Monday, May 12, 2008

What did she get for $20 million?

Hillary should demand a refund:
Clinton aides continued to insist that she will remain in the race even while confirming that she is $20 million in debt. "The voters are going to decide this," senior adviser Howard Wolfson said on "Fox News Sunday," acknowledging the $20 million figure. . . .
As of a month ago, most of that debt was reportedly owed to the firm of former Clinton top strategist Mark Penn:
A source who has had close connections with Penn got word to me that he believes the Clinton campaign is $10 million in debt to Penn, Schoen & Berland, which is owned by Burson-Marsteller. The campaign's March report to the Federal Election Commission recorded indebtedness to the company of nearly $2.5 million (with its expenses for the month listed at $3.1 million).
My sources suggest that Clinton's full indebtedness may be revealed only gradually. This money link helps explain why Penn is still around even though organized labor demanded his scalp last summer and he is blamed inside the campaign for failing to perceive the public's demand for "change."
Just how much money Clinton owes Penn could cause major difficulties. If not repaid
promptly, would it constitute an illegal financial contribution? Because the British WPP owns Burson-Marsteller, would that debt constitute an illegal foreign contribution?
This is one of my pet peeves about political professionals in both parties. The top operatives get rich running campaigns, and they get paid whether the candidates win or lose. There is a built-in bias for operatives to respond to every problem in the campaign by saying, "The solution is to give me more money." The pollsters always want more money for polling, the media strategists want more money for ads, etc.

What results is a high "burn rate" -- spending campaign funds as fast, or faster, than they come in. These contributions often come from true-believer types, in response to "urgent" appeals to the effect of, "Help us save America!"

Those donors are getting ripped off, if that money goes mainly to line the pockets of some bigshot operative. And how can a candidates, in good conscience, ask students and housewives to work as unpaid volunteers while, at the same time, the campaign is pouring out millions in fat fees to expensive consultants? The consultants, strategists, and pollsters get paid, win or lose.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There are McMansions in Virginia horse country -- and yachts on the Chesapeake Bay -- that were paid for with consulting contracts on losing campaigns.

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