Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Transparency and Thrift of the Ron Paul Campaign

Kim Barker reports:
[Ron Paul's]campaign's hyper-vigilance is notable, verging on fanatical.

Every bank fee, every 22 cents at a FedEx, every $1 toll on the Florida turnpike, every $5.09 pit stop at any Starbucks anywhere, every doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts and Dough Nutz -- it's all right there, itemized in the Paul campaign's copious expenditure reports. In 160 instances so far, the campaign has reported purchases costing a single dollar or less.

Last week, ProPublica examined the spending of the five presidential candidates and the major super PACs, identifying their 200 top payees.  But as part of digging into the more than $306 million spent through February, it was impossible to avoid the other end of the spectrum: The small bucks, if you will.

The Paul campaign tracks every cent like no other, which Paul campaign officials say is deliberate.

"We take the trust our donors place in us very seriously and are deeply committed to transparency and accuracy in our reporting," wrote Paul's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, in an email response to ProPublica.

Deeply, indeed.

Under Federal Election Commission rules, campaigns only have to disclose expenditures of more than $200 per election cycle to an individual or a vendor. And, for most campaigns, that's mostly how it works. Sure, there's the odd $1 rental car expense for Mitt Romney's campaign, a few $5 bank fees for Newt Gingrich, and the inexplicable one-cent expense reported by Rick Santorum to the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, Iowa. But generally, they don’t sweat the small stuff....

Paul’s expenditures show what it’s like to run for president and life on the trail.  It’s a journey through gas stations and fast-food joints in towns like Romeoville, Ill., Sugar Land, Texas, and Correctionville, Iowa. There’s a kind of poetry to the purchases, which range from the austere ($59.50 for meals at the Puritan Backroom), to the whimsical ($28.43 for a meal at The Peddler’s Daughter) to the downright depressing ($26.72 for catering from Little Caesars pizza in Colorado on New Year’s Day).

Like Paul himself, the campaign staffers often seem to value thrift. On Oct. 18, for instance, someone spent $1.09 for office equipment at the Dollar Tree in Baton Rouge. Eight days later, someone else spent $1 at a Salvation Army on Sheep Davis Road in New Hampshire for event supplies.

Staffers often ate cheap, spending $1.39 for a meal at the Circle K in El Dorado, Kan., on Sept. 27, $1.27 at the Kwik Star in Charles City, Iowa, on Dec. 9, and 99 cents at the Conoco in Moses Lake, Wash., on Feb. 20. Well, maybe they weren’t meals.

“We actually don’t have any food here,” said Chris Chase, the manager of that Conoco, who didn’t recall anyone from the Paul campaign and actually had never heard of the Paul campaign. “We’ve got some candies. Suckers are under $1. We’ve got some protein bars for 99 cents, some Planters peanuts for 59 cents.”


  1. The only man who can truly balance the federal budget.

  2. The most honest man in Congress and the only true fiscal conservative running, as proven by his campaign finances.