More than 70 cents of every dollar Libertarian Gary Johnson — a man who could play spoiler in battleground states in November — has spent so far in his 2016 presidential bid has gone to the consulting firm of his campaign manager, Ron Nielson, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of federal campaign finance filings.
This has irked some Libertarians ahead of their national convention, which starts Friday in Orlando, Florida, where party activists will select their presidential and vice presidential nominees.
“It’s extremely troubling,” said George Phillies, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts. “We’re supposed to be fiscally prudent.”
Johnson is a former two-term governor of New Mexico who was the party’s presidential nominee four years ago, earning about 1 percent of the vote nationally.
Phillies calls Johnson, whose 2012 presidential campaign is still roughly $1.9 million in debt, “unacceptable.” Earlier this month, he sent a letter to his fellow Libertarian National Convention delegates urging them to support “a candidate who focuses his resources on outreach, not on paying his campaign advisors.”
Libertarians are hoping to be a force to be reckoned with in 2016 by tapping into dissatisfaction with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — those parties’ all-but-certain presidential nominees.
More than a dozen candidates are challenging Johnson for the Libertarian presidential nomination this year including technology entrepreneur John McAfee and Austin Petersen, owner of news magazine and website LibertarianRepublic.com.