The FEC Filings for the campaigns show some fascinating things about the Trump campaign:
- With 1.3MM dollars in the bank, the Trump Campaign Doesn't Have Enough Money for a Three-Bedroom in Santa Monica, Let Alone a Presidential Race (Sanders, for contrast, has about 8x that much in the bank).
- He raised about 17MM and gave 6MM of it . . . to himself. This was in the form of paying top-dollar for services he owned.
- Of money he didn't give to himself, 35k went to the ad agency "Draper Sterling" which is the fictional company in the AMC show Mad Men. It's also a real-life shady firm that seems to only vaguely exist.
- He spent 208,000 on 'hats.'
At this point, for the people who have donated to the campaign--not to mention the people being asked to donate--it is fair to ask: is this some kind of con job?
They might want to talk to some Trump University students.
He's Not The Only One
If there was a most-notable con-job in the campaign it was the Ben Carson endeavor. A fund-raising power-house, it seemed most likely to promote his book and funnel money to his advisers. Carson's tight relationship with a dodgy supplement company doesn't inspire confidence that the candidate was entirely removed from siphoning money off of his followers.
On the other hand, it is notable that the Jeb Bush campaign, while perhaps best described as "hapless" was straight up. It didn't grift funds to its people. It certainly tried its best to get elected. With a haul of over 120MM, it exceeded the Trump-Take by about seven times.
A Money Machine
The problem isn't really the presence of a Carson Get-Rich-Quick effort or even a Trump Pay-Yourself-First approach. It's pretty legitimate to argue that Sanders continued to permit followers to submit funds when he had no chance of winning (talk about your Dream Act). The issue, The Omnivore thinks, is that the Right has sort of absorbed and metabolized the outrage-based short-con and now sees its supporters primary as marks.
- None of the Democratic media has anything like the personality-based hucksterism (buy gold, buy freeze-dried rations, buy water-filtration devices) that conservative media has. Even if you consider Prius ads to be environmental apocalypsism, there isn't an Alex Jones or Glenn Beck hawking them.
- If we consider that Sanders was, at some point, drawing funds from his people while permitting a narrative about his chances of winning to pervade, we should also remember that he was in no way analogous with Carson (who has never held any office, nor had any real campaign message) or Trump (who is under indictment for fraud).
- Although this is true of anyone losing (see Sanders supporters) conspiracy theory is rife in the main-line GOP (see Texas Governor Greg Abbott mobilizing the Texas National Guard to "keep an eye" on the US Military Jade Helm exercises). The prevalence of conspiracy theory in the GOP electorate makes them especially vulnerable to personality based disaster-preparedness pitches . . . which is essentially what Trump's campaign is.
With Donald Trump becoming the presidential nominee for the GOP and his campaign evidencing, if not actual fraud, a serious view of politics as a money-making venture, it is hard not to see the Republican party, primarily, as a vehicle for separating money from their elderly constituency. The proliferation of profit based (as opposed to politically based) parasitic media just amplifies this.