Carly Fiorina’s PAC is still spending money — on Uber rides, furniture and hair styling
It’s been nearly three years since she was the shortest-lived vice presidential candidate in history, but a hybrid PAC made in support of Carly Fiorina is alive and well.
Carly for America, formed in March 2016, has outlasted the candidate it supported and continued to spend through the end of 2018. The committee dropped $784,782 in the 2018 cycle — and more than $100,000 over the last calendar year — none of which was spent on independent expenditures supporting or opposing any federal candidates.
Instead, the PAC has spent thousands on extraneous activities, including an estimated $5,488 on Uber rides, $2,994 worth of trips to Fox News alumni-founded Style Me Bar for “hair and makeup consulting” and “styling services” and a combined $5,880 to Trump Tower in December 2016 when Fiorina met with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the job of director of national intelligence.
The PAC paid Ikea $6,261 for furniture in January 2018 and paid Pottery Barn more than $2,000 for furniture in May 2018. In September 2017, the PAC paid $700 for food at Charlie Palmer Steak House and more than $900 at Benjamin Steak House in May 2017.
Most of the committee’s funds in the cycle came from Fiorina’s nascent campaign committee. The PAC received $721,435 from Carly for President in total. Carly for President was terminated on Oct. 27, 2017, shortly after giving the remainder of its funds to the PAC.
The PAC received another $575,000 from CARLY for America, a similarly-named pro-Fiorina super PAC which had to change its name to avoid an FEC violation, in May 2016 and $50,936 in 2017. CARLY for America was terminated on March 9, 2017.
The close proximity between the two pro-Fiorina groups is unsurprising. During Fiorina’s White House bid, her campaign and the CARLY super PAC appeared to ignore the legal firewall that is supposed to keep the two entities separate and independent.
In March 2016, Fiorina announced that “Carly for America” had a new mission: “using our resources and our experience to help conservative outsiders win in November, restoring citizen government at every level.”
But between then and the end of the 2018 cycle, the pro-Fiorina PACs didn’t spend a dime on independent expenditures supporting Republican candidates. Carly for America contributed a total of just $12,700 to five federal candidate campaigns. Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), Rep. Will Hurd’s (R-Texas) Hurd Victory Fund and unsuccessful Virginia candidates Jeff Dove and former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) each received $2,500 in contributions from the PAC. Unsuccessful Republican primary candidate Tim Kane (R-Ohio) got a $2,700 contribution from the PAC.
The PAC continued to pay consultants in 2017, giving Johnson Strategies LLC more than $111,000 in 2017 for “strategic consulting.” The Texas firm was a vendor for Fiorina’s campaign, hybrid PAC and super PAC in 2016, taking more than $148,000 between the three. The pro-Fiorina PAC spent another nearly $75,000 with Tusk Digital, a consulting firm that Fiorina’s campaign paid more than $2 million in 2016 and Carly For America paid nearly $193,000 combined in the 2016 and 2018 cycles.
Frank Sadler, Fiorina’s 2016 campaign manager and current chief of staff, received $58,030 in wages from the committee throughout 2017. Sadler was linked to other pro-Fiorina super PACs during the 2016 primary campaign.
Stephen DeMaura, who was the executive director of CARLY for America, received a little over $269 from Carly for America in 2017 for “reimbursement.” Demaura, like Sadler, had several ties to Fiorina’s campaign. The conservative “dark money” group Americans for Job Security, for which DeMaura was president, faced scrutiny for not filing its taxes and was wrapped up in two other campaign finance scandals.
Bridget Spurlock was the scheduling coordinator for Carly for President from May 2015 to February 2016, according to her LinkedIn account. She was then the scheduling director and press secretary for Carly for America from February 2016 to January 2017. While working for Carly for America, she was paid $21,486. She currently works as director of scheduling and operations for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Just two people made itemized individual contributions to the committee in the most recent cycle totaling $1,205. Dylan Glass made six contributions to the committee throughout 2017. The name matches a Dylan Glass who is the administrator of the active but sparsely populated Citizens for Carly Fiorina Facebook page.
The two similarly-named groups happen to employ the same two consultants. Chris Marston and Brenda Hankins are listed as either treasurer or assistant treasurer for Carly for America and CARLY for America. Marston and Hankins run the Election CFO firm which specializes in “provid[ing] services from fully-outsourced treasurer services to review and filing of regulatory reports,” its website reads.
It’s unclear who is using the PAC as a personal bank account of sorts. Haskins, Marston and Fiorina did not respond to a request for comment. Despite the apparent apolitical nature of the PAC’s spending, FEC regulations overseeing these groups are limited.
The FEC in 2016 asked Congress to give the agency more authority so it could extend personal use provisions to apply to all political committees and enact self-dealing provisions to prevent abuse of political committees and so-called “scam PACs.” Their call was not returned.
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