Lazy Saturday Reads: Follow the Money?

Portrait of two women, Diego Rivera

Portrait of two women, Diego Rivera

Good Afternoon!!

How is Donald Trump spending his campaign money? He raised about $80 million in July, but he isn’t running any TV ads and doesn’t seem to be spending much for on-the-ground organizing. At HuffPo, Bob Burnett calculates based on Open Secrets data that Trump has spent about $63 million of his cash on had in July. Where did those millions go? Burnett suggests three possibilities:

  1. Trump could be planning to “flood the airwaves” with ads just before the election.
  2. Trump may have used the money to repay a load he made to his campaign early on. He has claimed that he forgave the loan, but everyone knows Trump is a pathological liar.
  3. Perhaps the $63 million was transferred to the RNC to pay for GOTV operations. I’d say that’s pretty doubtful.

I’d suggest another possibility–that Trump has simply used the money to pay himself for flights on his private planes and helicopter and to rent space for rallies in his personal properties. Election law requires campaign to pay market rates for these services; but in Trump’s case, the law allows him to make a personal profit by campaigning for office. I guess we’ll find out what’s going on when the July FEC report comes out.

Auguste reading to her daughter, Mary Cassatt

Auguste reading to her daughter, Mary Cassatt

Quite a few observers are also wondering why Trump is campaigning in traditionally blue states like Maine and Connecticut while he’s falling far behind in the polls in battleground states and even red states like North Carolina.

CNN: Republicans question Trump’s travel choices, tight purse strings.

The last time Connecticut voted for a Republican presidential candidate, Americans were listening to music on cassette tapes and most cell phones were the size of shoe boxes.

Yet Donald Trump’s campaign spokesman insists they believe he has a chance to turn Connecticut red for the first time since 1988, and that’s why he is holding weekend rally there on Saturday.
Veteran Republicans, however, see Trump’s Fairfield, Connecticut, campaign stop [is] a fool’s errand — a prime example of what many worry is a political operation that takes Trump’s proclivity for defying convention a step too far.
And, it isn’t just Connecticut that has Republicans scratching their heads. Trump traveled to Maine last week, a state that has also been blue since 1992….
Concerned Republicans say their worries go beyond the campaign’s decision to send its greatest resource — the candidate himself — to chase one or two electoral votes in Maine, or to what they believe are unwinnable states like Connecticut. The other http://www.remotedba.com/consulting-services/ is that the database consulting has the needed money to finance television ads and ground operations — they just don’t appear to be spending it.

According to the article, Republicans are worried that even if Trump eventually begins running ads, it will be too late. They note that Obama’s early negative ads against Romney were successful in defining him, and now Trump is making the same mistake. In addition, Trump’s ground game is basically non-existent. From the CNN article:

“The campaign has yet to find or appoint key local leaders or open a campaign office in the county and isn’t yet sure which Hamilton County Republican party’s central committee members are allied with the Republican presidential nominee,” reported the Enquirer.
In other key states like Florida, where Trump, along with the RNC, does have staff, they are outnumbered by Democrats. The RNC says it has over 70 paid staffers and plans at least 20 offices statewide. Democrats already have 200 staffers and say they’re aiming for 100 offices in Florida.
A Page-Turner, Keith Larson

A Page-Turner, Keith Larson

Here’s Philip Bump at the WaPo: Cincinnati is the perfect demonstration of Donald Trump’s nonexistent campaign.

On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story that described the efforts of the Trump campaign in the critical county. Hamilton has declined as a percentage of the state’s population since 1990, but it is still home to 7 percent of Ohioans. So what’s Donald Trump doing there?

With the presidential election 90 days away, the Donald Trump campaign is scrambling to set up the basics of a campaign in Hamilton County, a key county in a swing state crucial to a Republican victory, a recent internal email obtained by The Enquirer shows.

The campaign has yet to find or appoint key local leaders or open a campaign office in the county and isn’t yet sure which Hamilton County Republican party’s central committee members are allied with the Republican presidential nominee. … Even campaign materials, such as signs and stickers, aren’t yet available.

What’s more, Trump hasn’t yet run a single general election ad in Hamilton County — or anywhere.

Last week, the Enquirer reported that Trump supporters, frustrated by the lack of infrastructure in their area, set up their own Trump headquarters in a small house. The campaign tried to spin this as a positive — such enthusiasm! — but it clearly isn’t.

Is it possible that the Trump campaign is nothing but a massive grifting operation to help Trump make money and perhaps to help him get another reality show?

Art and Literature, Loren Entz

Art and Literature, Loren Entz

Yesterday Trump claimed that if he doesn’t win Pennsylvania, where he trails by 11 points in the latest poll, it will be because Hillary Clinton somehow cheated. Again from Philip Bump: Trump says he will only lose Pennsylvania if there’s widespread voter fraud. That’s very wrong.

CBS’s Sopan Deb transcribed Trump’s comments.

We’re gonna watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times. … The only way we can lose, in my opinion — and I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on. I really believe it. Because I looked at Erie and it was the same thing as this. …

[L]et me just tell you, I looked over Pennsylvania. And I’m studying it. And we have some great people here. Some great leaders here of the Republican Party, and they’re very concerned about that. And that’s the way we can lose the state. And we have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching. Because if we get cheated out of this election, if we get cheated out of a win in Pennsylvania, which is such a vital state, especially when I know what’s happening here, folks. I know. She can’t beat what’s happening here.

