Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sorry, He's Still a Liar UPDATED

The backlash against my diary on Will Bower's lies was a little bit stronger than I had anticipated. I have basically been challenged on three points. The first is that Will Bower backed off the $6 million figure to a smaller amount. The second is that some of the money accidentally went into Hillary's senate campaign account. The third is that PUMAs raised "close" to the $6 million, Will Bower's "conservative" estimate on July 10th.

First, here is Will Bower on July 10, 2008.

We at, we started an initiative before the Fourth of July to raise money to put down her debt. And within that week leading up to the Fourth of July we raised approximately $10 million. Our most conservative estimates have it at six million but we're looking more at $10 million. Our sources tell us that the debt is now less than $5 million from being in the black... we believe that by this weekend that Hillary's debt will be finished.

Yesterday, both here and in private communication, I was told that Will Bower had backed off the $6 million number. I requested, but did not receive, any further evidence from those making this argument. I did a Google search with "Will Bower Hillary Clinton debt" and did not come up with any public statement to that effect. I did, however, find this blog post (which has since been deleted) dated July 23rd in which the author claimed to have learned from Will Bower that Hillary's debt had been erased.

Further, in an appearance with Darragh Murphy on Hardball on August 15, 2008, Will Bower sat silent when David Shuster asked Darragh about the $6 million figure (at 6:40).

If anybody can find a retraction or clarification of his July 10 statement, please send it to me and I will post it. I have tried to find it without success and I did not receive a response to my request yesterday. I was referred to a Clinton Campaign Debt FAQ written by a PUMA who regular visits MyDD. This FAQ only raises more questions for me:
Has PUMA been able to pay down Hillary’s campaign debt?

We won’t know the answer to that questions until the campaign files their next monthly report with the FEC on Wednesday, August 20th. If you recall, in early July, the Just Say No Deal coalition kicked off the July 4th/$20.08 fundraiser, which may have raised an estimated $6-10 M according to Will Bower.

The campaign filing for June shows that the campaign received $2.7 M in individual contributions. July’s report will include July 4th/PUMA fund raising donations. Will’s estimate may be accurate.
Note that the FAQ is dated August 7, 2008. However, this same blogger claimed yesterday that Will Bower had revised his numbers in July:
I've explained Will's estimates. He clarified those estimates several times in July on No We Won't/PUMA radio (I will have to find the shows). The revised estimates were blogged (again in July), I will have to find that as well.
If he "clarified" the $6-$10 million estimate in July, why was this PUMA quoting those discredited numbers in August?

The second argument was that some of the donations had gone into Hillary's senate campaign account. In my original diary, a PUMA posted this email, presumably sent by Will Bower to the members of the PUMA movement:
Hello, fellow PUMAs!

Last week, many of you reached into your pockets and generously gave what you could to help pay down Hillary's campaign debt.

However, the main contribution link at had been redirected towards a different account. Instead of going to pay off her debt, it directed contributions towards her 2012 Senatorial campaign.

If you have any doubt as to where your contribution went, you must contact the financial department at and let them know where you had intended it to go!

For them to be legally able to redirect your donation back into her debt fund, you must make your intentions clear to them.

Here are four ways you can contact them, to let your intentions be known. Again, this is only for if you are in doubt. If you are confident that your money went to pay off her debt, then you need not pursue this.

If you are in doubt, please contact (any or all) of the following, and encourage your PUMA contributing friends to do the same: (Jonathan xxxxx)
phone: 703-xxx-xxxx

Thank you, and I hope you had a great holiday weekend!
What I find interesting about this email is that date it was sent out:
This is a copy of the email that Will sent out on July 6th regarding our July 4th/$20.08 fundraiser, which had kicked off a week earlier:
So four days before Will Bower went on national television to announce that the PUMAs were quickly erasing Hillary's debt, he knew that there was a problem with tracking the donations and getting them to the right place. When he went on Fox News, he made NO mention of the change at Hillary's website. Why? He was on a national platform and the ability to reach potential donors who were not on the PUMA mailing list, yet he said nothing.

Let's assume that a lot of money did, in fact, go to Hillary's Senate campaign. I visited the FEC website and reviewed the financial reports for Hillary's Senate campaign. During the 2007-2008 campaign cycle, through June 30, 2008, Hillary's campaign has received a total of $56,013.

