When Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for president, he was a bit coy with his fundraising figures, initially “choosing” not to release the 24-hour number. This raised red flags because sharing (good) fundraising figures is an excellent way to raise more funds. People like a winner. Most assumed that this meant that Beto’s first 24 hours of fundraising were disastrous, and a narrative began to emerge.
That is, until Beto reversed course on his one quote and chose to release his staggering fundraising figure: $6.1 million raised in 24 hours—more than Bernie Sanders’ whopping $5.9 million total.
First off: Beto’s almost certainly not lying. Reports like these are required by law. Secondly, if he were lying, he would have to change his figure when he publicly files with the FEC so as to avoid breaking the law. There is no way that Beto is dumb enough to lie about how much money he raised only to backtrack on it later. That would be an unmitigated disaster.
Which brings me to the conspiracy theory about Beto’s fundraising numbers that is starting to make inroads on the left. This would be comically illegal if it were true.
Credit to self-described “Beto-hater” and writer for Splinter, Libby Watson, for pushing back on this misinformation with facts from the Federal Election Commission.
It says so—clear as day—on the FEC’s website: state/district/local parties can only give $5,000 to individual candidates. This is not up for debate. This conspiracy theory about Beto’s fundraising is a cartoonish, Donald Trump-esque violation of FEC law. It’s not happening. Period.
The accusation alone makes gullible leftists look foolish. Instead of accepting reality and working even harder to fight for our preferred candidate(s?), we’ve tried to deny the fact that Beto is swimming in cash. This looks even more stupid on our part when you look at Beto’s fundraising haul from his Senate bid to unseat Ted Cruz in Texas. Per The Washington Post on October 12, 2018:
The campaign of Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke on Friday said it had raised $38.1 million in the past three months, bringing his total to nearly $62 million — an enormous haul that makes him one of the most successful fundraisers in American politics.
Beto hit presidential-level fundraising figures in a Senate race. He has proven to be a fundraising machine. The most likely explanation for how he outraised Bernie Sanders is that the people who donated to Beto’s Senate bid donated again for his presidential bid. At $38.1 million in three months, that works out to raising an average of about $423,000 per day. Is $6.1 million in a day for his presidential bid really that unrealistic in that context? (Note: We’ll know more about the average donation, and total donors, when O’Rourke’s FEC filing becomes public on April 15.)
To the leftists pushing this wrongheaded notion, I beg of you: please abandon this conspiracy theory. You’re screaming “fake news” at reports that, if they were wrong, literally mean that Beto O’Rourke and the Democratic Party committed a more obvious FEC violation than Donald Trump did with the Stormy Daniels payout. The best explanation for how Beto beat Bernie’s fundraising records is that Beto has proven to be an amazing fundraiser. Question the average donation size and number of donors all you want, but calling into question whether Beto really received $6.1 million in donations is straight reality-denying Trumpism. We’re better than that.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.