Archive for July 18th, 2011

Newt Gingrich’s $800,000 Tiffany Website Puts His Campaign into Debt

Newt Gingrich spent close to $800,000 on a website and mass-email system? According to the Post, that jewelry from Tiffany’s isn’t the only gold-plated part of his campaign:

Gingrich also spent nearly $800,000 on Internet and software-related services from three technology firms. Spokesman R.C. Hammond said the bills were largely due to high start-up costs for a new Web site.

The LA Times has more details:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, fell $1 million into debt by the end of the quarter. The campaign still owes more than $200,000 on a $700,000-plus bill from the Austin, Texas, firm hired to develop his website and email distribution platform.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond defended the campaign’s Web development costs.

“Reaching out to a voter online is just as important as reaching out to a voter in person,” he said. “It will be a cornerstone to how the campaign communicates with the coalition of supporters we’re building.”

Did that number include the stock photography? Of course, Barack Obama paid Blue State Digital and other vendors a big chunk of change for online services in 2008, but he was also raising tens (later hundreds) of millions of dollars at the time. And, they were in the process of building tools from scratch that have since become commonplace — nowadays, enough standardized, off-the-shelf technology exists that a campaign can put together a robust online presence for a whole lot less money than custom development would cost (look at Bob McDonnell’s 2009 Virginia gubernatorial campaign for one example and Scott Brown’s 2010 Massachusetts race for another).

My suspicion? Newt’s love of Big Ideas got him into Big Trouble in this case, and a couple of vendors will be the beneficiaries — if they ever get paid.

cpd

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