[Ed. – This sounds like a debate we need, even if the Hawkins piece may be telling only one part of the story. See the bonus reader comment below.]
For example, did you know that despite the fact that it raised a staggering 13 million dollars, The National Draft Ben Carson for President isn’t affiliated with Ben Carson and the small percentage of money it spent on independent expenditures didn’t go to him? Now you know why Ben Carson’s business manager, Armstrong Williams wouldn’t allow the group’s campaign director to take a picture with Carson and said, “People giving money think it’s going to Dr. Carson and it’s not. …Our hands are tied. We don’t want people exploited.” …
How many conservative candidates lost in 2014 because of a lack of funds? How many of them came up short in primaries, lost winnable seats or desperately tried to fight off better-funded challengers? How much of a difference would another 50 million dollars have made last year? That’s a very relevant question because the 10 PACs at the bottom of this list spent $54,318,498 and only paid out $3,621,896 to help get Republicans elected. If that same $54,318,498 had gone to the Club for Growth Action PAC and it had been as efficient with it as it was with the money it had, $47,800,278 would have gone to Republican candidates instead of the meager $3,621,896 that those candidates received from those 10 PACs during this cycle. The conservative movement has a right to expect more than this from the PACs that are representing it.
[This comment at the piece raises valid points, however. – Ed.]
Alas, your research is rather shallow here. What if a committee spends millions building an actual field force or team such as 99 county leaders in Iowa or similar in NH? What if a committee spends hugely to subsidize tickets to state GOP conventions for its partisans and training them so they understand their state GOP clockwork? What if a committee buys a booth or table at every state or conservative convention it can identify like CPAC (and many much smaller events) and supplies those tables with abundant free swag? (and subsidizes discount tickets to same?) What if a committee invests millions in its digital infrastructure so it can recruit and train 25,000 volunteers and 140,000 donors? None of these activities show up as independent expenditures, yet it’s the basic ground game that is undertaken to elect people in our country. So looking merely at ‘independent expenditures’ can be a bit misleading for committees that undertake the basic ground game of getting a leader elected.
National Digital Director
Draft Carson Committee