By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 28, 2023 ~
At the Republican Primary Debate for President last Wednesday evening, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie referred to presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy as “ChatGPT,” the artificial intelligence chatbot. The moniker struck a bell when the bellicose Ramaswamy with a too-perfect broadcaster voice and a too-perfect permanent smile showing off perfect sparkling teeth, bellowed out on the stage that climate change is “a hoax.”
We immediately headed to the Federal Election Commission (FEC.gov) website to see if Big Oil or its attached-at-the-hip Charles Koch network was behind this candidate. Ramaswamy wants to stroll into the highest office in the United States despite no prior public office experience. (Because that worked out so well for all of us the last time.)
Thus far, the big money trail has not led directly to Big Oil or the Koch network, but just give it time. Ramaswamy is espousing the key hot button issues that the big money Koch crowd demand in their candidates. Ramaswamy’s official website lists these goals for his administration: “Drill, frack & burn coal: abandon the climate cult & unshackle nuclear energy;” cut the headcount among U.S. regulators by 75 percent; relaunch the Reagan deregulatory revolution.
According to the Federal Election Commission, through June 30, Ramaswamy’s campaign coffers have taken in $19.16 million, of which $15.25 million came from Ramaswamy’s loans to the campaign and another $750,462 in his own contributions to his campaign. To put it another way, 84 percent of Ramaswamy’s campaign support has come out of his own pocket – despite his efforts to make it appear that he has broad support for his platform. In fact, when he stated on stage that climate change was a hoax, he was loudly booed by the Republican audience in attendance.
So how did Ramaswamy get those tens of thousands of individual donations to qualify him to appear on the debate stage? He spent $10.13 million of his own money to raise $3.16 million from other people in the first six months of this year.
According to FEC data, Ramaswamy’s biggest outlay went to a company called Push Digital, which has received $1.9 million in disbursements from the Ramaswamy campaign through June 30. Push Digital calls itself “an award-winning campaign agency active in America’s highest stakes races and debates.” One thing the agency clearly does not do is to vet the integrity or competence of the candidate. Push Digital promoted the candidacy of Herschel Walker for Republican Senator from Georgia in 2022. (He lost.) Walker had serious issues with telling the truth. CNN quoted Walker as follows on climate change:
“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then – now we got we to clean that back up.”
FEC records show that one of the things that Push Digital did for Ramaswamy was “P2P Texting.” According to Peerly, that stands for “Peer-to-Peer Texting,” which works this way:
“Peer to peer texting, also known as P2P text is a form of SMS that allows a person to quickly and efficiently send out texts to large groups of people while having the opportunity to have a two way conversation between the sender and recipient. These are commonly used in politics and nonprofit organizations as it gives the ability to reach large amounts of people in a conversational manner and also allows these organizations to collect real-time data from voters or even collect potential donors…Peer2Peer has become increasingly popular starting in the last presidential election….”
The second largest recipient of disbursements from Ramaswamy was a company called Cygnal. Through June 30, it received $1,090,700. The company’s website explains one of its services as follows:
“With a customized plan you have control of exactly where and how your ad dollars are spent, and the increased capacity allows you to boost your campaign’s reach for cross-channel digital campaigns without any additional contractual risk. More important, measuring the effectiveness of your plan allows you to understand if you’re having the desired impact on your key audiences while maximizing your budget. With this intelligence, you can quickly pivot, make adjustments, and get your campaigns back on track.”
Ramaswamy’s longer-term plan for funding his campaign (aside from potentially wooing Big Oil and the Koch network) is to offer 10 percent kickbacks to folks who might want to fundraise for him – while personally assuming legal liability if this plan blows up. (You can’t make this stuff up.) See his Tweet about this scheme and more details here.
For more on the dangerous and insidious growth of technological voter targeting, brainwashing and cult creations, see our earlier report: The Dangerous and Invisible Hand in the 2020 Election: Charles Koch’s i360.