Austin Cassidy: Family Ties: The Biggest Difference Between Gary Johnson and Ron Paul

The original article can be found in Uncovered Politics here .

By Austin Cassidy on June 8, 2012

What’s the biggest difference between Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Gary Johnson? It’s not ideological, although there are some key and important distinctions on their positions.

The biggest difference is money. How much they have and how they’ve spent it.

For Gary Johnson, his whole campaign has been a shoestring affair. Having raised only several hundred thousand dollars in pursuit of the Presidency, he’s spending the limited funds he has on travel and critical campaign operations. Calling the Johnson campaign “budget conscious” would be an accurate descriptor. They know their resources are tight, the money they have raised has not come easily and they seem legitimately dedicated to stretching their campaign-dollar to the maximum.

The same cannot be said for Ron Paul’s latest bid for the Republican nomination or the myriad organizations he and his family members have spawned to fleece the “true believers” of their every last dime. People don’t just support Ron Paul, many are personally obsessed with the man. They give and give, and then give some more. In fact, it often seems like Ron Paul’s role model is less Barry Goldwater than something closer to L. Ron Hubbard , the science fiction author and founder of the cult-like cash-cow known as Scientology.

It would be one thing if the Paul campaign spent their money as wisely as the Johnson campaign. There’s no telling how much could have been accomplished with the tens of millions of dollars that the Ron Paul machine has generated over the last half-decade. Unfortunately, we will never know what might have been.

Recently we learned that Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s bumbling campaign manager and grandson-in-law, had been paid a staggering $586,616 by the Paul campaign and associated organizations. That number has likely grown by, at least, tens of thousands of dollars since it was first reported. Gary Johnson could have financed his entire campaign thus far on Benton’s salary alone!

The problem goes beyond just Benton, who recently enraged Paul supporters when he put out a series of statements to the public that explained a shift in campaign strategy away from active campaigning in upcoming primaries. He explained this was a way to conserve campaign resources. The press interpreted this as Paul suspending his campaign and the announcement likely cost Paul a significant number of delegates in the Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas primaries. It also signaled a desire to preserve relations with the Romney campaign and the GOP establishment, likely with the hopes of protecting the future career of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Some of the Paul diehards have suggested that Benton “acted alone” in making these campaign policy shifts and in setting his own salary, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is Ron Paul’s standard operating procedure: his family gets paid, every time.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has noted that Representative Paul was one of the worst offenders in the U.S. House for using campaign and PAC money to enrich family members. In CREW’s recent survey of 2008 and 2010 spending by Congressional candidates, they noted: “Rep. Paul’s campaign committee, Committee to Re-elect Ron Paul, paid salaries to his
daughter, his grandson, his daughter’s mother-in-law, his granddaughter, his grandson-in-law, and another relative. In addition, his campaign committee reimbursed the congressman and several other relatives and paid his brother’s accounting firm. Finally, Rep. Paul’s leadership political action committee (PAC), Liberty PAC, reimbursed the congressman, paid his brother’s accounting firm, and paid his daughter a salary.”

Considering the way that the Ron Paul political machine has generated so much of its millions of dollars from small donors over the last half-decade, many of whom could hardly afford to give to a political campaign, it is shocking that this is how much of the money was apparently being spent. Many of the footsoldiers of the liberty movement have dedicated so much of their lives to supporting this one man, it’s reached such an unhealthy degree that they can no longer see the greater cause they are supposedly fighting for.

There is now a Libertarian governor with a resume far more impressive than that of Congressman Paul, standing up and reaching his hand out to them. And yet they largely ignore this amazing opportunity, fixated on a sad old man who has mesmerized them into attempting to etch his likeness onto everything from chocolate bars to a pub in New York City to discussion of building a statue of the man himself.

Described by some as one of the “biggest purveyors of nepotism in U.S. history,” the failure of Ron Paul to even consider passing the torch to Gary Johnson shows that he is now entirely focused on building his family’s political dynasty, and perhaps even trying to find a spot for his son Rand on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. Ron Paul’s supporters aren’t just promoting the message of liberty, they are worshiping a man who deserves very little of their praise.

Contrast this gross abuse of donor trust with how the Johnson campaign operates. Gary Johnson’s adult son, Erik Johnson, has been working day and night on the governor’s campaign and is getting paid no salary to do so. The governor even got a little choked up when he acknowledged his son’s sacrifice in a touching moment during his acceptance speech at the Libertarian Convention last month.

Gary Johnson is an avid skier, adventurer, and bicyclist. He has reached the highest peaks on four of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest. He’s built a successful private sector business, and been elected the chief executive of a large state for two highly productive terms, during which he vetoed more bills than the governors of the other 49 states combined. His libertarian credentials are unmatched, and yet today Rand Paul endorsed Mitt Romney for President. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about the Paul clan’s priorities.


Austin Cassidy writes this to describe himself:  ” I am a registered Libertarian, formerly a Republican. I was one of the original co-founders of Independent Political Report back in 2008. Before that I was the creator of a site called Third Party Watch that was the IPR of that earlier era.

Darcy Richardson and I co-founded Uncovered Politics together in 2010, with the aim of expanding a bit beyond writing exclusively about the third party world.”

18 thoughts on “Austin Cassidy: Family Ties: The Biggest Difference Between Gary Johnson and Ron Paul

  1. Trent Hill

    Speaking as someone who has differences with the Paul campaign and who respects Austin Cassidy: This article is incredibly counterproductive. That’s about the nicest way I could put it. It’s speculative, angry, and it’s unlikely to attract any support from the Ron Paul people–instead it will drive Paul supporters the other way. It’s a good thing Johnson is handling this issue with grace, because his supporters and the LP aren’t.

