(Chuck Muth) – On Saturday morning I received yet another of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sam Brown’s incessant “Me! Me! Me!” email fundraising pitches. The subject line was…
“It’s not looking good.”
What he was writing about was his silly “competition” to see whether he or his wife can raise more money for his campaign during the month of August.
Sam bemoaned the fact that his wife is supposedly “in the lead” – though I have serious doubts this is a real contest. It’s more likely just a fundraising gimmick by one of his consultants.
That aside, a new CNN report hit the wires around the same time and, uh, “It’s not looking good.” Per the report…
“Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sam Brown created a political action committee to ‘help elect Republicans’ but most of its funds were spent paying down debt from his failed previous campaign. The group donated less than 7% of its funds to the candidates it was set up to support, according to campaign finance records – a move one campaign finance expert likened to using the PAC as a ‘slush fund.’”
Brown’s “Duty First PAC” was created in July 2022, after he lost his rather timid GOP primary race against Adam Laxalt, which left his campaign some $300,000 in debt.
According to the report, based on FEC records, the PAC raised just $91,500 for the general election – mostly from small-dollar donors who contributed $50 or less – but used $55,000 of it “to repay debt from Brown’s failed campaign for Senate.”
In its defense, Brown’s campaign says the PAC “promised to support conservative candidates in Nevada, and it did exactly that by donating to every Republican candidate in Nevada’s federal races.”
That would be Laxalt in the Senate general election and the GOP nominees for Nevada’s four congressional districts. But there’s an error of omission in Brown’s defense.
Unless I miss my guess, PACs such as Brown’s are allowed to donate up to $5,000 per candidate. That means he could have maxed out his supporters’ donations to the tune of $25,000. Instead, “just $6,000 made its way to five Nevada Republican candidates’ committees.”
Where’d the rest of the money go?
“A combined $23,000 was spent on website and software services used by Brown’s Senate campaign,” the report reports. “Another $11,275 went towards paying down the failed campaign’s credit card, with an additional $3,000 spent on credit card interest fees.”
In addition, the PAC “is also responsible for eventually repaying Brown $70,000 that he personally loaned his committees.”
The PAC promised its unsuspecting donors that their money would be used to help “defeat the socialist Democrats” and “ensure that the socialist agenda of the Democrats does not win in November.”
They were never told their money would be used for a “Brown Bailout.”
“It creates a situation where contributors to a PAC may think that PAC is doing one thing,” noted Stephen Spaulding, a former FEC adviser, “which is supporting political candidates, when in fact what it’s doing is being used to pay off long standing debts from a previous campaign.”
In response to the report’s revelations, Dr. Jeff Gunter – who entered the GOP primary race challenging Brown last week – issued a blistering statement…
“This report is particularly disturbing because small dollar donors are often fixed-income seniors trying to contribute what they can from their monthly allowance while Sam Brown – who is now looking more like ‘Scam’ Brown – is busy pocketing it and paying off debt…”
Sadly, it appears the only lesson Brown has learned from his two previous electoral losses is “The Art of the Shakedown.” He’s clearly still not ready for prime time.
Nevertheless, the DC GOP establishment – led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – has already anointed Brown as its Republican nominee in Nevada’s 2024 U.S. Senate race.
And with that backing, Brown says he raised over $400,000 in his first week after announcing his second run at the Golden Snitch last month. But that could well end up being a high-water mark, especially after this report on his “scam PAC” becomes common knowledge.
A few short weeks ago I would have said the Brown nomination for this race was a “done deal.” I’m not so sure any longer.
Brown has stumbled out of the gate this time around. And while he still enjoys his share of supporters, that support isn’t as deep as it was his first time around when he was a novelty. And he certainly hasn’t cleared the field.
What he has going for him right now is the fact that eight GOP candidates have already announced for this race, with none of the challengers, so far, distinguishing themselves from the field as the designated Brown alternative the way Brown was perceived as the Laxalt alternative last year.
As such, the nomination could well be secured with less than a third of the vote.
And with that, it’s only a matter of time before that juggernaut of perennial candidates – Eddie “Insert Goofy Nickname Here” Hamilton, who’s never met a race he couldn’t lose – jumps into the fray and causes a seismic disturbance in The Force.
(Oops, sorry. One of my psychedelic mushrooms must have kicked in.)
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Our bumper stickers have been a fan favorite so before they sell out, we wanted to make sure you had your official Sam Brown bumper sticker to show your support for Sam’s Senate race! Donate $25 or more towards Sam’s race and we’ll make sure to send you a one of a kind sticker! Hurry! They’re going fast.” – Sam Brown, 8/9/23 (I guess we’re supposed to believe it’s not possible to re-order more bumper stickers once they’re gone)
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.