Federal Politics

Published — January 10, 2018 Updated — January 15, 2018 at 6:55 pm ET

Telemarketer for conservative causes pays $250,000 fine

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Pro-Trump groups, Carson presidential campaign among InfoCision’s clients

This article was co-published by NBC News, Public Radio International, the Columbus Dispatch and the Buffalo News.

Introduction

A telemarketing company that fundraises for politicians, charities and major corporations has settled a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission over allegedly “false and misleading” tactics.

Akron, Ohio-based InfoCision Inc., whose clients have included a pro-President Donald Trump political action committee, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential committee and groups connected to the Tea Party, today agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a civil complaint brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission.

During the past five years, federal political committees have paid InfoCision at least $24.8 million, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records indicates.

The federal government accused InfoCision’s telemarketers of misleading donors by telling them they weren’t calling to collect donations when, in fact, they were — a violation of the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule.

“Consumers in the United States have suffered and will suffer injury as a result of Defendant’s violations,” the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission wrote to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Absent some penalty, the government agencies argue, InfoCision “is likely to continue to injure consumers and harm the public interest.”

Steve Brubaker, chief of staff for InfoCision, said the company disputes the allegations but agreed to settle the case to avoid a lengthy court battle.

“We feel strongly the investigation had no merit whatsoever,” Brubaker said. “The agency never produced a single consumer complaint, or even suggested that consumers actually had been confused.”

InfoCision has come under fire in the past for its telemarketing practices. Former employees have alleged the company preys on elderly people, and an investigation by Bloomberg Markets Magazine found InfoCision was keeping most of the money it was raising on behalf of the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and other charities.

InfoCision’s settlement document with the Department of Justice, filed today in federal court, doesn’t include details about which charities InfoCision had been calling on behalf of when it allegedly misled donors. Mitchell J. Katz, a spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, said that information isn’t public.

Political committees that have hired InfoCision include Carson America, the campaign committee representing former presidential candidate Ben Carson, which paid $5.2 million. A Carson representative could not immediately be reached.

A pro-Trump committee, Great America PAC, has spent $435,600 on InfoCision since 2016, according to FEC filings.

The Tea Party Majority Fund has spent about $2.2 million on InfoCision since 2013, and the Tea Party Leadership Fund paid the company about $433,100 during the same time period.

Conservative-leaning Citizens United Political Victory Fund, which is led by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, has paid InfoCision $2.1 million since 2013.

The Stop Hillary PAC, which morphed into the Committee to Defend the President, also used InfoCision to raise funds in 2014.

Dan Backer, an attorney and political consultant who represents numerous conservative political committees including Committee to Defend the President and Great America PAC, defended InfoCision as having a “sterling reputation for integrity.”

“This is just another a case of government bullying by unaccountable bureaucrats,” Backer said. “It’s outrageous, and exactly why Americans across the board are disgusted with Washington.”

Some corporate entities and academic institutions have likewise been eager to work with InfoCision.

The company’s website includes testimonials from big-name corporate clients. AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Little Tikes, a children’s toy maker, are among companies that have done business with InfoCision.

InfoCision and its founders also bought the naming rights to several Akron, Ohio-area high school and college athletic fields, including a 20-year, $10 million deal to dub the University of Akron’s football facility “InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.”

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.