  2. paulie


    Depends which Johnson supporters.


    Thanks for reposting. Why ALL CAPS in title?

  3. Robert Capozzi

    Ambivalence here. Some find comfort in myths, others appreciate de-mystification of myths. Most like a bit of both.

    It would certainly be unwise for someone connected to Team GJ or official LP putting this article out there. AC is neither.

  4. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Paulie, about the caps: I’m always confused as to how to handle a title with a colon in it because I like to put a colon after the writer’s name. I usually substitute it with a dash, but since this is the way Austin had his title (caps for the one word) I just used his. How do you handle the two colon thing?

  5. Thane Eichenauer

    I am not bothered by this article or the points it brings up. The main point is that some of Ron Paul’s family sees some benefits that may well be related to their relation to Ron Paul. I’ve seen this issue brought up by another modern day leftist.

    I wouldn’t be at all bothered if the Gary Johnson campaign had money to employ his son that it might do so.

    Successful political campaigns employ people. That some of them happen to be related to the candidate isn’t offensive to me.

    If I buy a book I don’t ask the author if he used a relative to proofread it or if he paid that relative for that labor – why do I care I got a good product (hopefully). As a campaign donor I pay for a campaign in a similar fashion that I buy a book – I presumably “bought” a product based on past performance and my hopes of future performance.

  6. David Colborne

    A hyphen would work. Something like:

    Austin Cassidy – Title: More Title

    As for the content, I agree that this isn’t something that needs to be trumpeted too loudly from the GJ camp, but it does need to be said. One of the problems with the liberty movement right now is that it’s less of a “liberty” movement and more of a Ron Paul movement. If we’re ever going to transition the movement to a broader, ideologically based movement, one with clear goals and ideals, we need to de-mystify our sacred cows. Otherwise, the movement is going to get stuck in an unproductive hole of, “Well, Ron Paul said…” instead of fruitful discussions about what philosophies and policies will increase liberty, both in the short and the long term.

  7. Deran

    The tone of this article is a bit hsrsh, but it does present some interesting hypothesis abt why the Ron Paul campaign hasn’t really made the full effort this cycle.

  8. Phil

    Ron Paul is a nice guy but he let’s people worship him. The Liberty movement would be much better off if he encouraged people to fight for liberty in other ways besides just following him.

    The liberty movement isn’t about just one man but the Ron Paul campaign is. His followers who truly value freedom will continue to work for it by joining the Libertarian party or possibly other groups. Those who were just worshiping a guy who gives speeches will follow his big government loving kid.

  9. NewFederalist

    I believe Ron Paul is a very nice man. I also believe he lets people close to him take advantage of him. The older he gets the worse this becomes. He should exit the stage before he totally disgraces everything he has fought so hard to achieve. He is still almost on top. It is time to retire.

  10. Kleptocracy And You

    Read the article again! Why retire? SUCK the movement dry and ENRICH your family during the process ! Proof that dumbass mushrooms are within the L movement just like they flood society as a whole…..

    Use the little grey cells for good…

    Donate To Former Gov. Gary Johnson TODAY….
    Has everyone who lands in the Libertarian Quad put out a Gary Johnson 2012 Road/Yard Sign yet ? I hope you have ! Bumper Stickers available ALSO !! ‘If it is to be, it is up to ME’ !!! CARPE DIEM
    – Please Visit and get involved

  11. Erik Viker

    I am a little bit curious about what Republican Ron Paul will do with all the campaign contribution money he hasn’t spent.

  12. Erik Viker

    Trent @ 13, he’d be smart to do that because the C4L operation can then send him hefty “consulting” fees during his retirement. Republican Ron Paul is nobody’s fool. It sure would be nice to see the old gent contribute a chunk of his residual campaign money to Libertarian Party candidates, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that.

  13. JT

    I agree entirely with Trent’s post 1.

    I’d add that comparing what GJ has done politically to what RP has done is comparing apples to oranges. GJ was a state executive; RP is a single federal legislator. Suffice to say that if most members of Congress always voted the way that RP votes, the federal government would be far, far less expensive & controlling than it is today.

    In addition, I don’t think that RP’s medical practice should be overlooked as a professional achievement. It’s not as though RP has only been a professional politician, as many other legislators are. He clearly wasn’t the athlete that Johnson is/was, but that’s at the bottom of what I care about in a candidate.

  14. Johncjackson

    Paul was a high-level track athlete and pretty good baseball player. I’m sure he’s a pretty good athlete still, for someone of his age.

  15. Johncjackson

    As far as the article goes, it’s nothing new and fair game, IMHOl. However, I don’t really see the relevance of Jesse Benton’s salary and other expenses without some context. I mean, how much did Romney, Perry, Santorum, Bachmann, Newt pay their people, family, and THEMSELVES through consulting fees and reimbursements? How much did Bachmann pay Ed Rollins for a short-term long-shot losing effort?

    As far as hoarding the money goes and flipping it to C4L or some other Paul-related org, I don’t think it’s as much of an issue now as it was in 2008. I’m fairly certain the 2008 campaign had a LOT more unspent money. I don’t think Paul has much money. He spent it.

    I’m not even a big Paul fan. I root for him a little and admire him for some things, but overall he’s far from an ideal liberty candidate. But with his fanatics, he really can’t win. If he saves all the money like last time, then he wasn’t trying to run a serious campaign. If he spends all the money in 2012 like they want him to, while the Pauls and everyone else with any real knowledge of the race KNEW he was not going to win, then they think he wasted money.

  16. Ad Hoc

    More and more Ron Paul supporters are switching to Gary Johnson regardless of what the Paul family does; Alex Jones just endorsed Johnson on his show, as did Jesse Ventura the other day…

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