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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  September 26, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT

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that is the end of the bull tim. if you want to find out anything more about the stories. our correspond - check out aljazeera.com. the address, aljazeera.com. interi'm ali velshi. toorlgt tonight, the $5 billion boondoggle. the race for the white house. we're following the money to expose a system where anything goes, and the candidates themselves are helpless to 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 if some key states are already saturated and inundated with campaign commercials.
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you would think the election is happening tomorrow. all through the 2016 election season al jazeera america is teaj up with the center for public integrity, a nonpartisan nonprofit investigative operation, we're following the obscene amounts of money that are being spent on the campaign trail, republican candidates running in their country's presidential primaries have put out 11,000 tv ads in the last months, at the same time, democratic candidates produced 4,000 ads. again we are still months away from the 2016 primaries. these figures are the total number of tv ads paid for by candidates, plus special interest groups and so-called superpacs short for superpolitical action committees. superpacs can raise unlimited amount of money, that explains
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why 90% of the gop ads we're talking about were paid for by superpacs. unlike the official candidate campaign superpacs are not permitted to contribute to, or coordinate directly with, political parties, or candidates. but critics charge there's a lot of indirect coordination between superpacs and campaigns. it's a phenomenon that has super-charged campaign finance forecasts for this upcoming election cycle. donors and others now expect an astonishing $5 billion will be race. this is double the amount spent in 2012. and when you follow the money, you see that superpacs have made this election the wild west. tonight we are revisiting a strange tale that we first brought to you a week ago. it involves a mysterious businessman, james bond, and a cease and desist order from bernie sanders.
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stay with me if you have seen some of this before. i'll have new information for you in i just a bit. but first michael beckel sat down with me to explain. so you're digging around and you find this superpac associated with bnders bernie sanders, howu find it? >> american socially united nations found paperwork 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 there's not staff there there's no executive director maintaining a big office on pennsylvania avenue or anything like that.
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>> you had a name at the time ready for bernie sanders 2016. >> senator sanders is a candidate that says he doesn't want superpac support. >> there is nothing illegal about setting up a superpac meant 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 that up superpac? >> that's right. superpacs are part of the wild wild west of campaign finance, pretty much anyone can go out and 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 is not actually supposed to be part of a campaign but it says if it's ready for bernie 2016 or bet on bernie the implication is there's one guy named bernie running for president. >> exactly. one guy named bernie running for
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president and if you google sanders you might run across this website. >> and it has something to do >> exactly. there is a firm that has run a couple of press releases that included pictures of senator sanders and those images ran in times square in new york city. learned that you or i or anyone could do something as simple for $399, the sanders campaign said it thought some of these action he were illegal and it should essentially cease and desist. there was a man named carrie lee peterson who was the founder of this organization. when when we started looking 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
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breaches of contract where his company has been ordered to pay creditors nearly $200,000. >> carrie lee peterson also has cannabis. >> that's right, mr. peterson has been trying to bring together stakeholders in micronesia and albania around the cannabis issue being able to maybe import it, get cannabis that's grown in albania to markets in the united states or in u.s. territories. >> 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 donated money to carrie peterson's super-pac. >> 007 reporting for duty. ♪
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>> mr. craig did in fact donate nearly $50,000 to american socially united. what did mr. craig know about mr. careyy lee peterson's background? did he know about some of these financial and legal problems in his past? >> did you give his people any sense of 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 have spoken with careyy lee beertson. >> i have. >> you have still peeking to him? >> he has told me that this work is not related to the work from his past. >> the money that he has raised and he has told you that it's
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around $1 million perhaps. >> uh-huh. >> there is no rule how he spends this, it doesn't even have to be spent in the direction of the candidate he has on his superpac for a while. >> that's right he can spend it on just about anything he wants. >> on a salary? >> co-spend it on a salary, he could spend it on buying a new lamborghini. but what a lot of donors would hope is their money is being spent on bona fide campaign activity. >> let me ask you to clarify this. a superpac is not supposed to coordinate with a campaign. but at the same time bernie sanders doesn't want this superpac, he doesn't wantfully superpac but under the law bernie sanders doesn't have any rights of preventing superpacs on acting on hi behalf. >> that's right, he can get up on a soapbox and say i don't want any superpacs. some people will listen some won't. >> i don't have a superpac i
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don't have the money from billionaires and that's the way we are going to run our campaign. >> mr. sanders is hamstrung from having people start these groups. >> have you been able to draw any connection between this and citizens united ruling? >> 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, look at what's really going on here. >> last week care carey lee peterson's group americans united nations, filed the correct reports covering january through june this year. it was filed seven weeks beyond the deadline. when we come back, i will talk
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>> wufns the cash starts flowing there is very little overnight, over how the money is spent. in cooperation with the center for public integrity, we've been looking at a superpack called
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american socially united, run by carey peterson. mr. peterson called into our show at the last minute to give his side of the story. it was a hard to hear and somewhat disjointed conversation so i invited limb to appear on the show in person, he accepted my invitation and as you'll see in a moment the conversation touched on many things, marijuana, bernie sanders and act blue, a political action committee that is not in fact a superpac. since 2004 act blue claims to have raised more than 800 million for democratic candidates in america. >> carey, good to see you. you and i had a conversation on friday, i invited you to come here, you and i talked on the phone, i appreciate you getting to the bottom of some things. i want to start with the cease and desist letter from bernie sanders campaign. you said have heard him say he doesn't want a superpac.
