Welcome to Pay Dirt—exclusive reporting and research from The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay on corruption, campaign finance, and influence-peddling in the nation’s capital. For Beast Inside members only.
Despite some murmurs from the remnants of the GOP’s Trump critics, Republicans are more or less united behind the president headed into his re-election contest. But a lack of conflict is lousy for fundraising, so some conservative moneymen are scrounging for dollars by hyping nonexistent Republican challengers—and their equally nonexistent efforts to fight them.
“Establishment lackeys plotting to PRIMARY Trump,” blared the subject line of a fundraising email sent this month by a group called Defeat the Establishment PAC. The group needs money, it begged recipients, to support its pro-Trump advocacy, which has included “phone calls, fax petitions, targeted mail and email blasts, [and] Facebook and Google Internet banner ads.”