A new report from Politico’s Ken Vogel details how ten major GOP consultant firms who made a combined $1 billion off Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 White House bid are still large and in charge of GOP politics, raking in millions more for the 2014 cycle.
According to Vogel’s analysis, the firms and the consultants who work for them have already made–through January 2014, nearly a full year before the midterm elections–more than $19.6 million.
“They’ve also cemented relationships with some of the GOP’s rising stars, setting up the firms for even bigger paydays headed into the fall, when costly advertising and mail campaigns begin, and for a 2016 presidential campaign expected to be the most expensive in history,” Vogel wrote on Monday.
The firms Vogel focuses heavily on include: Mentzer Media Service, Crossroads Media, American Rambler Productions, Targeted Victory, and FLS Connect.
Each of these firms handled major projects for the Romney 2012 campaign or for GOP groups aligned with Romney’s outfit.
Mentzer Media Service, an ad-buying firm based in Baltimore, was paid $280 million in the 2012 cycle from groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads, pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future, and Koch-brothers-funded organizations like Americans For Prosperity, and others. As of January 2014, the firm already made $2.2 million for this cycle.
Crossroads Media, another ad-buying firm based in Alexandria, VA, made $248 million in 2012, mostly from work it did for Rove’s American Crossroads and its sister group Crossroads GPS. This firm’s only work in the 2014 cycle thus far is $494,000 it made in 2013 from doing work for Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) in his special election bid for Congress.
American Rambler Productions made $241 million in 2012 after being formed as what Vogel calls an “ad hoc umbrella consultancy” the Romney campaign created “to handle a variety of key functions, including crafting ads and buying airtime.” While this group has “effectively dissolved,” Vogel wrote, a myriad of the consultants involved “including Stevens and Russ Schriefer, formed a new firm with Romney ad director Ashley O’Connor and Austin Barbour that handled Christie’s campaign and is working on Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson’s campaign, among others.”
Targeted Victory is a digital firm that made $112 million in 2012 and has made $3 million through January for the 2014 cycle already. Vogel notes that it did work for Romney’s 2012 campaign, the RNC, Rove’s Crossroads and various other Super PACs. “Co-founded by [Zach] Moffatt [Romney’s 2012 digital director] in 2009, the firm has experienced explosive growth since the Romney campaign, more than doubling its staff to 85 employees and signing over 100 new clients in 2014 — more than the total number it had prior to the cycle,” Vogel wrote.
FLS Connect is a phone banking and data firm based in Minnesota that was paid $68 million in 2012 by the Romney campaign and a variety of other clients like congressional candidates and GOP electoral committees. Former RNC chief of staff Jeff Larson is a founding partner of FLS Connect, and Vogel notes he is “now running the independent expenditure advertising program at the NRSC, which is not among the various party committees, super PACs and candidates that have combined to pay FLS $10 million for 2014 work.”
While Vogel notes that hardly anyone “in the consulting world on either side of the aisle dispute that a certain amount of cronyism — or, at least, inertia — plays some role in determining who gets which contracts,” the GOP consultants he quotes in the article attribute their continued high-dollar workload to being effective political workers–even though they lost the 2012 election.
“People are either doing good work or they’re not and, if they’re not, the market will ultimately correct itself,” Moffatt said, for instance. “This is really a professional’s profession. A lot of people can talk about it, but not everyone can do it. A lot of these people think they can play in the NFL because they play Madden on the weekends, but it’s not that easy.”
Romney’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, Katie Packer Gage, seconded Moffatt’s assessment of the entire team being talented. “The people on our team were very, very good,” she said. “I would go into battle with my team any day of the week, and the political world knows that they’re smart, honorable people, so that’s why you see them continuing to get work.”