Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who is currently challenging Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary on a right-wing platform, had an interesting job for a time in 2007: Appearing as an infomercial pitchman — for a company telling people that they can get free grant money from the federal government.
In 2007, shortly after Hayworth lost his re-election battle in 2006, Hayworth appeared in a half-hour informercial for the National Grants Conferences, a program set up by a company called Proven Methods Seminars, which advertises itself as running seminars in which people can find out how to get grant money from the federal government — which the infomercial’s on-screen text pitched as being “FREE MONEY” in quotes.
“Well I don’t want to shock anybody’s sensibilities, but I have to use a four-letter word: Real. This is real,” Hayworth said in the infomercial. “The money is out there, the opportunities are out there. And by the way, it’s not something where it’s the government’s money — it’s really your money. You surrendered it in the form of taxation. Now’s the time to take advantage of a situation where the government can invest in you. And in turn, you’ll have a chance to build a business, or make a better life for yourself — and in so doing, you’ll help improve the country.”
(Video reel produced by Rachel Slajda.)
It should be noted that the company’s conferences and business practices have received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau, and in 2007 it was the target of a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, signed by 32 state attorneys general.
Hayworth campaign spokesman Mark Sanders claimed to TPMDC that the McCain campaign has been shopping the video around to local media, and dismissed it as an attack from a rival. Sanders also pointed out that the company’s founder, Michael Milin, has donated money over the years to John McCain’s campaigns.
When asked for comment, McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers responded strongly. “We actually donated the money to charity as soon as we found out about it,” said Rogers. “Let’s be clear: J.D. Hayworth lent his name and the his credibility as a former Member of the U.S. Congress to help an obvious rip-off scam. Sen. McCain never did. There’s no comparison to be made here.”
We asked Sanders whether this infomercial was consistent with Hayworth’s platform of cutting federal spending. “It’s two different things. Cutting back on federal spending and educating people about what the federal government can do are two totally different things,” said Sanders. “And again, I would just reiterate, this company brought to Congressman Hayworth’s attention by a very respected former Congressman, J.C. Watts, so he had no reason to believe there was anything wrong at all.”
What did Sanders mean, we asked, that cutting back spending and educating people on what the government can do for them? “Well, the government certainly does provide services that are necessary, such as protecting the border,” said Sanders “and letting people know that the government does have a role in our lives is certainly part of what the Congressman and any elected official should be doing.”
Did this company’s services have anything to do with protecting the border? “I don’t know, I obviously wasn’t around, I don’t know what they did, but the analogy is still clear. Government does have a role in our lives,” said Sanders “But the Congressman, through the years when he was in Congress, was an advocate and author of tax cuts, in 2001 and 2003 that helped stimulate the economy. He also was an advocate of taking care of the people in Arizona when he saw that there was a need. while the two may not be exactly the same, the analogy is still the same. Government plays a role, and he recognizes that.”
Phone calls to Proven Methods Seminars and to J.C. Watts were not immediately returned.