Mitt Romney ran as a “businessman” who could save America with his business know-how. Apparently that know-how did not extend to his campaign, suggesting once again that squeezing the money out of a fledgling business is not the same thing as actually running one.
Last week, the Romney press corp wrote a formal complaint regarding the charges that they say far exceed any other campaign. Today, after getting no response from on high, some of the press corp alerted American Express that they are contesting the charges.
Citing examples of “exorbitant charges” for food and holding costs, the press corp detail in their letter to the Romney campaign, “Some examples: $745 per person charged for a vice presidential debate viewing party on Oct. 11; $812 charged for a meal and a hold on Oct. 18; $461 for a meal and hold the next day; $345 for food and hold Oct. 30.”
These are no small outlets fighting back against the Romney campaign; signing the letter are the higher ups from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Agence France-Presse, Washington Post, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, and Financial Times. This isn’t their first rodeo.
They also have questions about food ostensibly provided for them but eaten by the campaign staff. “These costs far exceed typical expenses on the campaign trail. Also, it was clear to all present that the campaign’s paid staff frequently consumed the food and drinks ostensibly produced for the media. Were any of the costs of these events charged to the campaign itself, to cover the care and feeding of its staff?”
Earlier Buzzfeed reported that the campaign went all out at the viewing party, providing massage tables and lavish food and booze. Unfortunately, these perks weren’t discussed with all of the media that are now being charged for them.
Buzzfeed noted wryly that an anonymous campaign aide said that the bills were indicative of a mismanaged campaign rather than deliberate overcharging, “One campaign aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bills were not artificially inflated, but rather the product of a generally mismanaged campaign. The aide said the advance team — which was tasked with arranging meals and accommodations for the press — failed to communicate with other elements of the campaign and consistently spent more money than necessary.”
However, the press corp discovered that they are apparently being upcharged for transportation by the campaign. Writing that the costs for transpo exceeded the costs during the primaries and yet was spread out among a larger pool of reporters, sometimes exceeding $1,000.00 a day, they note, “One news organization contacted two of the bus agencies used by the campaign; it was clear from their reporting that the costs you charged us far outdistanced what you paid for the transportation.”
That’s called overbilling.
Apparently the media outlets began complaining during the campaign about the high prices. An aide said that senior campaign staff just blew the complaints off.
Now American Express is being asked to intervene on behalf of the media outlets. I hope they have better luck than I did the last time I tried to get my credit card company to put a hold on paying something I never authorized. It seems credit card companies now take corporations’ word over actual written and signed contracts — a trend that bodes well for Mitt Romney.
The question remains, is this arrogance or bad management – or both? It appears to be bad management until we get to the transportation charges, which the campaign appears to have overcharged the media for as if they are taking a cut off the top. Rather tacky. Any way you slice it, this is hardly the picture of a fiscally conservative campaign. They come off as throwing money around carelessly and yet again, no one at the top paid attention. I’d call that mismanaged arrogance from the top, hardly a new charge against the Romney campaign or the man in charge of it.
This latest episode is reminiscent of the Romney campaign’s ORCA fail, also referred to by a user as a “huge clusterf*ck.”