Attorney Michael Avenatti has come under fire over a now-deleted tweet encouraging people to "chip in for Beto now," linking to what appeared to be a fundraising page for Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke.
In the fine print of the now-deleted campaign, however, O'Rourke supporters discovered that half the proceeds went to Avenatti's Fight PAC, formed a little over seven weeks ago.
Users were able to manually allocate funds entirely to O'Rourke, however the default sent half of all money collected to Avenatti's Political Action Committee.
“It is pretty skeezy,” said Brendan Fischer, the director of federal and FEC reform programs at the Campaign Legal Center, of the fundraising tactic. “If Avenatti wanted to raise funds for Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, he could just share a link to the Beto for Senate donation page. But he didn’t. Avenatti’s tweet gave viewers the impression their donation would support Beto for Senate, and given how easy it is to make a one-click donation through ActBlue, some viewers could miss the fine print disclosing that their donation would be split with Avenatti’s PAC.”-Daily Beast
Avenatti called the criticism "complete nonsense," noting that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris "do the same thing." Perhaps sensing he'd made a huge mistake, Avenatti deleted the page - telling the Daily Beast in a text message: "It wasn’t worth the nonsense that resulted from people that don’t understand how common this is."
Avenatti, 47, came under fire earlier this month after his introduction of the phrase "gang rape" into the national dialogue may have gotten Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to angry Democrats. His client, Julie Swetnick, claimed without evidence that Kavanaugh facilitated gang rape orgies at house parties in the early 80's. Many say the accusation dragged credible allegations into absurd territory, while GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine - an undecided swing vote - called Swetnick's claim "outlandish," and a "stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained in our American consciousness."
The left was not pleased:
The spotlight-stealing lawyer, who also represented Stormy Daniels, is responsible for drawing the media's attention to Julie Swetnick, an alleged victim of Kavanaugh who told an inconsistent and unpersuasive story. Swetnick's wild accusation provided cover for fence-sitting senators to overlook the more plausible allegation leveled by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, and to declare that Kavanaugh was being subjected to false smears.
Sen. John Kennedy (R–La.) echoed Collins, telling MSNBC's Chuck Todd, "I think this process changed dramatically when Mr. Avenatti entered the picture. I think a lot of people, including many of my Democratic colleagues, felt like we had gotten into the foothills of preposterous." -Reason.com
Collins called the Swetnick allegation "outlandish" and Kennedy said "this process changed dramatically when Mr. Avenatti entered the picture." Michael Avenatti provided cover for Republicans to confirm Kavanaugh. Nice work, dude. https://t.co/yOMHyrOqPF— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) October 5, 2018
Beto O'Rourke, meanwhile, announced that his campaign raised $38 million in the third quarter - $16 million more than the previous quarterly funding record of $22 million by 2000 Hillary Clinton challenger Rick Lazio.
Seems like there's big money in Beto, although that was before he was seen dabbing in public...
Here is a video of Beto O’Rourke dabbing. You’re welcome pic.twitter.com/TqiiCcfS97— Chris Strider (@stridinstrider) October 8, 2018