By Christopher R Rice
George Soros has directly funded Donald Trump’s rallies, by paying people to attend, a spokesman for the billionaire financier has acknowledged.
Michael Vachon, the Soros aide, said that Soros provided the money to attendees through a right-wing front group called the “Oath Keepers.”
The practice of hiring paid crowds — also known as “astroturfing” — is not new. The concept of there being popular support — or at least an illusion of it — at courts, theaters, games, funerals, and politics goes as far back as the Greeks and Romans. In fact, Nero paid a group to watch him sing — and applaud loudly, of course — in the theater.
Donald Trump was accused of breaking the law during his campaign by hiring paid actors to attend his rallies. Although the Federal Election Commission dismissed the charges, a lot of U.S. citizens haven’t.
Trump has been accused of using actors during his campaign since he announced he would run for president in June 2015. What’s worse is that he paid them a measly $50 apiece to come out and cheer, according to Business Insider. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, denied the charges and in an interview with Business Insider said, “… It’s just not true, unequivocally. The Donald Trump campaign and Donald Trump did not pay anybody to attend his announcement.”
The American Democracy Legal Fund filed a complaint in 2015 with the Federal Election Commission, saying that Trump should have disclosed the fact that he paid people. And because he didn’t, he was breaking the rules regarding reporting provisions.
The commission closed the case, saying that the Trump campaign admitted it paid $12,000 to Gotham Government Relations on October 8. Gotham hired Extra Mile — a full-service event and incentive marketing company — with that money so it could “provide administrative support at Trump’s announcement.”
According to The Washington Post, Trump’s campaign never paid Gotham the $12,000 it was owed until a month after the FEC received a complaint. What makes that even worse is that during the four months that Trump wasn’t paying his bill, Gotham was actually “loaning money” to the campaign — which could be construed as a contribution.
According to The Atlantic, politically paid support can actually turn into genuine support. As the candidate gets more media coverage for his campaign — because he seems popular — voters might change their minds as they become more aware of him and get to know his policies better.
Many political candidates have been accused of astroturfing. For example, The Tea Party movement’s left-leaning adversaries accused it of using the practice when it was in its formative years. And George W. Bush faced the same accusation when a newspaper editor received letters of support from Bush’s own website.
According to the New York Post, Crowds on Demand received in excess of $50,000 from Tim Draper’s “Six Californias” campaign. Venture capitalist Draper wanted to split California into six separate states, but his ballot initiative failed. In addition, Anthony Weiner (of sexting scandal fame) paid the company’s actors $15 per hour to show up at events during his 2013 bid for mayor of New York City.
And, according to The Wall Street Journal, a Ukrainian company called “Easy Work” has paid $4 per hour to student “protestors” to attend a wide range of political events.
According to Forbes, Hillary Clinton was also accused of astroturfing. Rumor has it Clinton paid for “protesters” to go to Trump rallies and shake things up. In addition, Clinton was accused of hiring people to troll Bernie Sanders supporters online, write pro-Hillary comments, and convince the public that Sanders is out of touch with the modern world.
President Donald Trump will fly into Nashville to rally thousands of paid supporters.
But unlike the events his predecessors held to build support for their agenda, Trump’s rally is being organized and funded by his presidential reelection campaign rather than the White House — a move that is raising eyebrows among campaign finance experts, veteran political operatives and officials from the last three administrations.
While the campaign will shell out tens of thousands of dollars for each rally it hosts, it is also gaining an edge on Trump’s likely 2020 reelection bid by amassing physical and email addresses voters submit to get their free tickets to attend the rally.
The campaign’s funding of the event also gives Trump more leeway in what he says on the stump, keeping him out of legal trouble if he delves into talk of his reelection bid or urges supporters to endorse or oppose any candidate for political office.
He’s already soliciting campaign contributions, which continue to role in via George Soros funded attendees, who are instructed to buy Trump merchandise, including his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats.
The only reason Trump draws such big crowds is because they are paid to be there.
This type of idea also runs under a different name altogether, a False Flag. A False Flag is a covert operation where there are actors or CIA operatives that conduct a mission under the guise of another group, often designed to make it seem as if a different group committed the acts, and not them. A popular example of this was during the Boston Tea Party, when the American Colonists dressed up as Native Americans and sieged an attack on a British boat, throwing tons of tea into the Boston harbor.
At President Trump’s rally in Tampa last week, a familiar face made it back in the national news. Maurice Symonette, also known as Michael the Black Man, was front and center in a crowd hurling invective at CNN reporter Jim Acosta, waving a “Blacks for Trump” sign. Symonette has been a regular at Trump rallies all over Florida and as far away as Arizona. Just last month, he popped up at the U.S. border to appear in a video with disgraced sheriff-turned-pardoned-Senate-candidate Joe Arpaio.
All that national exposure raises an obvious question: Who is paying the bills for Symonette, a former member of Miami’s murderous Yahweh ben Yahweh cult, to represent “Blacks for Trump” at Trump rallies? Since Blacks for Trump isn’t a registered political organization with the Florida Division of Elections or the Federal Election Commission, there are no public records of any donations funding the group’s operations.
It seems unlikely Symonette is fronting the cash for his travel himself because he filed for bankruptcy this past May. In federal court records, he reports that he’s unemployed, generates no income, and has $0 in the bank.
So how is he getting to Arizona and Tampa to stand behind Trump on national TV? Reached on his cell phone, Symonette declined to discuss his group’s financing. “You guys are horrible racists,” he said. “You are lawbreakers and you’re mean… God is going to punish you horribly.”
Throughout the ’80s, Symonette — then known as Maurice Woodside — was a devoted follower of Yahweh ben Yahweh, a charismatic preacher who wore white robes and called himself the Messiah. Federal prosecutors later accused Yahweh, whose real name was Hulon Mitchell Jr., of ordering his followers to murder at least 14 people, including random white vagrants who were massacred as an initiation rite.
Symonette was charged in federal court along with Mitchell and 15 other followers in 1990; while the cult’s leader was later convicted of 14 charges of murder conspiracy and served nearly two decades in prison, Symonette and six other cult members were acquitted.
In the decades since, Symonette has been charged with crimes including grand theft auto, carrying a weapon onto an airplane, and threatening a police officer, but has never been convicted. (He does have a pending case on a municipal ordinance charge in Hollywood after police showed up to a really loud party he threw.)
Since Trump’s election, Symonette has carved out an unlikely new niche as one of President Trump’s most visible African-American supporters. He has a knack for getting prime placement directly behind Trump and has handed out hundreds of his “Blacks for Trump” signs. They advertise his website, which is full of conspiracy theories about Cherokees running the U.S. banking system. (Really.)
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