Alleged scam PAC operator indicted by the Justice Department still ran robocalls after his arrest
The Justice Department says the men collected approximately $3.5 million from unwitting contributors, using it to enrich themselves instead of supporting the political candidate.
Fintech Zoom’s KFile found Tunstall used another PAC he created in 2019 — called Campaign to Support the President — to send more than 166,000 robocalls, according to data from an anti-robocall app, to solicit donations just last month.
Though Campaign to Support the President was not part of the November indictment, it bears all the hallmarks of a scam PAC, according to experts Fintech Zoom spoke with.
“The purpose of a PAC, or a political action committee, is essentially they get donations and then they spend those donations to help elect people to office. What we call a scam PAC is one that raises the money under those guises and then basically pays themselves and their friends,” said Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
“[Scam PAC operators] basically redirect the money to themselves rather than trying to actually elect candidates. So, they’re scamming their donors essentially into giving them money that would otherwise go towards an election,” said Libowitz, speaking broadly about scam PACs. He added that scam PACs often have names that sound either plain or legitimate to trick donors into giving money.
The Justice Department declined to comment to Fintech Zoom. Tunstall and his lawyer did not return Fintech Zoom’s multiple requests for comment.
“There are few things that infuriate prosecutors and judges like a defendant who continues to commit crime while out on bail — particularly the same crime for which he is already indicted,” said Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor and a Fintech Zoom senior legal analyst. “If proven, the consequences here for Tunstall could be serious: revocation of bail, additional criminal charges, and enhanced sentencing after any conviction.”
Tunstall’s Campaign to Support the President PAC was one of the largest robocall operations in the country in 2020 and 2021, according to NoMoRobo, but the PAC stopped sending robocalls in mid-June 2021, shortly after Fintech Zoom’s KFile first contacted one of the PAC’s former treasurers. The group didn’t restart calls until November 4, according to the data from NoMoRobo.
“It’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse,” Foss, the founder of NoMoRobo, told Fintech Zoom’s KFile. “We’re already seeing copycat groups pushing out similar messages. As long as people are falling for these scams, they’re going to continue.”
The November calls for the Campaign to Support the President PAC asked for donations of $35 to receive a Trump Christmas card.
“On behalf of the entire Trump family, we wish everyone a merry Christmas and a very, very happy New Year,” Trump says in the call.
“President Trump wants everyone to celebrate Christmas and holidays, including you, while Democrats want to cancel Christmas gatherings. Get your Trump family Christmas card for every contribution of at least $35,” a narrator added.
When Fintech Zoom’s KFile attempted to call the number mentioned in the robocall in December, an automated voice said that “the number you dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service.” The phone numbers used to send robocalls were also not working numbers.