How to tell if a politician might be stealing campaign cash

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Individuals making small contributions — the kind of donors candidates love to talk about at campaign rallies — transformed the political landscape in 2020.

Small donors, those giving $200 or less to a candidate, accounted for a whopping $1.8 billion in federal campaign contributions by the weeks leading up to last fall’s elections, according to a joint analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute of Money in Politics.

That is more than three times the amount they gave in the 2016 cycle, and it accounted for 27% of the total raised from all sources. That doesn’t include the flood of individual donations to parties and political action committees.

But how many of those contributors did any due diligence before clicking on the “donate” button, to make sure their hard-earned money was actually going toward legitimate campaign expenses?

After all, tales of politicians misusing campaign funds are legion, and practically as old…

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