Even if we assume that all $56,013 came from PUMA and all of it in June (this is important because the PUMAs are also arguing that the big fundraiser began in late June), this falls quite short. As these reports are filed quarterly (I think), we will have to wait until the end of September for an update. However, when asked about Bower's claims, a spokesperson for Hillary's presidential campaign said the following:
As far as we know, that $10 million is a fallacy. We have not seen that money. It is our understanding that these groups provide links to our website, and there is no way to track which sites those donations come from. We have received no donations from the PAC.
The third argument posed is that the PUMA's raised "close" to $6 million. Here is what one PUMA wrote to me:
Hillary raised close to $3m in June and $2m in July. That's about $5m total. The PUMA fundraising effort raised most of that money between late-June and July 4--in about a week. So the estimate of $6m wasn't that far off. Since her vendor debt is $11m and $5.2m of that is for Mark Penn, the remaining vendor debt is $5.8m and it looks like the PUMA effort paid a lot of that off.
According to Hillary's June and July monthly FEC reports, her campaign raised a total of $2,708,334.94 in June and $1,930,823.83 in July for a total of $4,639,158.77.

If PUMA claims credit for all of those numbers, it still falls well short of $6 million. I would imagine that there are a number of people who would enthusiastically object to the PUMAs taking credit for all $4.6 million of Hillary's money. The Obama campaign claims that its two fundraisers alone pulled in more than $500,000 for Hillary Clinton. That does not include the many unsolicited small donations made by Obama supporters who wanted to reach out to the Clintonistas after Hillary's concession speech. And Hillary has also held her own fundraisers, both public and private these last two months. In addition to contributing to her T-shirt fundraiser in July, I contributed more money in June in response to an email from Hillary, not PUMA. The PUMAs cannot attribute the entire $4.6 million to their July 4th/$20.08 fundraiser and their other explanations do not add up.

As a Hillary Clintonista, I am anxious to see her debt retired so she can get back to work in the Senate and on the campaign trail for Senators Obama and Biden. I appreciate any effort by any group to help retire her debt, but making false claims about phantom donations do not help her in this effort. If Will Bower cannot back up his claims with facts, he needs to stop talking.

For those of you who are interested in donating to Hillary's debt relief, you can follow this direct link to her presidential campaign.

[Updated at 7:00pm (PDT) by psychodrew]

I have known many of the PUMAs for many months, now, dating back to the primary wars when we were still on the same side. I got to know grlpatriot through the forums that the Clinton bloggers used during the primaries. After Hillary's concession, we maintained our friendship, even when some of her PUMA allies got mad at me for supporting Obama and when some of my Obama allies got mad at her for not supporting Obama. I can say with all honestly that grlpatriot is a true believer. She is not a Republican troll or a troublemaker. I believe that she is a person of conviction, even if I do not share those convictions.

In today's diary, I questioned Will Bower's honesty and I will not walk that back. Until he comes up with an explanation for what he has said and done, I stand by my words. But I should not have implied that grlpatriot was dishonest. In the comments and in private communication, she has objected to how I depicted her Clinton Campaign Debt FAQ.

Her position is that Will Bower did back off the $6 million figure in the PUMA radio shows, even if he didn't do so in a more public forum. Even if I did not know grlpatriot to be an honest person, the explanation makes sense. If Will Bower hadn't provided his own people with an explanation, there probably would have been an internal coup.

She also maintains that the Clinton Campaign Debt FAQ was written independently of Will Bower and she used the $6-$10 million figure because nobody was sure how much money had been raised and she (personally) believed it was possible that they could have reached that figure. Again, I am taking grlpatriot at her word on this point because I believe she is an honest person.

Finally, grlpatriot has pointed out that they are not professional political operatives, so they should be expected to make mistakes. Fair enough, rookies make mistakes, but that does not account for why Will Bower has not taken an opportunity to clarify his misleading statements on Hillary's debt. He's had numerous opportunities. Frankly, I think that political operatives, as they become more experienced, learn how to avoid saying "I was wrong."

In the end, I should not have implied that grlpatriot was being dishonest, especially without having spoken to her first, and for that, I apologize. However, I stand by my criticism of Will Bower. And I believe that the PUMAs were wrong to take Thursday's diary so personally. Will Bower is a public figure and he chose to make himself a public figure. He has given me no reason to believe that he is anything other than a dishonest, political opportunist looking to cash in on Hillary's name and defeat Barack Obama for the most selfish of reasons, fame. I'm not going to pull punches when someone is trying to put an anti-gay, anti-female, pro-war, Scalia-loving wingnut in the White House just to feed his ego.

So I repeat myself: If you don't like what I wrote, prove that I'm wrong.


atdnext said...

Thanks for the follow up, Drew. You're quite the detective! :-)

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