Last week, a spokesperson for Barack Obama’s campaign said that a group called "Californians for Obama" had been asked to close up shop despite its success to date in raising over $10,000 in campaign contributions. Among their concerns: the group is not contributing any of that money to the campaign. Also, there’s only one "Californian" in it.
The Californian for Obama turns out to be Emmett Cash III (yes, his last name is "Cash"), who runs an official-looking website that offers various Obama-related activities in exchange for contributions. For example, the current offering is a "Women of Power" cruise to Mexico on September 21, on which you would be able to meet powerful women such as Maya Angelou and Eartha Kitt, or at least you would be able to meet them if either of them were actually going. Neither one had ever heard of the trip, and Angelou has already endorsed Hillary Clinton anyway. That did not please people like Ercell Hoffman, a 65-year-old woman who paid over $2,000 to sign up for the cruise, thinking it would help Obama.
In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle found that the group has not given a dollar to any campaign, let alone Obama’s, and that most of the money has already been paid out to one Emmett Cash III. (Based on the Chronicle’s graphic, it has mostly been used for gas, which is awfully expensive these days, and some snacks.)
Cash, who the Chronicle found had been a registered Republican until last month, previously ran "Citizens for [Colin] Powell," which also did not give anybody any money. Cash denied doing anything illegal and pointed out (accurately) that the "group" is registered with the Federal Election Commission. Unauthorized fund-raising groups are legal so long as they do not fraudulently suggest a connection to the campaign in order to gather donations, for example by using the candidate’s name — which could be a little bit of a sticking point for "Californians for Obama."
Reportedly, Cash had agreed to shut his operation down after being pressured by People Actually For Obama, but as of today (Wednesday), the website was still up.