Political Draft Committee Raises Millions

There are either a lot of people or a few very rich people who really, really want Ben Carson to run for president. A committee to draft him to run for president, the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, has raised more than $2 million despite having no association with him and his repeated insistence that he has no interest in running.

The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee raised $2.4 million over the past three months, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, outpacing far more prominent rivals. Carson, a 62-year-old retired neurosurgeon and political commentator, has never run for elected office. And there are few signs the fundraising boomlet has changed his mind. Running for office “has never been something that I have a desire to do,” Carson told TIME last month. The draft committee has no affiliation with the prospective candidate himself.

So how is a political neophyte with little campaign infrastructure, scant interest in the presidency and no real chance of winning helping raise all that cash?

As Michael Scherer and I explained in a feature story last month, Carson’s acolytes have tapped into the lucrative world of conservative direct marketing. His money-making machine has followed a well-honed formula: renting and expanding email lists, beseeching supporters for cash through email and the postal service, and then reinvesting big chunks of the proceeds in ever more appeals to activists. Once it cranks into gear, the machine is tough to stop. And its methods can be successful whether or not the cause is viable.

The hub of Carson’s fundraising drive is in an office park in northern Virginia, where the direct-mail wizard Bruce Eberle oversees a constellation of companies that raise money for clients. Eberle, an old lion of the conservative marketing world, has had decades of success connecting GOP activists and causes. It has sent more than two million pieces of mail on behalf of Carson, Tammy Cali, the president of Eberle Associates, told TIME last month. The response has exceeded anybody’s expectations.

They think they’re going to raise more than $8 million eventually. Not for a Political Action Committee for his campaign, just for a committee to convince him to run. And I hope he does. One more in the clown car.

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  • raven

    This was the poster person for an article on, how much of the money rightwing nuts donate is just siphoned off by moochers, takers, and scammers. AKA political operatives, campaign managers, and consultants.

    Not that I and millions of others think this is a problem. By all means, buy those yachts, private jets, mansions, jewelry, and whatever. It’s a far better use of that money than trying to elect a vaguely humanoid toad like Sarah Palin or a Reptiloid like Romney.

    Hopefully, this is an inevitable byproduct of the party of “I’ve got mine, fuck you”, “Greed is God”, and “Go ahead, die in the streets, but do it quietly”.

  • zippythepinhead

    Dr. Carson was actually a very accomplished neurosurgeon, being the only surgeon to remove his own brain. Afterwards he became a Republican.

  • dogmeat

    This is an example of discretionary wealth being used to fund campaigns/candidates who advocate policies that will enhance their discretionary wealth.

  • doublereed

    So this is just a just a straight-forward scam right?

  • raven

    So this is just a just a straight-forward scam right?

    Hard to say.

    They might really believe in Ben Carson and his message and chances. This is after all, the anti-reality based party that can believe 6 false things before breakfast.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    A committee to draft him to run for president …

    The GOP must be having a lot of trouble finding good candidates to run.

  • cptdoom

    So this is just a just a straight-forward scam right?

    Sure looks like it – from the Reuters reporting on the issue:

    Though the Draft Ben Carson committee has raised $3.9 million since it was set up last year, it has spent money just as steadily. At the end of March, the committee had $228,000 in the bank and carried $515,000 in debt, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/17/us-usa-campaign-carson-idUSBREA3G2EH20140417

  • grumpyoldfart

    …and then reinvesting big chunks of the proceeds in ever more appeals to activists…

    With maybe even bigger chunks going straight to the committee members. Don’t just look in the wages book; look for things like bonus payments, success fees, interest free loans, forgiven loans, reimbursements for transport and travel costs, etcetera. All strictly legal of course, but nice little earners for someone who knows the ropes.

  • Artor

    Yes please. One more unhinged lunatic to show what the Republicans of today stand for is a good thing. Go Carson!

  • scienceavenger

    The GOP must be having a lot of trouble finding good black candidates to run.

    FTFY. With Herman Cain on the Fox money train, they need a replacement token illustration of how diverse they are. I think it’s great. Let’s have Michael Egnor as his running mate, Neuroloonies 2016!