Three secretive Washington, D.C. consulting firms founded by former Obama campaign staffers have provided millions of dollars in advertising services, apparently entirely on credit, to Highway 31, a shell independent expenditure organization based in Birmingham, Alabama that supports liberal Democrat Doug Jones and opposes conservative Republican Roy Moore, in the 26 days since its formation on November 6.
On Friday, two of these Washington, D.C. based firms dropped another $101,612 into the Alabama U.S. Senate race on Friday, bringing the total spent to date by three firms run by Obama campaign alumni as apparent “in-kind” contributions to Highway 31 to $2.8 million in less than one month.
Jones and Moore face off in the Alabama U.S. Senate special general election to be held next week on December 12. The Real Clear Politics Average of Polls shows Moore currently holds a 2.5 point lead.
Waterfront Strategies, a Washington, D.C. based wholly owned subsidiary of GMMB Consulting, founded by former Obama campaign staffer Jim Margolis, has spent between $1.1 million and $1.9 million on behalf of Highway 31.
Putnam Partners, a Washington, D.C. based consulting firm founded by former Obama campaign staffer Mark Putnam, has spent between $32,000 and $850,000 on behalf of Highway 31.
An exact number on the amount spent on behalf of Highway 31 by each of these three Washington, D.C. based consulting firms run by former Obama campaign staffers cannot be determined as of yet because reports filed by Highway 31 for the period covering November 23 and November 29 include amendments to prior reports.
The three former Obama campaign staffers running these three firms–Margolis, Bleeker, and Putnam–participated at very high levels of the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012.
GMMB Consulting founder Jim Margolis “served as senior advisor to President Obama in both the former President’s campaigns for the White House, leading each cycle’s advertising effort and helping direct the campaign as part of the core strategic team,” according to the company’s website:
Jim also co-produced the two Obama Presidential Inaugurals and both of Mr. Obama’s national conventions. In the 2016 presidential election, Jim served as senior advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, leading her paid advertising effort and producing the 2016 Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
Bully Pulpit Interactive founder Andrew Bleeker “was the lead digital marketing strategist on both of President Obama’s campaigns as well as a senior advisor to Secretary Clinton,” according to his company’s website.
Putnam Partners founder Mark Putnam played a significant role in both the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns, according to the Putnam Partners company website:
Mark’s highest profile project was writing and producing Barack Obama’s 2008 election eve 30-minute television special that aired simultaneously on seven networks and was viewed by over 35 million people. The Washington Post television critic Tom Shales called it “somehow both poetic and practical, spiritual and sensible…a montage of montages, a series of seamlessly blended segments.”
In 2012, Mark continued his work on the Obama Media Team, creating many nationally aired television ads, including the “47 Percent” ad that the Los Angeles Times and Politico both called “the best” ad of the campaign. National Journal called it “haunting” and The Guardian said it was “the one that really packed the most devastating punch.”
Mark also wrote and produced the Michelle Obama biographical films “South Side Girl” and “Michelle” for the 2008 and 2012 Democratic conventions. “South Side Girl” was called “intimate” and “emotional” by Newsweek, and The New York Times called it “vivid.”
In his book, The Audacity to Win, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called Mark “one of the best producers in our party.”
An independent expenditure report signed by Highway 31 treasurer Edward Still and filed electronically at 5:23 p.m. eastern on Saturday with the Federal Election Commission stated that Waterfront Strategies spent $99,009 on Friday in support of liberal Democrat Doug Jones for a media buy whose “Date of Public Distribution/Dissemination = 12/01/2017” in an order placed, but apparently not paid for, by Highway 31.
That same report stated that Putnam Partners spent $2,603 for “Media Production Costs” whose “Date of Public Distribution/Dissemenination=12/01/2017.” These funds were apparently expended by Putnam Partners on behalf of Highway 31, but Highway 31 has apparently not paid a dime to Putnam Partners or any other vendor because, as of November 20, at least, it has no assets and no cash.
Total spending by Obama campaigners for Highway 31 advertising in support of liberal Democrat Doug Jones on Friday, December 1 was $101, 612, bringing their total spending since November 6 to $2,818,989.
An independent expenditure report signed by Highway 31 treasurer Edward Still and filed electronically at 5:00 p.m. eastern on Friday with the Federal Election Commission stated that Waterfront Strategies spent $733,464 on Thursday in opposition to conservative Republican Roy Moore for a media buy whose “Date of Public Distribution/Dissemination = 11/30/2017” in an order placed, but apparently not paid for, by Highway 31, bringing their total spending from November 6 to $2,717, 376.
Because Highway 31 has failed to provide the FEC with a comprehensive report on its activities during this seven day period, it is impossible to determine how much was spent by which Washington, D.C. based consulting firm run by former Obama campaign staffers during this period.
On November 22, Highway 31 filed its first statement of activities with the FEC, which showed that it had no cash, no assets, and owed the Obama campaign staffer run media companies $1,154, 844 for expenses incurred by them on its behalf between November 6 and November 22.
Bully Pulpit Interactive spent $800,692, Waterfront Strategies spent $309,690, Putnam Partners spent $29,716, and other vendors spent $14,746 on behalf of Highway 31 during this 17 day period.
Those services, therefore, were provided entirely on credit and, in the event Highway 31 never pays for those services, will constitute an “in-kind” contribution from the Obama staffer run media companies to Highway 31.
Highway 31 has subsequently filed no further information about its financial status with the FEC. While it is possible that between November 23 and December 1, it received contributions and has paid its Obama staffer run media vendors the $1.1 million in debt run up for advertising services delivered prior to November 23, and the additional $1.7 million in advertising services delivered between November 23 and December 1, there is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate such payments have been made, or that Highway 31 has the capability to make those payments.
Breitbart News asked Highway 31 executive director Adam Muhlendorf to provide details about the organization’s financial resources as of close-of-business Friday, but has received no response.
Specifically, Breitbart News asked how much cash Highway 31 has in the bank as of Friday, how much it has paid advertising vendors, and how much it currently owes advertising vendors.
Breitbart News also asked Muhlendorf whether or not Highway 31 has received any contributions, how much it has received in contributions, and the names and addresses of any donors who have given more than $2,000, if any.
Muhlendorf has not responded to any of these questions.