The only way they can beat it in my opinion — and I mean this 100 percent — if in certain sections of the state they cheat, OK? So I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine, because without voter identification — which is shocking, shocking that you don’t have it.

There is almost no actual in-person voter fraud. In a survey of 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014, 241 possible — possible! — fraudulent ballots were found. Several of those ballots were cast in elections in Pennsylvania where a man named “Joseph Cheeseboro” and another named “Joseph J. Cheeseborough” each cast a ballot. That’s all that was uncovered in Pennsylvania.

The “certain sections of the state” to which Trump is referring is almost certainly are a reference to a long-standing conspiracy theory involving the results in Philadelphia in 2012, where, in some places Mitt Romney got zero votes. Trump ally Sean Hannity raised it during a dispute with CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Mother reading with two girls, Lee Lufkin Kaula

Mother reading with two girls, Lee Lufkin Kaula

It’s all about racism, folks; but no one in the public sphere seems to want to admit it. Check this out at the WaPo: A massive new study debunks a widespread theory for Donald Trump’s success.

Economic distress and anxiety across working-class white America have become a widely discussed explanation for the success of Donald Trump. It seems to make sense. Trump’s most fervent supporters tend to be white men without college degrees. This same group has suffered economically in our increasingly globalized world, as machines have replaced workers in factories and labor has shifted overseas. Trump has promised to curtail trade and other perceived threats to American workers, including immigrants.

Yet a major new analysis from Gallup, based on 87,000 interviews the polling company conducted over the past year, suggests this narrative is not complete. While there does seem to be a relationship between economic anxiety and Trump’s appeal, the straightforward connection that many observers have assumed does not appear in the data.

According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.

Please go read the entire article, and you’ll find that in this “massive study” Gallup did not even consider racism as an explanation for Trump support!

While Trump is swift-boating himself and the media is busily covering his self-destruction, Hillary Clinton is quietly going about her business–campaigning in swing states, advertising during the Olympics, and building her GOTV operation–as the media tries desperately to fan the flames of some “scandal” or other in hopes of bringing her down.

Girl reading, George Cochran Lambdin

Girl reading, George Cochran Lambdin

The obsession with Hillary’s emails is going nowhere except with media Hillary haters and right wing nuts. ABC News reports: Emails Do Not Show Improper Influence From Clinton Foundation, State Department Says.

The State Department said today that there was nothing inappropriate in the communications that Hillary Clinton‘s staff had with the Clinton Foundation when she was secretary of state, recently exposed in new emails released by the conservative group Judicial Watch,

“The State Department is not aware of any actions that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation,” State Department Spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said during today’s daily press briefing.

That comment comes after the release of two new emails sent by Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band, raising concerns about the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton family’s philanthropic organization, the Clinton Foundation. In one email, Band requested a meeting between a wealthy donor and an ambassador, and in another he asked Clinton’s aides to find a job for an associated, whose name was redacted from the email.

Donald Trump has described the emails as “pay for play,” without producing any evidence of an exchange of money or political favors.

“The Department does not believe it was inappropriate for Mr. Band or any other individual to recommend someone be considered for employment at the State Department,” Trudeau said today. “We also do not believe it’s inappropriate for someone recommended in this manner to be potentially hired insofar as they meet the necessary qualifications for the job.”

The Clinton campaign said on Wednesday that this person was not a donor nor a Clinton Foundation employee, but refused to release his or her identity. Trudeau added that even if this person had been a Foundation employee or a donor, it would not have precluded the individual from being hired at the State Department.

Woman reading, Jon Urban

Woman reading, Jon Urban

The media will surely try to “trump”-up this story from CNN: Bill Clinton talks email controversy: ‘Biggest load of bull.’

The questioner identified himself as a Democrat who loved Clinton as president and is supporting his wife, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 election. But, he wanted to know: Why should Americans trust the Democratic nominee when she lied about her emails?
“Wait a minute,” Bill Clinton said. “It’s not true.”
And so began the ex-president’s unexpected fiery defense of one of the biggest controversies dogging Hillary Clinton’s White House bid.
“First of all, the FBI director said when he testified before Congress, he had to amend his previous day’s statement that she had never received any emails that are classified. They saw two little notes with a ‘C’ on it,” Clinton said. “This is the biggest load of bull I’ve ever heard.”
Clinton went on to say that while the classification system of sensitive emails was “too complicated to explain to people,” what is clear is that Clinton and her colleagues were never being careless with national security.
“Do you really believe there are 300 career diplomats because that’s how many people were on these emails, all of whom were careless with national security? Do you believe that?” he said. “Forget about Hillary, forget about her. Is that conceivable?”
Clinton pointed to the number of prominent Republican leaders — particularly those in the national security arena — who have endorsed Clinton in recent weeks, as a sign that she is the only person fit to run the country.
“There are people who spent their lifetimes advancing national security who believe she’s the only person that you can trust,” Clinton said.

I say good for Bill and good luck to the media in trying to make this a “scandal” over the weekend.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a great Saturday!

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