The Washington Post

$200,000 went missing from Huntsman’s campaign

Ben Smith has a blockbuster report that suggests former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was ripped off. Not only was he persuaded to enter a fruitless trek for the nomination and pay advisers lavishly, but it seems someone helped himself to extra funds:

The Utah political action committee formed to launch Jon Huntsman’s bid for president made more than $200,000 in payments to a phantom company, one of Huntsman’s consultants told BuzzFeed Thursday.

Utah financial disclosure reports for Horizon PAC show three payments totalling $205,000 between February and April of last year to a company called “For Bahm Marketing LLC,” which does not exist in the comprehensive record of American companies maintained by the service LexisNexis.

The records also show a single $20,000 payment to the similarly-named “Bahm Marketing LLC,” a New York City political consulting firm. But Bahm Marketing’s owner, Steve Goldberg, said he had been surprised to see the payments to the other entity.

In a slightly buried lede Smith tells us: “Huntsman’s main consultant, John Weaver, said in an e-mail that Goldberg was ‘mistaken’ in thinking his firm hadn’t received the money. The payment related, Weaver said in the brief email, to Goldberg’s ‘expertise in modeling/profile creation.’” Huh? Weaver would have us believe that Goldberg didn’t know he got another $200,000? That seems like a preposterous explanation.

There were many conservative commentators, including Right Turn, that criticized Weaver for in essence conning a vain candidate with a rich dad into launching a campaign that in the end would benefit only the consultants. (“Outsiders viewed the campaign as an ill-advised boondoggle for the consultants. ‘BREAKING IN 2015: John Weaver to con another rich guy into wasting millions of dollars running a losing campaign,’ Commentary editor John Podhoretz joked on Twitter.”)

But Smith’s report is the first indication we have that there was more going on than just the usual consultant self-promotion. Given the acrimony on the campaign and number of staffers who bailed or were forced out, I suspect there will be plenty of people willing to talk — if nothing else than to make perfectly clear they had nothing to do with the missing money.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m.): In an update Ben Smith connects the dots: The money went to John Weaver. Funny didn’t he claim Goldberg had the money and didn’t know it?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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