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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  September 19, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT

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entire family will be deported back to k uraba on the next available. call rae flynn, you ask keep up on >> i'm ali velshi. "on target" tonight. your donations don't always go where you think they do. we're on the money, to expose a system where almost anything goes and even the candidates themselves can't control it. there are still 14 months to go before americans vote for their next president in november of 2016. but the television air waves in some key states are already so inundated with campaign commercials you would think the
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election is happening tomorrow. all through the 2016 election season al jazeera america is teaming up with the center for public integrity. a nonpartisan nonprofit investigative organization in washington. together we're going to follow the obscene amounts of money being raised and spent on the campaign trail. republican candidates running in their party's presidential primaries have put out an estimated 11,000 tv ads in recent months. at the same time, democrat candidates in their presidential primaries produced an estimated 4,000 ads. again we're still months away, more than a year away from the election and months away from the 2016 primaries. these figures are the total number of tv ads paid for by candidates, special interest groups, and so-called super-paks super-pacs, short for
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superpolitical action committees. unlimited sums of money to promote a candidate for a political party. that explains why 90% of the gop ads we're talking about were paid for by superpacs unlike the officially campaign, superpacs are not committed to contribute to or coordinate directly with either political parties or candidates. but critics charge there's a lot of indirect coordination between the superpacs and the campaigns. it is a phenomenon that has supercharged campaign finance forecasts for this upcoming election cycle. donors and others now expect an astonishing $5 billion will be spent on the 2016 presidential race that is double the amount spent in 2012. and when you follow the money, you see that superpacs have made this election the wild west and the candidate with the biggest weapon by his side is jeb bush.
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david schuster explains. >> as jurv jeb bush introduces himself to the residents of iowa and new hampshire. >> over 200 new charter schools, the state was florida, the governor was jeb bush. proven conservative. real results. jeb. right to rise u.s.a. is responsible for the content of this message. >> reporter: but these ads are not from mr. bush's campaign. they are from right to rise u.s.a. a superpac that is supposed to operate separately and unde independently from the candidate. less than a quarter of the total the superpac has so far reported bringing in, $103 million. in the same time period the bush campaign itself reported only bringing in
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$11.4 million. why the difference? unlike a candidate's campaign superpacs can raise and spend unlimited's of money. most of the presidential campaigns in both parties are also getting a boost from superpacs and so far the center for public integrity have said those pacs have bankrolled 90% of all political ads. the ruling called citizens united the justices ss s affirmed, independent political action committees these are the groups known as superpacs. relying on a superpac though does carry risk. donald trump was paying for all
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of his campaign efforts has repeatedly criticized mr. bush saying the former florida governor is already beholden. >> when they give 5 million or 2 million to jeb they have him just like a puppet. >> never mind the political optics, there is if the superpac goes rogue, superpac and candidates are not supposed to coordinate with each other. in other words if jeb bush does not like what right to rise is doing or how they are spending money there is nothing he can do to stop it. >> the power of these superpacs spreads well beyond washington. daniel craig's strange connection to the word of >> business man bill browder. >> if my grandfather was the biggest communist in america, i'm gonna go become the biggest capitalist in eastern europe. >> from communist origins to capitalist tycoon. see why he's now set on taking down vladimir putin.
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>> the russian government remains determined to ruin me in any way they can, including killing me if they can get away with it.
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>> we're talking about superpacs, they're almost entirely unregulated. almost anyone can start one and almost anyone to donate to one. a superpac can do almost anything it want with the money it raises. i sat down with robert beckel , a nonprofit organization teaming up with al jazeera america to follow the money that's being raised and spent during this election cycle. he's been following a strange tale involving james bond and a cease and desist order from bernie sanders. >> so you're digging around and you find this superpac associated with bernie sanders. how did you find it? why were you even looking for it? >> american socially united
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filed paperwork with the federal election commission saying that it was forming and there was a contact address and name on that form. and when we went to the website we also found another address and another form. but one of these addresses is a mailbox in las vegas, and the other address is simply an office in a virtual office suite in washington, d.c. there's not employees there, not staff there, not executive director maintaining an office on pennsylvania office or anything like that. >> it had an office called ready for bernie sanders 2016. >> sanders is a candidate who says he doesn't want superpac support. >> there's nothing illegal about setting up a superpac wanting to support a presidential candidate even if that presidential candidate doesn't want anything to do with this, they don't want you to set up that superpac?
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>> that's right. superpacs is part of the wild wild west of campaign finance. pretty much anyone can start them and you can spend that money on just about anything. forming a superpac is a very easy process, you can file paperwork form a website start raising money and you're off to the races. >> the issue is a superpac isn't actually supposed to be part of a campaign but something here if it's ready for bernie 2016 or bet on bernie, the bet is there's one guy named bernie running for president. >> if you goomg bernie sanders you may stumble upon this website. >> it would make sense, i'm donating to something to do with bernie sanders. >> exactly. there's been a pr firm involved that's run a couple of press releases, that included bernie sanders, that ran in times square in new york city.
