It is not the surest indicator of how a candidate would behave if he or she ascended to the Oval Office, but taking a look at how a candidate handles their sizeable campaign war-chest can serve as a pretty good indicator of how they will serve as stewards of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Whether we like it or not, modern campaigns no longer center on humble speeches and simple pins. Campaigns require big money and, despite what Democrats like to pretend, this is a fact for both Democrats and Republicans.
As the campaign war-chests are filled with donations of hard-earned money, thoughtful stewardship of this money is required and, unsurprisingly, when a candidate blows-through this money with reckless disregard for penny-pinching, it tends to upset those who broke out the ol’ checkbook in the first place.
According to reports, donors who opted to fund Jeb Bush’s disastrous 2016 presidential bid are a bit irked by his high-roller lifestyle furnished by campaign donations.
According to the FCC filings of Bush’s campaign and his super PAC, Right to Rise, Bush and his people regularly stay at boutique hotels, fly in private jets and host posh parties which incur significant costs that chip-into whatever funds they might raise throughout the evening. While it would not do to crash at Motel 6s and host fundraising events with PBR and cut-up hot dogs with toothpicks as appetizers, one cannot help but notice the difference in financial stewardship between the long-shot Bush and Ted Cruz, who is coming in at an incredibly-close second place as we head into Iowa.
Eleven of 16 major donors contacted by Reuters questioned whether it was money well spent, especially given how the one-time front-runner has stumbled badly in the polls and is now facing questions about whether he should withdraw from the race.
In contrast to Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz, who is running second in national polls of Republican voters, favors cheaper accommodation options like Holiday Inn and often flies on budget carriers, campaign finance filings through the third quarter show.
Several members of the Bush camp vigorously rejected the donor critiques. Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said, “We are running a national campaign that is competing everywhere and we have made investments that have allowed us to do what serious campaigns must do to be competitive in the primary and general elections.”
Ad-tracking firm SMG Delta says Bush’s campaign and Right to Rise have spent $82 million on ads, significantly more than the three leading candidates in the Republican race: Donald Trump ($5 million), Cruz ($11 million) and Sen. Marco Rubio ($49 million). The tracking firm’s data is more up to date than what has been reported so far in the federal filings.
Perhaps donors can be a bit forgiving about the elitist candidate furnishing expensive hotels and jets- after all, they might assume, a presidential candidate should not appear cheap.
What is likely more-galling, however, is the fact that Bush spend so much of their money while he regularly polls in the low-single-digits as he spends tens-of-millions of dollars more than his competitors who are easily besting him.
I have to ask: Is Bush caught-up in a “Brewster’s Millions”-type challenge to spend the most money possible with the least amount gained? It seems that way.
On Sunday, donors will learn just how much Bush has spent from his $100 million-plus warchest. That’s when Republican and Democratic candidates and their super PACs release their latest campaign finance reports. What is known so far is that Bush and Right to Rise spent at least $82 million, both in operating expenditures through the third quarter of 2015 and on ad spending through this month.
The campaign finance reports also show that between June 2015, when Bush formally announced his candidacy, and September, the Bush campaign spent $1.2 million on private planes versus the roughly $700,000 spent during the same period by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Cruz spent $158,000 on private planes, and Rubio $293,300. Trump flies around the country in his own Boeing 757.
Though being a bit of a diva comes with the territory of presidential elections, it seems clear that some just flatly refuse to rein-in the spending.
Donald Trump, it should be noted, spends lavishly. However, he mainly spends his own money on luxuries, so the issue is none of a public concern and should really serve as an issue between him and his accountants.
There is much to dislike about Bush and his campaign. Aside from being about as exciting as unflavored rice cakes, the candidate has flailed with his messaging, is yet another member of the Bush dynasty in a year dominated by anti-establishment candidates, is about as moderate as a Republican can get without calling himself a Democrat and, evidently, sees no issue with lavishly spending money that was entrusted to him to use wisely- a trait which should tell us all a bit about how a President Jeb Bush would regard the money citizens entrust to the government each year in taxes.