Book Excerpt: George Phillies on Barr 2008

U.S. Libertarian presidential candidate George...

George Phillies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long-time Libertarian Party activist, former presidential candidate and frequent IPR commenter George Phillies is also the author of numerous books, including Funding Libertyan examination of how Harry Browne‘s campaigns in 1996 and 2000 were financed and where the money went.

Phillies is hard at work on his latest book, tentatively titled Scampaigns, which covers similar information on the 2008 and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential campaigns of, respectively, Bob Barr and Gary Johnson. The following are some brief excerpts from the working draft of the section on Barr’s campaign (selected by me  to whet your interest — as an editorial note and bias disclosure, yes, I think you SHOULD read this book when it becomes available) .

On Barr’s finances as of July 2008:

Once again, as a few cycles ago, we have a Presidential campaign that is making interesting spending decisions. With over $600,000 in through the door through the end of July, the Bobb Barr campaign has spent more than $83,000 on office space and office equipment. It has spent more than $78,000 on information technology and computers, mostly to Terra Eclipse. Travel costs were closing in on $120,000 by 7/31.

Campaign spending on people has crossed the $100,000 line. That includes over $27,000 to Doug Bandow, who was getting $10,000 month after month.

Shane Cory was paid $18,000 in July. That annualizes to $216,000 a year. Of course, the pay could include several months. Russ Verney was not paid from early June through to the end of July.

Ballot access was over $20,000, about 3% of income to date. Support firms Advocacy Ink and Liberty Strategies between them have received almost $60,000.

Advertising of all sorts is close to $50,000, including apparent arrangements with ultraright news source NewsMax.

Barr, Phillies notes, traveled in style:

A search of the Barr 2008 FEC Financial disclosures reveals total spending for limo services, for that one month [September, 2008], of $18,691.56, including payments to A First Choice Limo, Alternative Business Enterprises, Crystal Limousine, Inc., Executive Three Enterprises, International Limousines, Lavdas Limousines, Luxury Limo, M&M Limousine Service, Royal Legacy Limousine, and Town Car Executive. A member of the Barr campaign staff, much later, confirmed that Barr was extremely fond of being taken everywhere by limousine. There was also travel associated with those Limos, including travel expense payments to various airlines and hotels for $27,696, and $1687 in meeting expenses.

From the conclusion of Phillies’s analysis of the 2008 campaign:

The Barr campaign spent barely 1% of its money on actual press advertising, including newspaper ads, Google Ads, and the very-­far­-right Newsmax web distribution. For classic public outreach, the campaign spent perhaps 4% of its income. That includes $12,619 to its publisher for Barr’s book.

The campaign spent ten times as much to rent real estate and office equipment as on classic outreach.

The campaign spent (including debts to Terra Eclipse) ten times as much on its web page as on classic outreach.

The campaign spent considerably more on limousines and town cars than on classic outreach.

 

22 thoughts on “Book Excerpt: George Phillies on Barr 2008

  1. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Jill,

    George plans to publish before the national convention. The section on Johnson’s 2012 campaign is not completed yet. I’ll be asking him for permission to publish excerpts from that part once the book is done, or if he sends me “working draft” material from it with permission.

  2. Andy

    I recall the Barr campaign paying out a ridiculous sum of money for an air conditioner for their office, something like $18,000.

  3. Shane

    Ridiculous. George, why don’t you ever try and confirm your reports by actually speaking with people? FEC statements are about as in-depth as a kiddie pool.

    You need to be very careful about mentioning my name and make sure you’re 100% accurate. Just saying.

  4. Andy

    “A search of the Barr 2008 FEC Financial disclosures reveals total spending for limo services, for that one month [September, 2008], of $18,691.56, including payments to A First Choice Limo, Alternative Business Enterprises, Crystal Limousine, Inc., Executive Three Enterprises, International Limousines, Lavdas Limousines, Luxury Limo, M&M Limousine Service, Royal Legacy Limousine, and Town Car Executive. A member of the Barr campaign staff, much later, confirmed that Barr was extremely fond of being taken everywhere by limousine.”

    Was it really necessary for Bob Barr to ride around in limousines? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to ride in regular taxis?

  5. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Shane,

    FEC reports are submitted by the campaigns and signed by their treasurers under the threat of civil or criminal penalties for willful inaccuracy. If you’re saying that the Barr campaign lied on its FEC reports, how about some details?