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why set up with the superpac, what he doesn't want? >> let's talk about the man at hand, we're talking about superpacs and supporters of this candidate for presidency. now let's just cut to the chase. sanders specifically said, superpacs billionaire funds billionaire class, okay? we know what act blue is. act blue is a superpac. bernie sanders raises his funds through a superpac. how does he say he doesn't approve of superpac? superpacs he doesn't approve of that are buying elections. >> i hear you. but the point is the guy you're supporting doesn't want you to be associated, they've got a letter here saying please stop using bet on bernie 2016, bet on bernie.com, pledge sanders 2016, they say by the way while bernie
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sanders is grateful for your support, harl harmful for bernie sanders. >> i spoke to brad deutsche, and i said you know man we've been here since the beginning before he announced his official run for presidency and okay what are we doing wrong here i'm a new fish to all of this let's just pretend that i didn't hop into this for bad intentions, all right? that's why we're here the earlier part of the year. >> i got the copy of the letter from brad deutsche. >> me and him have communicated since then. it was an ready for hillary 2016.
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that's all it was. >> now nobody ask confused, what do you call the superpac now? >> american social united. we changed the name within days, i told brad i said look it's hard to transition all this because we have a lot of moving parts, okay, give me the week and i will give you a notice back that yes things are transitioned, everything's going in now into sociallyunited.org, they are the domains they exist. they are paid for. they are active. >> you still on the website have pictures of bernie sanders. >> we support issues that bernie sanders supports. you see the four issues they are bullet pointed everything from veteran affairs to middle class issues, to health care, to civil rights. >> so they've asked you actually deutsche last asked you to not use any confusingly similar remarks or proprietary content or senator bernie sanders name or likeness.
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you've still got bernie sanders likeness on it. you want to help this guy. >> we can't support a likeness of a candidate. we're not saying we're representing bernie sanders, obviously it's unofficial. >> you got according to the fpc reports, center for public integrity from january to june? >> negative. >> negative. >> how much did you raise? >> the in kind donation supersede the cash donations. less than $50,000. >> there was $90,000, of which $50,000 was begin back? >> it was more than that. it was more than that. i've been in correspondence with sec, we spoke just this morning, there were some questions that beckel had sent into me. >> 90,690 -- i guess this is the confusion coming in i give you a number that you said is not true and i got it.
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>> let me finish. no no no let me finish. sec declared to me this morning that sometimes when there's a note a memo on an itemized expense or a receipt it's you know filed in their system different didly. there were seven bullet points that beckel sent me. i sent them to fec system. they're telling me that you know what? we'll get back to you in a few days, we can't talk to beckel directly it's in reference to our pac this is something that again, let's pretend that their system is their system bringing brother knows what they're doing, beckel is an analyst and a reporter -- >> let me ask you this straight up -- >> we brought in less than $50,000 cash that's it. >> the point we're really trying to get to is someone is trying to donate to you.
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they might have been confused whether they were donating to a superpack -- >> no. >> well they might be confused -- >> we make that crystal clear they call us up and they say something like you're bernie 2016? no we're not bernie 2016. recurring donations people call up they complain, we give them back their money, that's not who we are. if you make a contribution if you go on to our website right now and make a contribution it specifies you are giving the money to american social united and when you get receipt and thank you note it comes from american social united. >> that is relt new. >> that was back in june. >> according to the report you are running in the red. >> that's based on the money we had to return.
