Ben Carson Raised the Most. But How'd He Spend It?

More went to fundraising, consultants than mass media advertising
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 5, 2016 7:00 AM CST
Ben Carson Raised the Most. But How'd He Spend It?
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, March 4, 2016, in National Harbor, Md.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Ben Carson ran for president, and his consultants won. The political newcomer, who said Friday that he was ending his bid for the White House, raised $58 million, more money than any other GOP contender raised. (Time notes Ted Cruz is No. 2 in terms of direct fundraising.) But an AP review of his campaign finance filings show Carson's campaign burned through the millions he raised by spending more on fundraising and consultants than on mass media advertising, on-the-ground employees, and other things that could have swayed voters. Over the past week, the candidate himself has wondered aloud whether his campaign aides took advantage of him, even saying he was disappointed in himself for trusting some people around him "without really vetting them carefully."

All told, the Carson campaign turned over at least one-quarter of the money it raised—$16 million—to fundraising and marketing firms owned by a pair of his top consultants, Mike Murray and Ken Dawson. By contrast, the Carson campaign campaign spent less than $600,000 on television and radio advertising during the month that voting has taken place, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group. But payments to TMA Direct, which Murray owns, and other firms did not all go into the consultants' pockets, Murray counters. Much of it paid for postage, printing, and other costs associated with fundraising. Dawson also says much of the $10 million paid to his company went right back out to pay for digital advertising and social media promotion. The AP has more on Carson's spending here. (More Ben Carson 2016 stories.)

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