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17 Jan, 2019 04:27

Texas man made over $500,000 running fake PACs for Bernie, Clinton & Trump in 2016

Texas man made over $500,000 running fake PACs for Bernie, Clinton & Trump in 2016

A politically-promiscuous Texas entrepreneur has been accused of running fake campaign accounts and websites for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump during the 2016 election and pocketing the cash.

Kyle Gerald Prall has been indicted on 20 counts of fraud, money laundering, creating false records, and making false statements to federal agencies by a federal grand jury in Austin on Tuesday, charges stemming from his election activities. Also indicted are two aliases: "Jacob Collins" and "John Holloway."

Prall allegedly set up and ran three political action committees, using slightly altered election slogans – "Feel Bern,""HC4President," and "Trump Victory," later changed to "Make America Great" – and solicited donations online through sleek, official-looking websites and sophisticated targeted ad campaigns, claiming donated funds would go to the candidates. While he claimed the money would pay for voter transportation, volunteer training, and political contributions, he mostly spent it on himself, according to the indictment, using fake LLCs and other financial trickery in order to cover his tracks.

It's uncertain why Prall spread his political (dis)loyalty around, but the Bernie PAC was by far his most successful, raising over $300,000 in contributions, most of it in just three months after launching the campaign in December 2015. Trump Victory trailed at a distant second with $165,000, while the Clinton PAC raised a comparatively pitiful $73,000 despite operating for two months longer than the Trump PAC.

"Feel Bern" raised red flags during the election when it was discovered that most of its donations were being funneled to individuals associated with the group, with marketing and advertising representing the only significant expenditures other than transfers to the shell LLCs. By June, it had changed its name to Socially Responsible Government PAC – either because of the cease-and-desist letter they received from Sanders' campaign or because they realized it's illegal to use a candidate's name in the name of a PAC – but continued spending its money in socially irresponsible ways, dropping thousands of dollars on Miami and Las Vegas nightclubs. 

This isn't Prall's first brush with the law. He previously ran BustedMugshots.com, which collected mugshots of individuals who had been arrested and displayed them at the top of search engine results, inviting those pictured to pay hundreds of dollars to have the images removed. One intrepid "victim" claims to have dug up quite a rap sheet on Prall, including one felony drug charge which was made to disappear due to Prall's father's judicial connections. He appears to have shut that website down after corrections departments caught on to mugshot-extortion scams and restricted access to the personal information of arrested individuals.

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