The devastation in the Florida panhandle left in Hurricane Michael's wake has been heartbreaking. Lives are in chaos, and any help that can be sent is needed and welcome. That's why questioning what's behind Sen. Bill Nelson’s motives to drive donations to the area has been difficult for me. Nobody, least of all myself, would want to curtail dollars sent in to help the storm victims of the panhandle.
But there is a curiosity when a running candidate, such as Democratic incumbent Sen. Nelson, is not merely petitioning for people to donate to causes, but to do so through the channel of the Democratic Party. There's a bit of cynical gameplay that seems obvious when Nelson and the Party can benefit from the good will and largesse of others.
Just after the landfall of Hurricane Michael, Nelson posted a tweet that, on the surface, you can't take issue with. He was compelling people to give to a number of suggested charities helping out in the afflicted areas. Certainly, that seems all well and good. But in clicking on the link he provides, you are taken to a page with a list of notable non-profits, none of which is a direct connection to said charities.
The page is for Act Blue, the fundraising website for the Democratic Party. What you are being redirected to is a page to decide which charities you would like to donate to, and then instructions to make your payment to Act Blue, which will send your donation in. The question here is, why should you have to go through the middle man -- in this case, the Party?
Why is there this proxy in order to give to those helping out in the storm zone? Why would Nelson feel the need to install an additional layer to the giving process unless there is a benefit for the Party? It seems apparent what they may be doing is compiling a donor list via those giving to the charities in the area, finding a way to compile data for their election needs in the process of charitable acts.
I am not implying there is some form of graft at play here. I do believe the money is being delivered to the intended organizations. But there is a bit of unsavory opportunistic benefit on behalf of the Dems to involve their fundraising division like this.
While it does deserve notice that he is highlighting worthy groups to receive any help, note that Nelson is not providing the direct links to the groups. It makes no sense to involve Act Blue in the act of donating to those intended -- why this need to give AB your money, so they can then give it to your intended target? This is adding another unneeded step in the process, another layer of bureaucracy, and it has to be done for a reason.
One of those charities on the Act Blue donation page is Team Rubicon. This is a group delivering boots-on-ground relief work of varying degrees directly in the impacted neighborhoods. They employ military veterans to work in an emergency capacity, with completely transparent financials. This was a group I personally donated to just after the storm. I went to their web site, and donating took no more than 90 seconds.
What I can't figure out is, why would I have gone through a third party such as Act Blue, giving them my funds and relying on a political-activist arm of the Democratic Party to then deliver my donation? In a crisis situation, what is needed is a streamlining of any process, and that certainly involves receiving goods and funding to aid in the recovery in the quickest method possible.
Adding red tape is the opposite of the intended goal, and seeing a group seeking any kind of benefit in the aid-delivery process is only going to raise questions.
Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.
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