In the past three months, Ben Carson’s rank in the polls has more than tripled. The retired doctor and presidential wannabe now holds second place among all the Republican candidates with 21 percent, trailing frontrunner Donald Trump by only five in an average of recent polls. So why, then, has his campaign resorted to pointless spending?
In the second week of October, for example, Carson’s campaign mailed a package to voters that was of an apparent high cost. It included multiple bumper stickers, static-sticker window decals, postcards and so much more that – even at mass production rates for those novelties, and even at bulk-mail postage rates – this package easily cost over $3 per unit. And the bulk-mail indicator on the envelope that contained all those goodies? That indicates Carson for President apparently sent this costly package to thousands of voters.
Even odder, Carson’s effort was not only bold and costly; it was also a waste of money.
Some of the recipients were Democrats – and not just Democrats, but persons who are elected executives of the Democratic Party – and who never voted Republican in their lives, as the voting records Carson’s campaign has access to can easily indicate.
“How this wound up in my mailbox with my name, I’ll never know,” said one of the recipients, an executive councilman and committee member of the South Carolina Democratic Party who declined use of his name. (“If you identify me, I’ll just end up on the mailing lists of other Republicans.”)
Even experienced campaign consultants are mystified. “Very unusual,” said Lachlan McIntosh of McIntosh Consulting, who has represented campaigns in multiple states. “(The recipients) are not identified supporters or even Republican.”
While these particular mailings “may have been a mistake,” McIntosh acknowledges, he also says they could be the result of the fact that Carson’s campaign is “just rolling in money and don’t know how to spend it.”
And the campaign is rolling in dough at the moment, taking in $31.3 million through the end of September, according to the Federal Election Commission. That’s more than all other Republican candidates. Almost $21 million of that was received in just the last three months, too.
His campaign attributes that recent surge to Carson’s infamous anti-Muslim comments, issued in a September television interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Where the contributions come from supports that premise, as well, at least in part.
For example, many of Carson’s donors are with churches and religious organizations, and presumably because of his regular declarations of faith. Tying in to his anti-Obamacare sentiment, some of the contributors are even combinations from the fields of faith and medicine, like Adventist Health (a faith-healing facility operated by the 7th Day Adventists Church), and Bayside Medical Missions (a group that says it provides care to poor around the world, but that spends three times more on travel than it does on anything medical – and that sits on most of the money it collects, too, according to its IRS records).
Before anyone else donates to Carson’s campaign, though, they should check out how he’s spending that money. His recent bulk-mail blowout ain’t the half of it. For example, in the last three reported months, Carson’s campaign spent:
- Almost $60,000 on live entertainment at only four different events,
- About $750,000 in travel expenses – not for him or his staff, but for folks with private consulting firms and financial advisers, who suddenly needed to be with Carson during his campaign travels,
- $1.9 million on fundraising phone calls, and
- $2 million on website services to one company.
Yup, as quick as that money was coming in to Carson during that last filing period, it was leaving just as fast – 68.5 percent of it, in fact. And by blowing big bucks on things that ordinarily aren’t anywhere near the costs his campaign paid.
Like that recent mailing of campaign materials to folks who’ll never vote for him, for example.
Featured image by Rob Groce