Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

February 12, 2004

by J

Trippi's Weblog

Joe Trippi has started up a weblog -- Change For America. In a recent entry he explains his perspective on how much he and his firm were paid for their work for DFA.
2. I recently inquired about the contract and my compensation. It turns out it was a 7% contract. Meaning that if $7 million in TV was bought 93% went to TV stations to buy the time and 7% or $490,000 was paid to the firm in which I was a partner. My firm has 3 partners so my third or share comes to approximately $165,000. I will let the grassroots and donors of the campaign decide if that was too much compensation. $165,000 is a lot of money, but it is not the $7 million the media and those leveling the attacks want you to believe either.

So why are they trying to make $165,000 sound like $7 million?

Because how do you stop a movement? How do you stop people from contributing to change their country? Its easy -- make them think the whole damn thing was a ponzi scheme to enrich a consultant.
Note the careful "if $7 million..." But, who cares? I never cared about how much Trippi et. al. were paid as long as they were effective. Apparently something broke, though. More important to those in the media and disaffected supporters who think there was some evil plot to bilk the grassroots is this observation:
3. My partner Steve McMahon had handled Governor Dean's media for over 12 years. And Trippi McMahon & Squier were hired as the media firm long before I volunteered to run the campaign when not many would. This is important -- because this fact means that as a 1/3 partner in my firm -- I would have made the $165,000 in 2003 if I had gone golfing in Fiji for the entire year instead of going sleepless in Burlington.

Posted by J at February 12, 2004 07:35 AM

The Note annoys me. I need to stop reading it again.

Months and months and months weblogs have been part of the political campaign landscape now. And yet, today, The Note observes that Trippi has a blog and says, erroneously:

First entry: a defense of the allegations that his firm was lucratively lined with commissions from the Dean campaign. And a very, very pointed reference to Bob Rogan, deputy campaign manager for Gov. Dean and the man who had budget authority (and, by implication), Dean's trust.

No, that was actually not the first entry. You nitwits. The first entry is here and doesn't say anything about Bob Rogan at all.

Now, yes, on one level, this is a minor mistake. And yet, so frustratingly typical. It's an attempt at a smear to suggest that Trippi's first entry in his blog about 'changing America' is to focus on his pay rate and point the finger at someone else. It's just not true.

Guess 'The Note' still doesn't really 'get it' when it comes to weblogs if they couldn't figure out that an entry titled "Post #2" is not Post #1.

Tsk tsk. I'm available for consulting, ABC. Just drop me an email. Eeee-mail -- that's the little notes you send over the computer, mm'kay? j at valuejudgment dot org.

Posted by: J at February 12, 2004 11:32 AM

Trippi's biggest sin was leaving the campaign when he did and letting the media keep "piling on" the meme that the campaign was collapsing. A good soldier would have done what he was asked to do (lead the internet/grassroots) and not storm off like a child. How many times since has Dean been accused of firing Trippi?

The $7 million amount for advertisement seems low, but even at that amount, the amount paid to the media advisors is money Dean would later desperately need for advertising in any of the states after New Hampshire. The campaign was asking for 2 million people to give $100 and even said people would be willing to borrow that money to give to the campaign. The truth is that even $100 wasn't enough to keep feeding the beast. And, while some people making only tens of thousands of dollars a year were maxing out on contributions, Trippi's company was making money from the cause. I don't care if he said he let the lawyers write the contract.

The sad thing is, right after becoming governor, Dean said something like: if the people don't trust you with their money they won't let you govern. Ever since before Iowa I've believed the candidate would be judged by the competence of the campaign. Unfortunately, over time, even with Neel in charge, I haven't seen evidence of competence. I hope they prove me wrong.

Posted by: JulieL at February 12, 2004 11:38 AM

I agree with some of that. I thought Trippi's leaving looked rather petulant.

However, I'm not going to begrudge campaign consultants their salaries. It's a serious business and professionals should be able to command decent salaries in it. Your staff should not be required to be true believers willing to work for nothing in order to work on your campaign. (As someone who has worked for a non-profit with a whiff of 'sacrifice for the public good, peon!' in the air, I'm particularly sensitive to this.) Do that, and you'll lose the best people to other campaigns.

I also share your frustration, though, about some of the campaign decisions. OTOH, if their gamble in Iowa had paid off, Dean would be walking to the nomination. Hindsight's easy.

Posted by: J at February 12, 2004 11:45 AM

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