  6. Andy

    It may be a good idea to create a model campaign spending template, as in a breakdown of what percent of a campaign’s budget should go to advertising, what percent for travel, what percent for staff salaries/pay, what percent for a website, what percent for an office, etc…

    Everyone needs to realize that it costs money to run a campaign, but there is a line between legitimate campaign spending and a campaign wasting money and/or scamming donors.

    There is nothing worse when it comes to political campaigns for somebody to make a donation to a campaign, only to find out later that their donation was squandered, and/or that they flat out got scammed out of money. This makes people hesitant to donate to future campaigns.

    Also, as Libertarians, the entire reason that we are supposed to be involved with this stuff is because we are trying to advance the Libertarian Party and movement, and campaigns wasting donations does not help to achieve this objective.

    If it were possible to come up with a model campaign spending template, candidates for the nomination could be shown the template, and then asked how closely they intend to stick to it.

    I know that FEC reports come out a month or two after the spending takes place, but how the campaign spends its money ought to be monitored and reports should be made available to the donors and to the party in general.

    I think that part of the problem is that there have been candidates who have no track record of having run for office as Libertarian Party candidates before, and there have been too many people working on these campaigns who are either not libertarians, or who have little track record.

    Really, any candidate for the nomination who fills their staff with non-libertarian mercenaries, or who hires a non-libertarian mercenary as a high level campaign staffer (like say their campaign manager is not a libertarian), ought to be disqualified from getting the nomination.

    I have talked about this here and in other places for several years now, but I see the same type of stuff go on in ballot access drives. Most of the people in the ballot access business are non-ideological mercenaries (I’m talking the business as a whole, so I am talking ballot initiatives, referendums, recalls, as well as most people who work on ballot access drives for all political parties and independents). The majority of these people are just in it for the money, they don’t really give a rat’s behind about any cause. There are too many Libertarian Party ballot access drives that turn into “mercenary feeding frenzies,” and in too many cases, quality is sacrificed in the name of non-libertarian mercenaries shoving as much money in their pockets as possible, and it appears that the same thing as happened on some of our Libertarian Party presidential campaigns.

  7. itdoesntmatter

    Nothing here seems that scandalous to me. I’m expecting Johnson’s to be much worse, I guess.

  8. Steven Wilson

    A few thoughts this Missouri election evening:

    1. I respect anyone who can support statements with empirical data. Data mining is key to building a rock solid bibliography. It is very difficult to sustain (my thesis paper took me two semesters).
    2. None of this really surprises me. Even libertarians should be well aware of the lack of discipline when spending OPM.
    3. I can’t see a way of this helping the LP. It makes the candidates look shady, but it makes the convention goers look like retarded sheep.

    Hats off to George. If there is one thing that we agree on it is transparency in politics. Good luck with the new book.

    Cheers.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    itdoesnmatter,

    Well, there are different forms of “scandalous.” Dishonesty and incompetence are both “scandalous” to a degree. My off-the-cuff take is that while both campaigns featured some of both problems, the Barr campaign was probably more incompetent than dishonest, while the Johnson campaign seemed to bury the speedometer at the high end on both.

  10. itdoesntmatter

    Knapp,
    I just mean that the big (non) revelation here is that the Barr campaign was not very frugal, but I don’t think that’s much of a surprise or that any of the numbers are that out of whack. He hired consultants and rented offices. He spent money on a website. It seems a bit much (but things are much better/cheaper in 2016 than 07/08, and that applies to other expected antiquated stuff, too) but we have guys running in 2016 who can’t even spend 10 bucks on a domain or take advantage of even free hosting/sites that look newer than 1996.

    We can always go with the guy who won’t use FRNs. Maybe the perfect candidate for some people would be an actual libertarian with a Robert Milnes lifestyle. While I don’t want to support any Republicans running as LP, I guess I don’t get that bent out of shape over guys who attempt to run a “professional” operation that is going to include some expenditures we can nitpick over. I wonder how many people here are still infatuated with Ron Paul and his machine of making money for all his cronies, family, their boyfriends, related anarchist think tanks that support increased police state powers, etc. I’m surprised that LR and the gang aren’t on Trump’s staff. Seems like the best real-life version of their early 1990s populist authoritarian political wetdreams. I read the other day that his manager, who roughed up Michelle Fields (former “libertarian” darling from her days of ReasonTV taking on Matt Damon, among other things), was a long-time “libertarian think tank” guy.