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when the money comes into the coffers, regardless whether it's winnie gonzalez from mexico, we call up we can't -- >> you can't take money from non-u.s. citizen. >> we still got to log it. >> got it. are you able to do stuff, spend money in support of getting bernie sanders elected, do you have money to spend? >> that's what we're doing. >> you layered beckel saying or you heard me say to beckel you told him you got over $1 million. >> those are cash and in kind contributions. people are coming together putting moneys together to get this guy into office, get him on the primary, get him on the ballot that's what's important, get him on the ballot. >> you had actual cash pledges, that you showed us to the fec, how do you make up $900,000 of in kind pledges, advertising or is that --
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>> there's more than that, people want to see certain things happen. >> they don't want to give you the money until -- >> some people want him on the ballot, some people want to help get him on the ballot. some people want to see him support medical cannabis more, that's a political issue that i lobby, i lobby for that right now. >> you have some business interest in cannabis right? >> oh yeah, yeah, definite. that's, i don't make any money off this stuff. you saw how much money it came back to my firm, $2500 came back to my firm, and man look i put in more man hours doing this stuff than stuffer athat -- >> tell me why if you are not bringing in a lot of money and in fact you're in the red at the moment and you're as organized as you are why not go work for his campaign? why not work for that superpac? >> i was waiting for phone to ring and they had the opportunity they could have brought me in. >> they reached out to you and
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said they don't want you as a superpac, what do you do? >> i asked in the beginning of this when i spoke with his campaign manager nick carter, if you don't like what we're doing i came here for a cause i believe in this guy. >> they are telling you politely, i got a second letter from brad deutsche he some as you know, senator sanders has taking a strong position of the citizens united campaign at the forefront of senator sanders campaign. as much as at the can tell you they are not looking for your help. they don't want a superpac, what do you do? >> here's the thing. they didn't say that specifically in that tone. the letters were prior to conversations on clarifying exactly what was the discrepancies. now, consulting with my advisor at fec, are we doing anything
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wrong? we changed the name of the pac, okay? first we changed the name from ready for bernie sanders 2016, i thought we had the drop in tie a name, based on the conveyance with fec. after i was misleaded with the forecast they provided me, we got to drop the name? we thereto of the name american socially united. we got out of there. >> brad deutsche did say, please cease and desist with using bnd bernie sanders proprietary content. >> name and pictures, i didn't get any information to say it was anything wrong with it. >> june 12th they've asked you to take the pictures off, you say hey they didn't send me another letter. the guy
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you wanted to get elected president. >> that's for them to decide. i've talked to them maybe a dozen times. >> i don't think he's got the horsepower to be involved this these things. >> i let fec make the decision, they're the law of the land. >> carey peterson we appreciate your time. >> appreciate it. >> there's no guarantee allow >> what do you want american's to understand? >> there's so much injustice. >> workers are being injured constantly.
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>> i've been asked to keep my voice down cause we are so close
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i. >> david schuster joins me for more on the controversies behind the superpacs. david the center for public integrity did a good job of sabling the fact that we're not sure what's going on with the superpac, it seems to lack some legitimacy and lacks some effort in trying to invoke bernie sanders name. are most of them raising money and spending it for a candidate? >> most of them are but there are 23, 24 mainstream candidates. there are hundreds of superpacs. there may be three or four supporting one candidate but there are examples that are essentially saying i'm going to support this candidate give me money and there are people that are giving them money and there's no evidence that the
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superpac is spending a dime to help the candidate. >> as beckel told us in fact they can spend it on anything, they can be buying cars or spending it on rental space or anything else. in fact rick perry is a perfect example of what you're talking about. raised a lot of money in the superpac what happens? >> there's no guarantee that the superpac has to give money back to the donor. rick perry, announces he's leaving out of the race. a guy says this is $5 million i donated i want the money back. they're under no application, but because this is all in the same circle of friends for rick perry this superpac said we'll give some moisten money back.
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>> if daniel craig says i want my money back, daniel craig has nothing to do with carey lee peterson. >> forcing the superpac to give the $50,back, that's the huge loophole that exists. >> many of whom will be watching the show tonight, this is making a mockery of the campaign finance system. >> like these nuts or fictional folks, who all they have to do is subpoenaed few minutes, a few hundred dollars to file, there's nothing that the candidates can do and nothing the government can do to try stop them. >> a kid -- >> who was inspired by limber butt mccubbins who is a cat. >> thank you, david schuster.
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