Ben Carson made headlines with his cash haul last quarter but there is a story buried here there calls into question the extent to which Carson’s campaign is viable… and whether he really cares. As a reminder, here were the totals:

gop fundraising 1

But then we see this:

This leads to:

…Despite raising more than his competitors, Carson’s campaign finances may be unsustainable. His campaign spent $14.2 million in the third quarter, but his records show that $10 million was spent on expenses related to fundraising. The campaign told NBC Politics’ Alexandra Jaffe that total fundraising expenses hit $11.2 in the third quarter.

The Carson campaign’s burn rate on fundraising means that it cost the campaign 50 cents for every dollar raised. Since Carson relies heavily on small donors who give through direct mail, telemarketing and online advertising appeals, any dip in funding may imperil the financial well-being of his campaign — and the profits of the companies he is paying.

Carson is taking a leave from his campaign to promote his new book.

Just a couple of items from Carson’s FEC filing. One of their direct marketing efforts cost over $500,000 and pulled in just over $40,000. And the campaign has spent nearly $65,000 for copies of Carson’s book or books. Also, his media production numbers are extraordinarily low, indicating the campaign is not developing television ads.

Carson’s reliance on a large number of very small donors presents the flip side of Bush’s problem. Just as Bush is tapping out donors for the max they can contribute during the primary, Carson may be tapping out small donors who have sent all they can. He will need to keep expanding his fundraising base to keep the money flowing and in the process he will create what is known as a ‘self-licking ice cream cone,‘ whereby the fundraising operation will exist solely to perpetuate the fundraising operation.