Harper’s correspondent Ken Silverstein has more on Mitt Romney’s efforts to buy his way to the nomination, from the straw poll “ballot-box stuffing” supporters of struggling candidates gripe about, to contributions to South Carolina politicians via his personal PAC, to massive expenditures on consultants. Writes Silverstein:
[B]ased on filings with the Federal Election Commission, as of this summer, Romney’s campaign has employed more than a hundred different consultants, making combined payments to them of at least $11 million—roughly three times the amount spent by John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. …
Romney’s game plan in South Carolina depends on winning a large share of the social-conservative vote, which makes up at least a third, and perhaps even two fifths, of the state’s G.O.P. electorate. To that end, his PAC has also funded the Palmetto Family Council, which, according to its website, “works in the centers of influence (church, government, media, academia, and business) to present biblical principles through research, communication and networking.” Another $5,000 was delivered from Romney’s PAC to an organization sponsoring a statewide ballot initiative, passed in 2006, that added an amendment banning gay marriage to the state constitution. The PAC also sent money to South Carolina Citizens for Life ($500), South Carolina Club for Growth ($1,000), a school-choice group called South Carolinians for Responsible Government ($1,000), a Republican GOTV effort called South Carolina Victory ($2,000), and a group of conservative school-board candidates in Charleston ($2,000) called, humorously enough, “The A-Team.” (One pities the fool who might oppose them.) Moreover, the Romney campaign in June formed a national “faith and values steering committee” that includes four South Carolinians, among them a pastor, Mark White, and a Christian political activist, Dee Benedict. Both White and Benedict—whom Romney also put on the payroll as a consultant—are from upstate, the heart of South Carolina conservatism.
Among Romney’s consultants are well-known religious-right figures like Gary Marx, Jay Sekulow, and former Christian Coalition board member Drew McKissick.