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you learned that you or i or anyone could do something similar for as little as $399. the sanders campaign said it thought some of these action he and activities were illegal and that it should essentially cease and desist. there's a man named mr. carrie lee peterson who was the found founder of this organization. when we started to look deeper into mr. peterson's background we found many legal and financial troubles. multiple eviction cases, multiple arrest warrants that are active in arizona. and two breaches of contract where his company has been ordered to pay creditors nearly $200,000. >> so as you're researching this and as stranger and stranger things are happening, you all of a sudden discover that daniel craig whom i think of most commonly as james bond has
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donated money to carrie peterson's superpac. >> 007 reporting for duty. >> mr. craig did in fact donate nearly $50,000 to american socially united. what did mr. craig know about mr. carrie lee peterson's background was he aware of some of these financial and legal problems in his past? >> did you give his people any sense that maybe the superpacs were not working in tandem with bernie sanders? >> they would only say so much to us on the record and they wanted to leave themselves open to reconsidering, if this was a good investment, or if they might take some other actions if they find out the money is not being spent as they intended it to be spent. >> you've spoken with carrie lee peterson. >> i have. >> are you still speaking to him? >> to some extent he last told me that what has happened in his past isn't relevant to the
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current work that he's doing. >> to be clear, there's this money that carrie lee peterson says he's raised and told you it's around $1 million perhaps. >> uh-huh. >> there's no rule how he has to spend this. it doesn't even have to be spent in a direction of the candidate he had on his website for a while. >> co-spend it any way he wanted to. >> including a salary? >> on a salary he could spend it on buying a new lam bor gen lam bor gene lam borghini . >> a superpac isn't supposed to coordinate with a campaign. bernie sanders doesn't want any superpac but under the law, bernie sanders doesn't have any
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rights to prevent a superpac to act on hi behalf. >> he could get up on a soapbox. >> i don't have a superpac i don't want the money from the billionaires and that's the way we're going to run our campaign. >> senator sanders is hamstrung, he can't stop anybody from developing these groups. >> whether there are flaws or connections to the citizens united ruling? >> i think this is a cautionary tale in the superpac world. donors need to do their research and be aware that when they visit a website or hear about a group that that group might have more going on than meets the eye. being able to pull back the veil and say what's really going on here. >> this week, carrie lee peterson's superpac filed the required reports, seven weeks after the filing deadline.
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carrie lee peterson joins me on the phone. mr. peterson thank you for joining me. you heard the story we just ran. senator bernie sanders campaign says some of the actions of your superpac are illegal. they sent you a cease and desist order, have you complied? >> me and bernie sanders's lawyer brad deutsche have been in contact. compliance has been met due to the fact that we're not in the business to break any rules, that's definitely not what i'm here to do. we're here obviously as new fish to political action committees and supporting calls to the movement of senator sanders getting closer to the white house. and whether we got the letters it was obviously pertinent, it was an important situation that
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we had to bid close attention to. >> beckel the reporter we just talked to said he discovered you had legal and financial troubles troubles, judgments and eviction notices, that's not relevant. >> we're not going to talk about when i got a traffic ticket ten years ago, we're not going to talk about a business deal that i did with a buddy that didn't go as planned. we're not going to talk about, you know, business contract that didn't go as planned. we're here to talk about the political action committee. a lot of those references that beckel had mentioned, they were inconsistent and as i mentioned in an interview with an independent journalist last week, i told them that you know, this endeavor was brilliant, but obviously, the antics of
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journalism they are -- >> mr. peterson this is your chance to say whatever beckel said that you think was inaccurate. tell me now. do you not have arrest warrants do you not have other businesses -- >> i'll give you the quote that i told the journalist. it was half brilliance and half bull (bleep) all right? arrest warrants and things like that, listen, listen, i work as a registered lobbyist on the hill. i do diplomatic affairs obviously that i was involved with prior to even getting involved with political action committees. a lot of stuff i do for humanity is something i think this is very important for america. so to talk about a traffic ticket that i had ten years ago or a mistaken identity on a person that pretend that i don't have a common last name, i think this is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. so carry on.
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>> should donors including daniel craig and others be aware that they are donating money to somebody who has legitimate reasons for it but has legal and financial allegations against them? >> i don't have any legal and financial allegations against me so again that's irrelevant. >> no arrest warrant for you? >> no. let me -- >> there are no judgments against you? >> let's talk about daniel craig. >> okay. okay? daniel craig came, vetted me out, they did the due diligence for probably a month. okay, prior to making their donation. arounds signing a contributor agreement. we followed the chain of command and the donation was made. i spoke to his representative directly for multiple phone calls. this is not something i approached them, they approached me, through mutual associates,
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it was not something it was an endeavor for our fact to go out and target high profile people to dupe them as the article had portrayed. >> let me ask you this. beckel said in the interview we just heard he told me you told him you have raised close to $1 million. we just looked at your sec filing, accounting for 90,000 of that i understand you had to give about 50,000 somebody who necessitated it wasn't eligible to donate. what is the discrepancies between 50 and 90,000 and the million beckel said you told him about? >> there's a difference between a pledge and the actual contribution you have in the coffers many you have pledges, in kind donations. pledges are totally different, that's in the millions but they want to see too few things happen prior to weighing in.
