Kevin Nicholson, a candidate for U.S. Senate, accepted an endorsement Tuesday from the Tea Party Patriots, a group with a reputation as an alleged “Scam PAC” and an endorser of racist congressional candidate Paul Nehlen in 2016.
In a post on Twitter, Nicholson thanked the Tea Party Patriots for their endorsement. “Thank you
@jennybethm and @TPPatriots for your support of our #wisen campaign to #SendInTheMarine. #wiright,” said Nicholson’s Tweet.
When asked for a statement about the Tea Party Patriots’ support of Nehlen and the group’s status as an alleged “scam PAC,” Nicholson campaign spokesman Brandon Moody replied in an email that he was unhappy with the question.
“We support Paul Ryan. And Paul Nehlen is a racist,” Moody replied. “Moreover you are an unbelievable hack completely in the bag for Leah. I’ve never seen anything like it. You are such a clown.”
RightWisconsin has not endorsed a candidate in the U.S. Senate GOP primary. “Leah” is state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), Nicholson’s opponent in the Republican Primary in August. The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in November.
In 2016, the Tea Party Patriots endorsed Nehlen despite the race-baiting campaign he was running, including a call by Nehlen to ban all Muslims from the United States. “…it is only after careful consideration, a thorough review of the incumbent’s record, much discussion with our grassroots activists, and a careful vetting of the challenger that we can announce our endorsement of Paul Nehlen for the GOP nomination for Congress in Wisconsin’s 1st district,” the organization wrote in its endorsement of Nehlen.
In 2018, Nehlen is again running in the Republican primary in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional district, this time as an openly racist and anti-Semitic candidate.
The Tea Party Patriots’ reputation as an alleged “scam PAC” began during the 2016 election cycle. As former RightWisconsin Web Editor Kevin Binversie reported in 2016 in a story about the group’s endorsement of Nehlen, the Tea Party Patriots raised $10.6 million in the 2014 election cycle but only spent 10 percent of that on candidates.
A scam PAC is usually described as a political action committee that raises money but ends up donating little to political campaigns. Instead, most of the donations are absorbed by administrative costs of the PAC, similar to Tea Party Patriots’ operational costs.
So far in the 2018 election cycle, the Tea Party Patriots have raised $2.3 million while spending $2.1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They made no donations to any federal candidates this cycle and made $90,344 in “independent expenditures” (4.3 percent) which may include direct mail fundraising efforts.
Interestingly, Richard Uihlein, the major financial supporter of Nicholson’s campaign, donated over $1.5 million to the Tea Party Patriots, or 67.5 percent of their fundraising total. This continues a pattern of large Uihlein donations to organizations that end up endorsing Nicholson.