    I went OT. So, yeah, let’s get the candidates who won’t use dollars, only sleep on floors, etc. And when it comes to ballot drives and political operations, don’t get anyone proficient at the task, only have true believer pure Libertarian libertarians.

  11. Andy

    “I went OT. So, yeah, let’s get the candidates who won’t use dollars, only sleep on floors, etc. And when it comes to ballot drives and political operations, don’t get anyone proficient at the task, only have true believer pure Libertarian libertarians.”

    OK, whoever this person is who is posting under a fake name is either a troll, a person who does not know about which they are speaking, or they are a liar, or perhaps a combination of these two or three factors.

    LP ballot access history has shown over and over and over again that Libertarians do a better job on average than non-libertarian mercenaries. Look at Pennsylvania in 2012 (near failure that was only bailed out because the LP went way over budget for that drive paying for more than double the number of signatures needed, which was only necessary because the non-libertarian mercenaries had low validity), Maine in 2008 (failure), Maine last year (turned in a bunch of registrations at the last minute, even though they had a good 6 months to finish when they started, a bunch of registrations were also disqualified because they were not filled out properly), and Oklahoma 2012 (failure), to name just a few examples of how non-libertarian mercenaries are the ones who screw up jobs (and also do nothing to build the party, and sometimes even misrepresent the party to the public).

    Hey, if there is no importance in having Libertarians working on LP ballot access drives, then don’t have any Libertarians working at the national office, and for that matter, don’t have any actual libertarians as on any party committees, and don’t bother having any actual libertarians run as candidates either. Just stick any mercenary out there and let them get the job done.

    I would not be surprised if “itdoesntmatter” is posting under an IP anonymizer.

  12. Shane

    TK, please dude. Don’t make yourself look like a moron. Take a look at Trump’s FEC reports or just about any other candidate’s. Piecing together reality from those reports is damned near impossible because minimal descriptions don’t tell a story. If you had ever been involved in a campaign that raised a decent amount of money, you’d understand.

    GP, if you write libelous things because you don’t take the time to fact check, yes, there are consequences — that’s life, little guy. I put up with your crap years ago when you would pull stuff out of your ass even though I made myself available and regularly offered corrections for you — that were ignored. You intentionally refuse to communicate with the subjects of your writing in order to allow yourself to make these “mistakes” that always create some BS scandal (at least in your eyes). So if you are rock-solid in your reporting, then you have nothing to worry about, right?

    If you took just a portion of your time away from little man pursuits and “investigations” and applied that to doing positive things, you might get somewhere.

    The real scandal is the damage that Georgie tries to inflict on people who try to advance the party, and has done so for decades. No good deed goes unpunished in the eyes of Little George and for those who he has written about, they know first hand how he takes glee in twisting the truth to present the most negative view possible. What a waste of time by this guy.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    “If you had ever been involved in a campaign that raised a decent amount of money, you’d understand.”

    Shane, Shane, Shane … that’s your go-to way of doing things. Any time you think you’re under criticism, you just assert that the alleged critic has no experience of knowledge of the subject.

    I worked for the Badnarik campaign, which raised more than a million bucks. And somehow managed to not end up five figures in debt or to blow a bunch of money on air conditioners and limos or to stiff its campaign book ghost writer, and which paid its staff reasonable salaries so that money could be spent on actual campaigning.

    It’s sometimes difficult to figure out whether you genuinely don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about or are playing stupid for your own reasons.

  14. George Phillies

    ““If you had ever been involved in a campaign that raised a decent amount of money, you’d understand.””
    As it happens, I was Badnarik’s National Volunteer Coordinator. Of course, first Steve Gordon (to give credit where it was due) had to convince the folks running the campaign that a volunteer effort was worthwhile, so I only got the job at the start of September, but I was involved in his campaign.

  15. steve m

    Shane,

    Wasn’t that tirade just special. The only thing I learned from the four paragraphs was your capability to throw a tantrum like a three year old.

    If you disagree with how another has interpreted the evidence then take us through where and how the author is wrong.

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