Back in mid-August, Carly Fiorina announced the formation of her exploratory committee, Carly for California, as a prelude to announcing her formal candidacy for United States Senate. FEC rules require that if a candidate receives or spends $5000.00, the candidate must begin formal filings with the FEC as a candidate. Given Fiorina's hire of big-money consultants like Hollywood-based Fred Davis, you'd think Carly for California would have burned through that limit in about twenty minutes. Certainly it's amazing she's let nearly a month lapse without an announcement. Heck, she's not even on the list for a single appearance, guest suite, or conversation at the forthcoming California Republican Party convention on September 25th through 27th.
What gives? Why the silence?
The probable answer is that Carly Fiorina is finding it impossible to put together a campaign team. Let me explain.
DC hands know the firm of Dresner, Wickers and Associates, which describes itself as "the go–to political consulting firm for Republican candidates, ballot initiatives, and major trade organizations." Among other things, their list of clients includes one Vladimir Putin. I won't speculate on why Carly chose to engage Dresner, Wickers, except that her HP-era ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran might have made Putin's DC factotums an easy fit. Okay, that's unfair, but low-hanging fruit and all....
Anyway, for the past several weeks, Bob Wickers of Dresner, Wickers has been making phone calls to potential campaign chiefs for Carly's Senate runs. And the conversations have been going like this:
WICKERS: Want to head Carly Fiorina's run for US Senate?
CANDIDATE: Yes! How much money will she be putting in the race?
CANDIDATE: Okay, I get that's the public line, but seriously, how much money will Carly put into her race?
WICKERS: That's the private line, too.
CANDIDATE: Are you serious?
WICKERS: I am serious.
WICKERS: Still want to do it?
CANDIDATE: Hell no. She won't win without self-funding, and I won't get paid.
The takeaway here? Carly Fiorina will not self-fund. Actually, let me give that the all-caps extravaganza it deserves:
Carly Fiorina WILL NOT SELF-FUND.
Given that the NRSC and Senator Cornyn, in public and private, have touted Carly's self-funding potential as the major reason for supporting her -- despite her record of political non-participation, despite her emerging Iran scandal, despite her lackluster corporate record, and despite her series of foot-in-mouth moments -- this is a big deal. We have Cornyn and the NRSC telling donors and big names, "Screw Chuck DeVore and the conservative grassroots, we want Carly's cash," and we have Carly telling potential hires, "My cash ain't coming."
How inept can the NRSC be? History has yet to record a full answer. And that's not even the whole story.
After failing to secure a campaign chief for Carly, she fired Dresner, Wickers. Or maybe she didn't -- it depends on who you ask. Dresner, Wickers is quietly telling contacts that it ditched Carly after she made it impossible for them to do their job. Marty Wilson is telling people that Carly fired them, and hired him in their place.
Who is Marty Wilson? California Republicans know him as Arnold Schwarzenegger's bag man, who rose to prominence by raking in the cash for the Governator's '03 and '06 campaigns. From this experience, Marty Wilson has promulgated the theory that Marty Wilson is the great political fundraiser and campaign consultant of all time. This is why Steve Poizner, 2010 CA GOP gubernatorial candidate, hired Wilson early in his own campaign.
Poizner quickly realized that Marty Wilson's putative awesomeness was based upon having fundraised for a candidate with 99.9%+ preexisting name recognition, decades of Hollywood blockbusters, and the defeat of SkyNet to his credit. That is to say, nearly irrelevant to almost every other candidate in any race anywhere. Thus Poizner and Wilson parted this past July. Marty Wilson, impelled by the thesis that Marty Wilson Gotta Eat, immediately began campaigning for a job with the supposedly-flush-with-cash Fiorina campaign.
Exit Dresner, Wickers -- enter Wilson. And that's where we stand now. Questions!
- How long before Wilson also departs the Fiorina campaign, if she's not going to self-fund?
- What is the rationale for Fiorina in the absence of self-funding, anyway?
- Do Cornyn and the NRSC know she's not self-funding?
- How did this get missed?
- Why did they tout her self-funding as THE REASON to screw conservatives and support her?
- Who's lying about the departure of Dresner, Wickers, from the Fiorina campaign?
- Is Bob Wickers trying to save face, or is Marty Wilson smearing his predecessor?
- Is the FEC paying attention to the expenditure ceiling for Fiorina's exploratory committee at this point? 'Cause we're on the third high-priced consultant in less than a month now (Hollywood PR flack Fred Davis, Bob Wickers, Marty Wilson), and I'm pretty sure they aren't doing this pro bono. Carly's also commissioned a poll that easily cost $20,000.
Bottom line is that the Fiorina campaign is a disaster before it's even begun, with all the dysfunction and backstabbing that marked her corporate leadership. Toss in the NRSC bungling that's been part and parcel of its operations this year, and you've got a big story.