Failed Romney Online Gurus in Charge of Republican 'Online Media Autopsy'

To avoid a repeat of last month's election loss, the GOP needs to conduct a thorough review of what went right, and what went wrong, in the campaign. Clearly some, and possibly many, elements of the campaign didn't work. There does seem to be a review under way. Unfortunately, its being led by some of the very people who ran the Republican effort.

On Saturday Politico reported that Romney campaign digital director Zac Moffat and Republican National Committee chief of staff Jeff Larson were in charge of an informal Republican online media autopsy held in Washington on Thursday:

About 50 top Republicans, both staffers for the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee as well as outside GOP digital consultants, huddled in Washington Thursday morning to rehash what Mitt Romney did wrong, digitally speaking. . .

The group, led by Romney campaign digital director Zac Moffatt, RNC digital director Tyler Brown and RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson, included about a third RNC and Romney campaign staffers and two-thirds outside GOP operatives and representatives from companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

The attendance of RNC chief of staff Larson and digital director Brown suggests the gathering was sanctioned by the RNC, even though it was informal and apparently open to the press.

The timing of the event, the fact that Larson and Moffat were in charge of the proceedings, and the decision to publicize it are curious, especially in light the information contained in Thursday's Federal Election Commission filings by the RNC, Romney Victory, Inc., and the Romney campaign. Breitbart reported on Friday that two firms with whom Moffat and Larson have close ties--FLS Connect, LLC and Targeted Victory, LLC-- were paid $150 million during the 2011-2012 election cycle by the three committees that funded the unsuccessful Romney Presidential campaign.

Moffat, 32, is often referred to in press reports as the co-founder of Targeted Victory, LLC, which received $96 million from the three Romney campaign entities during the 2011-2012 election cycle, the bulk of which likely went to pay for on-line advertising. Larson, 52, co-founded FLS Connect, LLC, which was paid $56 million by the three Romney campaign committees during the 2011-2012 election cycle. Larson says he sold his stake in the firm when he joined the RNC. 

Given the failure of the Romney campaign, the significant role in that failure played by Moffat, the RNC, and Larson, it seems highly inappropriate that something as important as the "online media autopsy" currently underway should be conducted by those who held senior positions in the failed campaign.

It's time to bring in completely independent, outside experts to audit not only the financial performance of the RNC, but to also the marketing performance of the vendors who failed so spectacularly in 2012. The RNC is supported by thousands of rank-and-file GOP donors across the country. The party has an obligation to be a careful steward of these donations. 

Larson and Moffat may very well have done their best for the Romney effort and directed party resources in the most productive way. But, we shouldn't take only their word for it. 


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