Well, as if we didn’t know it, Republicans are now scamming money using fake outrage over balloons to raise money for their 2024 election runs.
Republican politicians are stoking outrage and raising cash over the alleged Chinese spy balloon that crossed the US before it was shot down.
In at least 11 emails, congressional campaigns cite the incident as they ask recipients for money, to sign petitions or to take surveys. Some strike Cold War themes as they raise the dangers of Chinese espionage, but most take jabs at President Joe Biden, who on the advice of the military opted to destroy the craft over the ocean three days after a civilian spotted it in the Montana sky.
The US claims the balloon was part of a global surveillance program. China has insisted that it was a weather-monitoring device that blew off course.
The first emails hit inboxes on Feb. 3 when the balloon was still airborne, according to Pundit Analytics, which tracks emails, Facebook ads and social-media postings of elected officials and candidates.
Senator Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota, sent out an alert to supporters that began by citing China’s claim that one of its weather balloons had gone astray. While the email surveyed supporters on whether they trusted China, Cramer made clear where he stood on the issue.
“This is an invasion,” the email said. Cramer referenced his recent efforts to thwart a Chinese company’s plans to build a corn mill near the Grand Forks Air Force Base on national security grounds. “China cannot be trusted. Period.”
The emails demonstrate how quickly candidates can issue rapid-response fundraising appeals to potential donors on the most controversial topics of the day. Sometimes, that can be tricky with evolving news stories. None of the emails mention three subsequent incidents in which US military jets shot down as yet unidentified craft over the US and Canada, with the most recent occurring Sunday over Lake Huron.
Some emails have been particularly harsh. Senator Ron Johnson sent three of the emails, with the first telling prospective donors that China sent Americans the Covid-19 virus and “a mysterious spy balloon that’s still sailing across America.” The Wisconsin Republican called for payback before asking recipients to take a poll on the issue. Johnson, whose campaign owes $2.3 million to vendors, according to its latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, also asks donors to help pay down the debt.
In his most recent email on Sunday, Johnson turned the focus to the Biden administration, asking if it “failed America by mishandling the Chinese Spy Balloon disaster?”
Representative Bryon Donalds of Florida wasted no time calling into question Biden’s response. A missive sent to donors two days after the balloon was shot down began by calling Biden the “SINGLE MOST INCOMPETENT Commander-in-Chief we’ve ever had.” The email asked donors to give between $25 and $250. He also mentioned the balloon two days later when slamming Biden’s State of the Union address, as did his fellow Floridian, Representative Matt Gaetz.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott sent two emails, the most recent on Friday, asking supporters if Biden’s delay in shooting down the balloon put Americans in danger.
Senator Katie Britt of Alabama sent donors a lengthy list of her recent activities, including her asking how the Chinese could believe the US will defend Taiwan if the Biden administration“doesn’t even have the stomach to deal with a balloon.”
–With assistance from Laura Davison.