Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign turned out to be a spectacular flop, but that doesn’t mean everyone walked home empty handed.
Campaign consultants, ad buyers, fundraisers, airlines, hotels and catering companies all took a bite — some larger than others — of the $16 million that Perry forked over to the body politic between Aug. 15 and Dec. 31.
Over those 138 days, the Perry campaign spent an average of $116,000 a day, with payments ranging as low as 25 cents for a city of Austin parking meter on Sept. 5 to an $856,777.85 payment for TV ad placements on Nov. 10. Uncle Sam got a piece, too: The Internal Revenue Service was paid $407,000 in payroll taxes through the end of the year.
The largest single chunk of dough went to Paint Creek Media. According to Perry campaign officials, that’s the company set up by Virginia-based media placement consultants Mike Dubke and Patti Heck, who run Crossroads Media in Alexandria, Va., to handle Perry’s TV ad buys.
Paint Creek Media billed the campaign for $5.4 million over the period, representing about a third of the total expenditures, which is not surprising because TV advertising costs tend to dwarf other expenses.
The computer company 2012 Election Digital LLC, run by the same people who had provided web services to GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (under another company name), was paid nearly $600,000 to build and maintain Perry’s website.
Closer to home, Austin-based political consultant Ted Delisi, under the firm name Flintrock Consulting, billed the Perry campaign $539,000 for compiling and mailing brochures and ads.
Longtime media strategist David Weeks, who has been Perry’s TV ad man since his first statewide race in 1990, was paid $177,000 for ad production. Austin-based pollster Mike Baselice got $266,000 for survey research, records show.
Without knowing contractual details, it’s impossible to say how much all the consultants took home and how much went to defray their labor and material costs. The campaign has said monthly salaries were to be capped at $10,000 during the primary.
Perry announced for president on Aug. 13 and quickly rocketed to the top of the polls, so his campaign seemed like a much safer bet, and a much bigger business opportunity, than the sinking ship it soon became.
Longtime Perry speechwriter Eric Bearse, who put his private consulting business on hold to work for the presidential campaign, said many of the former aides who returned to work for Perry knew they going to “have to take a haircut.”
Bearse was paid $33,000 as a senior adviser over the period. After taking a short breather, he’s back in the private consulting business. All told, the payroll costs amounted to $1.2 million.
“We did it for the cause and because we believe in Rick Perry,” Bearse said. “Given the choice to do it all over again, we’d do it all over again.”
Perry began largely with the same team that had brought him to victory in his past runs for governor. But with his political fortunes declining in late October, he dipped into the coffers to hire several new, prominent consultants.
Joe Allbaugh, who managed George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, ran the day-to-day operations of the campaign and was paid $36,000 in November and December.
Records show media consultant Nelson Warfield’s company was paid $31,000 for the period; GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio’s company, Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates, got $103,000. Media strategist Curt Anderson, a partner in On Message Inc., billed the campaign $67,000, and ad man Jim Innocenzi’s firm, Sandler-Innocenzi, was paid $68,000.
Longtime Perry consultant Dave Carney butted heads with Allbaugh and was eventually pushed out of his role as top strategist for the campaign. But Carney still got paid through at least Dec. 28. His company, New Hampshire-based Norway Hill, was paid $72,000 and was owed another $43,000 at the end of the reporting period, records show.
Perry’s gubernatorial campaign paid Carney $232,000 in 2011, and a little more than half that came after the governor formed his presidential campaign in August. Carney did not respond to requests for comment about the billings.
All told, consultants and researchers billed the presidential campaign $1.8 million.
As of Dec. 31, Perry had $3.7 million in cash, but much of that has already been spent. Perry, who came in fifth in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and sixth in the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, pulled the plug on his campaign on Jan. 19, two days before the South Carolina primary.
The January spending will be reflected in the next report, which is due in April.