Newt Gingrich Campaign Vendors Wonder if They’ll Ever Get Paid
For a long time, Larry Scheffler maintained a hard policy at his Nevada printing company: no credit for politicians. But when a friend called on behalf of GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich In January, saying the candidate needed signs for the upcoming Nevada caucus, Scheffler made an exception.
“They said they were going to pay right away,” Scheffler, 61, said in an interview.
Scheffler’s company, Las Vegas Color Graphics, produced a trove of campaign materials for Gingrich: 5,000 rally signs, 5,000 bumper stickers, 5,000 lapel stickers, 5,000 cards targeting Hispanic voters, and nearly 100 yard signs. The tab came to $7,439.62.
But more than two months after the caucus, Scheffler is still waiting for the check. “We got burned,” he said.
Like all the GOP presidential hopefuls, Gingrich has cast himself as a champion of small businesses, promising tax relief to American entrepreneurs and a deregulation plan that will spur job growth. But some small businesses are less than pleased with the former House speaker’s presidential campaign — in particular, some of the vendors who have performed work for it. Last month HuffPost reported how Gingrich was ramping up an expensive campaign even as he was running out of money and flagging in the polls. The loose spending should come as little surprise: Gingrich was trailed by 30 years’ worth of debts, lawsuits and bankruptcies leading into the campaign.
In interviews with HuffPost, many vendors listed in Gingrich’s Federal Election Commission debt disclosures said they’re still waiting to be paid, weeks or months after finishing work. Several said they’ve been given the runaround by campaign officials as they’ve tried to collect. Gingrich has vowed to slog on with his debt-ridden campaign, despite having won a mere 136 delegates, leaving some vendors to wonder when they can expect their checks.
Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told HuffPost that Newt 2012 is doing its best to pay people. “Vendors have been contacted and we are paying bills as swiftly as we are able,” Hammond said.
Gingrich said Sunday that his campaign is “slightly less” than $4.5 million in debt, adding that he dipped into “personal funds” to help keep Newt 2012 moving “on a shoestring.”
“We owe much more than we wanted to,” Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday. “Florida got to be a real brawl. And I think, unfortunately, our guys tried to match Romney and it turned out we didn’t have anything like his capacity to raise money.”
Though Gingrich has long held himself up as a paragon of fiscal responsibility, vendors that include Noiseworks Media have found that the former speaker’s campaign is apparently spending money it doesn’t have. Based in Coral Gables, Fla., Noiseworks produced a handful of television and radio spots for the campaign, in English as well as Spanish, that aired in Florida and Arizona leading up to those primaries. Disclosure forms peg Gingrich’s debt to Noiseworks at $10,500, but the firm’s director, Tere Gutierrez, said the tab is closer to $24,000. The firm fronted nearly half of that money to actors, makeup artists and other contractors that the firm needed for the production, Gutierrez said.
“It’s unusual that we don’t get paid — politicians are usually very good at that, they pay immediately,” said Gutierrez. But with the Gingrich campaign, “It’s getting from bad to worse. … It’s a lot of running around, ‘We’re going to get to you, we’re going to do a payment plan.’ We’re calling and emailing, calling and emailing, every day. And nothing.”