That long grift just gets better
"Data consultants" turn out to be "weed data consultants;" Culp paid double for signs
Here at The Washington Observer we love it when a plan comes together. And part of our plan was that our smart, engaged readers would jump in with specialized knowledge of how things really go down in this world.
That’s exactly what happened after we sent out the our story about Loren Culp for Governor as a long con. Tipsters — and there’s nothing we love better than a legit tipster — started to come out of the woodwork with nuances and details that we’d overlooked.
One noticed that the Culp campaign paid roughly twice the going rate for yard signs, about $5 instead of $2-$3. And the Culp folks bought a great many signs indeed, more than $325,000 worth, according to their filings with the Public Disclosure Commission. That supports the idea that Culp’s Vegas-bound campaign consultant, Christopher Gergen, who took home at least $300,000 of the $3.1 million the campaign raised from mostly small donors, may have also demanded kickbacks from vendors as part of a plan to maximize the return on a campaign that was doomed from the start.
Several of you noted that Salience Data, the mysterious Marysville outfit that raked in $410,000 from Culp’s campaign for “data consulting,” actually has a parent company listed in the Secretary of State’s database, something called 421 Holdings, controlled by Anton Stetner, the Marysville Realtor mentioned in Monday’s story and a guy named Barry Hurd, who bills himself as a “digital accelerator.” Well, one of the things that he accelerates is the weed business. Salience does not appears previously in the Public Disclosure Commission’s database as a campaign vendor, and it’s still not clear what services they provided.
We were also pointed to Gergen’s real start in politics, which wasn’t helping get Donald Trump historically beaten down in Oregon in 2016, but actually getting his own ass kicked in an Oregon state House race in 2014, when he got 35 percent of the vote. To be fair, the race was in Springfield, just across Interstate 5 from Eugene and the University of Oregon, so pretty hostile territory for a Republican.
And finally, we learned that Dark Horse Political, Gergen’s firm, had one other client this cycle in Washington, a guy named Matt Marshall, who got badly thrashed by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox in the primary. That’s the same J.T. Wilcox whom Gergen has been threatening to take out in the primary in 2022. Seems like maybe that’s already been settled on the hardwood.
The Observer’s first correction
Another upside of smart, clued-in readers is they’re going to catch it when we screw up, which will make The Observer better. In Monday’s story, and several times before, I referred to Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2012 campaign as his first run for that office. As a reader pointed out, Inslee lost in the primary in 1996. He finished third among Democrats, and fifth overall. Democrat Gary Locke went on to trounce Republican Ellen Craswell in the fall.
And here’s Milo the awesome dog to brighten your day
Thanks for your attention. The Washington Observer is an independent newsletter on politics, government and the influence thereof in Washington State. If you’re not already a subscriber, please join us. It’s free — for now.