Ed Driscoll


INTO THE BLUE AGAIN, AFTER THE MONEY’S GONE: “Dean paid $7.2 million to aide’s company”, the LA Times reports:

As Howard Dean’s presidential campaign tore through the millions it raised last year, nearly a quarter of it went to the company owned in part by his former campaign manager.

The campaign paid $7.2 million to Trippi, McMahon and Squier, the Virginia-based consulting and media firm – 23 percent of the $31 million it spent through Dec. 31, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks political spending.

Joe Trippi, one of the company’s partners, was Dean’s campaign manager for a year – until he was ousted last month and replaced by Roy Neel as chief executive. Dean asked Trippi to stay with the campaign as an adviser, but Trippi quit.

Instead of a salary, Trippi’s company had been paid a commission of the campaign’s television advertising buys – a percentage he and his company’s partners said he never knew.

“I didn’t want to know. I didn’t do this for the money,” Trippi said. “I was interested in beating [President] Bush. I was interested in building a campaign that could get Howard Dean in position. I’m proud of what I did. Anyone who knows me knows my personal money was never, ever on my mind, and it was nothing that motivated me.”

* * *
But Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College who is an expert in campaign spending, said the television spending was “extraordinary” because it was so much and so early.

“It’s certainly out of scale in what you see in other presidential campaigns in other election cycles,” he said.

Corrado also said that Trippi’s dual roles – as campaign manager and as a principal in the media company – “at least raises questions about conflicts.”

Trippi angrily dismissed such criticism.

“I had no conflict of interest because I wasn’t interested in money,” he said. “If I was doing it to get rich, I would have done a better job than this. I didn’t have control of the checkbook.”

If Trippi worked for Enron, the LA Times and their counterparts in Manhattan would be endlessly “flooding the zone” over this story, wouldn’t they?

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon has similar thoughts.