In one request, the link to the Blue South PAC donation page on ActBlue, the Democratic digital donation processing site, was highlighted in bright yellow and appeared to be part of the campaign: actblue.com/donate/team-beto.
Those who clicked were greeted with a message: “Show your support by donating and joining Team Beto!” Except 100 percent of the money went to the Blue South PAC, according to the fine print on the donation page.
A related group, Defeat Republicans, posted a nearly identical email, with a similar URL highlighted in yellow: actblue.com/donate/official-beto.
Both groups are linked to the same digital strategist, Zach Schreiber, who, on behalf of both Blue South PAC and Defeat Republicans, emailed a statement saying that their digital strategy was “in line with industry best practices.”
“Our community looks to us for news, action alerts and opportunities to help Democrats elect,” the statement said, adding that the PACs “look forward to partnering with the Beto campaign.”
Founded in the summer of 2020, Defeat Republicans have raised nearly $1 million in less than a year through the end of June 2021. At the time, federal records show it paid Mr. Schreiber $133,000 and spent an additional $208,000 on a company, Opt-In Strategies, which lists him as an advisor on its website. Blue South PAC had spent only about $37,000 until the end of June, with more than a third of the spending going to another consulting firm, UpWave Digital Solutions, founded by Mr. Schreiber.
Federal data shows that Defeat has given Republicans more than $400,000 to Democratic campaigns. The largest portion, $230,000, went to Jennifer Carroll Foy, who ran for governor of Virginia as a Democrat; Ms. Foy’s campaign paid Opt-In Strategies $67,500 for “list acquisition,” state records show. The PACs also said it contributed $5,000 to Mr. O’Rourke.