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in kind contributions they liked what we were doing and they gave us an opportunity to come in get a discount at the venue, get a discount on supplies and campaign materials. and obviously we had some people that were a little bit more generous. they sent us money. we had to return them obviously because they didn't meet the standards, the regulations you know of what we can accept as a political action committee. >> i'm clear on this now. >> so when you get information from mr. beckel obviously, you're cool but not on the fairway friend. >> carrie lee peterson, thank you for giving us your side of the story. you might think that america's pac system is broken and needs >> he was so ahead of his time.
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>> father junipero serra was so devastating to native american cultures. >> we have suffered greatly, what kind of saint would allow that? >> and you're gonna let the pope know? >> absolutely.
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beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the soundbites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is. >> okay we are continuing this conversation about campaign
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finance, superpacs and the obscene amounts much money being raised and spent already in this election cycle. dan backer is the lead attorney for db capital strategies where he focuses on campaign strategy law. last year he argued a case before the u.s. supreme court. he called on the justices to eliminate the ceiling on what wealthy individuals can donate to federal candidates parties and political action committees in a single two year election cycle. he joins me from washington, dan thank you so much for joining us. i'm going to allow you to make your case for why money spent in the political system is a good thing. but the examples we have just cited, i didn't really think like we were talking about these nuts on tv but the example of the superpac associated with bernie sanders that bernie sanders doesn't want associated with it, is that not the clearest example of where this has gone wrong? >> no, actually it's not.
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i think and i think most people involved on my side of the aisle would say, the right of individuals to engage with one another to associate with one another and to start their own organizations free of the candidates free of the parties tree of pri political insiders, are a good thing. carrie peterson, may or may not be a good example, doesn't look like it, but there are remedies for it. i heard about mr. mr. shuster and mr. beckel talk about buying lamborghinis. you can't buy a lamborghini. tyler harbor in virginia in going to jail. had you same pate also in virginia going to jail. couple of years ago, had you jesse jackson junior sitting congressman for embezzling campaign funds go to
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jail. someone who did the campaign finance work for moat o most of the california democratic party go to jail. the police are doing their jobs and while carrie lee peterson may have somehow gotten $50,000 from james bond has a lot more to do with the fact that daniel craig is throwing around political contributions like it's a fashion accessory and not caring where his money goes. >> i know that the securities and exchange commission last nowhere near the teeth of the authority to do anything about this. are we in a situation where we have a regulatory body who can't possibly police this down? >> their remedies are civil enforcement. the department of justice on the other hand is actively engaged in political prosecutions where they have these problems. they have a guilty plea they are sending
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tyler harbor and sam pate to jail. the department of justice is doing its job investigating acts in the political finance system. and providing a tremendous amounts of data that forms the basis of these complaints. >> what should a guy like me do if i want to support a candidate, to the extent that i want to donate more money than the federal limits are on donating to a candidate? how do i determine what's legitimate and what's not? >> well, if you've already maxed out to the candidate let's say for both elections and you're looking to do that something more the first thing you can look to do is a simple google search, who's out there supporting the candidate of your choice. let's say you support bernie is a bad choice, if anybody googles bernie sanders, they would get
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bernie sanders doesn't like superpacs and doesn't want their money. hopefully q could hem james bond out. it's a bad joke i'm a lawyer it's the best i can do. let's say johnson, the libertarian candidate in 2012, if i don't get in trouble for naming any real candidate. you would google gary johnson, you would find their superpac, their website saying they are supporting gary johnson, they are not the authorized committee, frankly at the level of $50,000 i would have thought that a little due diligence would be have been appropriate here. carrie peterson did not have reports on file. if i had been in that position i would say let's find somebody
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else, there's other ways to look at it. who are the people involved, what are their political pedigrees or professional pedigrees? i don't believe in the political universe always the better people to run on superpacs couple but it doesn't mean that there are not plenty of individuals out there who are trying to start their efforts free from the vendor universe who like to say, i like bernie or hillary or rand paul. >> i think that was what you were discussing with the supreme court. dan packer, thank you for joining us, that is our show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. >> saints and sinners. friends in holy places. >> this murder links the mafia and the church. >> tracking the mob from the dark shadows to the gates of the vatican. >> there's even a mobster who's managed to take the place of
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the priest. >> what happens when the church stands up to the mob? as the pope visits the u.s., we take a closer look at the pope and the mafia. >> with syria continuing its downward spiral into destruction and death, an old ally, russia, is showing renewed support for the country's leader, bashar al-assad. putin and obama hasn't seen much in common, but the eventually


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