MINNEAPOLIS - Eighty-eight-year-old Carmen Bakken responded to a stream of fund-raising letters from the National College Republicans by sending them 91 checks totaling $42,985.
When told of the extent of her donations, the Cambridge woman said, "Oh, my goodness! I don't think I gave so much. I don't remember the name College Republicans. I thought what I gave to was a national Republican company."
Similar accounts from other senior citizens in Minnesota and nationwide have put Eric Hoplin, the St. Olaf College graduate who chairs the College Republican National Committee, on the defensive about the group's record $8 million in fund-raising this year...
Monda Jo Millsap, 68, of Van Buren, Ark., said that when she was solicited by phone and mail, she agreed to "lend" nearly $60,000 to the group.
"They were supposed to give it back, and I haven't heard nothing," she said...
Elliot Baines, an 84-year-old retired metallurgical engineer from Vero Beach, Fla., said he received "as much as 20 pounds" of mail in a day, much of it from Republicans.
Baines gave the College Republicans $63,435 in 59 donations, some as high as $4,000. But since President Bush won re-election, he said, he's not bothered.
Frances Offerman, 86, of Eden Prairie, sent in 36 checks totaling $1,814.
"I don't remember giving that much," she said. "No, I don't remember addressing it to the college."
Perhaps the most damning bit, beyond swindling old ladies, is this:
Alison Eikele, a spokeswoman for the College Republicans, said 79 percent of the group's revenue went toward fund-raising consultants. The rest went to a campus recruiting drive that more than tripled membership to 150,000, and to dispatching 75 paid staff members to battleground states this fall, Hoplin said.
Yup, the money these little old ladies gave was spent, mostly, on fundraising.
So, a little contest. The War in Iraq is called "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and the Bush Administration as a whole has been calle "Operation Perpetual Excuse" on ASZ. What would you call this little fiasco by the College Republicans?