more money than most midterm candidates,” reports Dan Alexander:
Some of the places Trump’s groups are spending: his own properties, according to a review of Federal Election Commission filings. Since losing the 2020 election, the former president has turned more than $1.4 million of donor money into business revenue by charging his political entities for lodging, food, rent and travel expenses.
One of the largest payments occurred about a month ago, when a group named Save America handed Trump’s hotel empire $82,000, according to FEC filings. Save America is classified as a leadership PAC, the type of entity that politicians often use to spread money around to their allies. Trump, who has collected $139 million via Save America, seems to be hoarding the bulk of the cash. Save America has spent $69 million, but records show only $25 million of that has gone to other committees, with the majority covering operating expenses, including payments to Trump’s properties.
This should not come as much of a surprise.
Updates on Checks & Imbalances’ previous reporting
Shortly after Checks & Imbalances was published on Friday, a spokesperson for Rep. Jody Hice’s (R-Ga.) campaign responded to an inquiry about the congressman’s use of campaign funds to pay his legal fees. Hice incurred the charges in his unsuccessful attempt to quash a subpoena from the Fulton County District Attorney in its investigation of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
“The FEC has said on multiple occasions that campaign funds may be used to pay for up to 100% of legal expenses related to campaign and officeholder activity, where such expenses would not have occurred had the individual not been a candidate or officeholder,” a Hice spokesperson said in a statement. “Congressman Hice was subpoenaed because of his efforts to prevent certification of the 2020 election, which was clearly within his duties as a member of Congress.”
On Friday, attorneys for former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) filed their initial brief in his appeal of his conviction in March for concealing information and making false statements to the FBI. The bureau was investigating Fortenberry for allegedly receiving illegal campaign contributions from a foreign national. In his appeal, the former lawmaker argues that the charges were filed in the wrong district and that instructions to the jury failed to define the relevancy of Fortenberry’s statements.
Fortenberry used campaign funds to pay the legal fees in his initial case. That option isn’t available for his appeal, as he terminated his campaign last month. Fortenberry currently works as director of employee programs for Practice Management of America, which offers business support to physicians, a position he started 11 days after his conviction.
Forbes continues to update “Tracking Trump: A Rundown Of All The Lawsuits And Investigations Involving The Former President.”
“The House Ways and Means Committee won’t get former President Donald Trump’s tax returns this week as scheduled, as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued an order Tuesday that blocks the tax information from being turned over until the court comes out with a more lasting decision—which won’t be for over a week at least,” reports Alison Durkee.
“The House January 6 Committee is ‘in discussions’ with former President Donald Trump’s legal team about him testifying in the lawmakers’ investigation, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday, raising the possibility that Trump could actually comply with the subpoena as he faces his first deadline Friday to turn over information to the committee,” reports Alison Durkee.
“The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an attempt by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to avoid testifying in a Georgia grand jury probe into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, after months of legal challenges from the senator,” reports Madeline Halpert.
- “Why Trump Is Ramming Piles of Cash Through a Campaign Loophole” (The Daily Beast)
- “Churches Are Breaking the Law by Endorsing in Elections, Experts Say. The IRS Looks the Other Way.” (ProPublica)
- “How to ‘Follow the Money’ in a Political Campaign” (ProPublica)
- “First Comments from NJ Sen. Bob Menendez on Federal Investigation” (4 NBC New York)
- “Laxalt campaign paid thousands to political operative linked to Twitter account that denigrated Jews, women” (Jewish Insider)
- “Democratic nominee for Oklahoma governor appears to have ‘violated’ state laws, experts say” (The Washington Examiner)
- “Democratic Senate candidate Thomas McDermott podcast raises pay-for-influence concerns” (The Indianapolis Star)
- “Caruso on track to exceed $100 million in campaign spending” (The Los Angeles Times)
- “The lower-profile races where K Street is writing checks” (Politico)
- “Last-minute millions arrive for Arizona’s Blake Masters” (Axios)
- “Leavitt campaign amends FEC report after ‘clerical error’” (WMUR 9)
“Did you hear my covert narcissism
I disguise as altruism
Like some kind of congressman”
— Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”