What’s the biggest difference between Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Gary Johnson? It’s not ideological, although there are some key and important distinctions on their positions.
The biggest difference is money. How much they have and how they’ve spent it.
For Gary Johnson, his whole campaign has been a shoestring affair. Having raised only several hundred thousand dollars in pursuit of the Presidency, he’s spending the limited funds he has on travel and critical campaign operations. Calling the Johnson campaign “budget conscious” would be an accurate descriptor. They know their resources are tight, the money they have raised has not come easily and they seem legitimately dedicated to stretching their campaign-dollar to the maximum.
The same cannot be said for Ron Paul’s latest bid for the Republican nomination or the myriad organizations he and his family members have spawned to fleece the “true believers” of their every last dime. People don’t just support Ron Paul, many are personally obsessed with the man. They give and give, and then give some more. In fact, it often seems like Ron Paul’s role model is less Barry Goldwater than something closer to L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction author and founder of the cult-like cash-cow known as Scientology.
It would be one thing if the Paul campaign spent their money as wisely as the Johnson campaign. There’s no telling how much could have been accomplished with the tens of millions of dollars that the Ron Paul machine has generated over the last half-decade. Unfortunately, we will never know what might have been.
Recently we learned that Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s bumbling campaign manager and grandson-in-law, had been paid a staggering $586,616 by the Paul campaign and associated organizations. That number has likely grown by, at least, tens of thousands of dollars since it was first reported. Gary Johnson could have financed his entire campaign thus far on Benton’s salary alone!
The problem goes beyond just Benton, who recently enraged Paul supporters when he put out a series of statements to the public that explained a shift in campaign strategy away from active campaigning in upcoming primaries. He explained this was a way to conserve campaign resources. The press interpreted this as Paul suspending his campaign and the announcement likely cost Paul a significant number of delegates in the Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas primaries. It also signaled a desire to preserve relations with the Romney campaign and the GOP establishment, likely with the hopes of protecting the future career of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Some of the Paul diehards have suggested that Benton “acted alone” in making these campaign policy shifts and in setting his own salary, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is Ron Paul’s standard operating procedure: his family gets paid, every time.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has noted that Representative Paul was one of the worst offenders in the U.S. House for using campaign and PAC money to enrich family members. In CREW’s recent survey of 2008 and 2010 spending by Congressional candidates, they noted: “Rep. Paul’s campaign committee, Committee to Re-elect Ron Paul, paid salaries to his
daughter, his grandson, his daughter’s mother-in-law, his granddaughter, his grandson-in-law, and another relative. In addition, his campaign committee reimbursed the congressman and several other relatives and paid his brother’s accounting firm. Finally, Rep. Paul’s leadership political action committee (PAC), Liberty PAC, reimbursed the congressman, paid his brother’s accounting firm, and paid his daughter a salary.”
Considering the way that the Ron Paul political machine has generated so much of its millions of dollars from small donors over the last half-decade, many of whom could hardly afford to give to a political campaign, it is shocking that this is how much of the money was apparently being spent. Many of the footsoldiers of the liberty movement have dedicated so much of their lives to supporting this one man, it’s reached such an unhealthy degree that they can no longer see the greater cause they are supposedly fighting for.
There is now a Libertarian governor with a resume far more impressive than that of Congressman Paul, standing up and reaching his hand out to them. And yet they largely ignore this amazing opportunity, fixated on a sad old man who has mesmerized them into attempting to etch his likeness onto everything from chocolate bars to a pub in New York City to discussion of building a statue of the man himself.
Described by some as one of the “biggest purveyors of nepotism in U.S. history,” the failure of Ron Paul to even consider passing the torch to Gary Johnson shows that he is now entirely focused on building his family’s political dynasty, and perhaps even trying to find a spot for his son Rand on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. Ron Paul’s supporters aren’t just promoting the message of liberty, they are worshiping a man who deserves very little of their praise.
Contrast this gross abuse of donor trust with how the Johnson campaign operates. Gary Johnson’s adult son, Erik Johnson, has been working day and night on the governor’s campaign and is getting paid no salary to do so. The governor even got a little choked up when he acknowledged his son’s sacrifice in a touching moment during his acceptance speech at the Libertarian Convention last month.
Gary Johnson is an avid skier, adventurer, and bicyclist. He has reached the highest peaks on four of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest. He’s built a successful private sector business, and been elected the chief executive of a large state for two highly productive terms, during which he vetoed more bills than the governors of the other 49 states combined. His libertarian credentials are unmatched, and yet today Rand Paul endorsed Mitt Romney for President. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about the Paul clan’s priorities.