Despite being in a tight race, Sen. Doug Ericksen seems to be wasting thousands of donor dollars. I’ve done some digging into Ericksen’s campaign expenditures and while the incumbent senator in the 42nd district has raised a lot of money, he has made some odd decisions on how it should be spent.
As I covered last year, smart political campaigns know that every dollar should be spent on voter contact. Of course you have to pay the bills, hire a campaign manager and throw a few fundraisers. But mostly you need to be conserving resources for ads and voter outreach.
It is the sign of an undisciplined campaign to spend money on frivolous things that won’t help win the election. People who give money to candidates would be well advised to keep an eye on these things to make sure that their money isn’t being wasted.
I haven’t given any money to Doug Ericksen this election cycle. But if I had, I would ask for it back. Here’s what I found:
Frisbees – $1050. In general, things with the candidate’s name on them that can only be seen by one person are a bad idea. Yard signs, t-shirts and bumper stickers are a marginal investment at best. Ordering over 1,500 of these things? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Rangers Soccer, “Community Advertising” – $425. I don’t know what one gets for $425 dollars worth of advertising with Ranger’s soccer. But it isn’t placement on their website, which lists Walton Beverage, Alcoa and Gatorade. It is worth knowing that Rangers Soccer is the local competitive youth soccer team and that Doug’s facebook page features pictures of his daughter playing soccer in a Ranger’s jersey.
I got in touch with a friend who’s children also play on a competitive team, and they said “That sounds like travel expenses. There are always tournaments and the kids have to raise money for travel expenses. Sometimes they do a golf tournament, sometimes they do carwashes to raise the money.” It is difficult to confirm but it looks like Ericksen is using his campaign account to pay for his daughter’s soccer trip.
Meals – As was reported in The Stand, Doug Ericksen has apparently been eating out of his campaign account. He has spent over $1200 of campaign funds on meals at restaurants.
Video Equipment – $1137.90. This equipment has apparently been used to make a series of YouTube videos (see here) which are jittery, sloppy pieces of work with only 40 views. There are four other videos on the Ericksen’s YouTube channel. That means they cost $227 each. They have a a combined total of 652 views which includes his campaign staff, presumably his opponent and his staff, and me. If you take out the people whose job it is to watch these videos and people who watch them more than once (I’m responsible for at least 4 or 5 views), he’s probably reached between 150 and 200 people, most of whom had already made up their minds. I wonder who gets to keep the equipment at the end of the campaign?
Rodeo Sponsorship – $2000 – I was willing to cut Ericksen some slack on this one – Buys bought the sponsorship too – but after uncovering all the other frivolous expenses, this had to go back on the list. $2,000 can buy a great deal of flyers and doorbelling material – to blow all that money on a banner and mention at the Rodeo seems somewhere between vain and foolish.
Parking in Ferndale – $12 For this puzzle, I had to enlist the help of former Bellingham Herald reporter Sam Taylor who is now the City Clerk of Ferndale. After some sleuthing, we determined it wasn’t a parking ticket but merely a day of parking at one of the Diamond lots in Ferndale. I’m not aware of any law against spending campaign money to pay a candidate’s parking and it isn’t a lot of money, but it sure seems like bad form.
So what is the point? I think these are symptoms of a candidate not taking a race seriously. The Political Junkie has heard rumors that he isn’t working very hard on this campaign, and this information corroborates those rumors.
By contrast, the list of expenses on Seth Fleetwood’s side is much shorter. His expenses are almost entirely payroll, printing and mailing. Of course, Seth has to run a tighter ship, he has less money and it’s hard to defeat a 16 year incumbent. He has to do more with less.
It is an interesting contrast between the two men striving to represent the increasing frugal 42nd district.