Ben Carson isn’t done wandering around the country taking people’s money

Ben Carson isn’t going to be president. Ben Carson isn’t going to win the Republican nomination. Ben Carson isn’t going to win any of the Republican primaries.

Ben Carson isn’t going to quit.

In an op-ed published on Fox News today, Carson wrote that while many people have told him to end his bid for president, and regardless as to what the “polls” say, he’s going to soldier on. As he wrote:

Ben Carson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ben Carson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Unfortunately, these pundits have gotten too lost in the gladiatorial spectacle to see what truly matters: the will of “We the People” of America.

With every call to drop out, pundits and political operatives salivate over polling percentages — as though the people they represent were commodities to be bought and bartered in the backrooms of D.C.’s exclusive political clubs. This mentality is driving voters away from the political system they have so long supported.

It is a fundamentally undemocratic response to insinuate that people should be stripped of their choice “for the good of the party.” That’s why I’ve vowed to continue our campaign as long as we have revenue and support, until the people have decided.

That last part I quoted is actually the closest Carson comes to making a good point. Campaigns usually don’t end when they run out of voters; they usually end when they run out of money. Apparently, Carson’s campaign still has some.

But in the context of Ben Carson and his political organization, concerns over revenue mean something slightly different. That’s because, as multiple outlets have noted, Carson’s campaign looks less like an operation aimed at winning the Republican nomination and more like a direct mail fundraising scam. As Gawker reported earlier this year, in the last three months of 2015 Carson’s campaign “paid over $9 million to companies owned by its staffers.”

It was the continuation of a pattern. Since its inception, his campaign has boasted a notoriously high burn rate, with most of the money it raised being funneled straight back into fundraising costs — most of which were paid to consulting firms controlled by people who, guess what, served as advisors to Carson’s campaign. Carson himself took a few weeks off from campaigning last year — when he was at his highest in the polls — in order to promote his latest book. Not coincidentally, at least two of the consulting firms listed on Carson’s FEC disclosure forms specialize in book promotion.

Carson’s also done little by way of earning media coverage in recent months, suggesting that he isn’t exactly gunning hard to win the votes of people who aren’t already sending him money. In fact, the only times we hear from him anymore are during debates, where he serves as comic relief more than anything else.

At this point, it’s hard to tell whether Carson’s in on the act, or if he’s being taken for a ride by the consultants invested in his campaign. Either way, it looks like Carson is planning on wandering around the United States and taking people’s money for a while longer.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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