A man hired to help launch Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign says he never was properly paid and questions $208,000 given to a phantom company with a name nearly identical to his organization.
The allegations, first reported by the website Buzzfeed, are the latest from Huntsman consultants upset at the slow pace he has paid off campaign debt after his bid for the White House ended with his third place showing in New Hampshire.
But this is the first complaint associated with Horizon PAC, the political action committee based in Utah that acted as Huntsman’s campaign-in-waiting when he was still the ambassador to China.
New York-based marketing consultant Steve Goldberg said he signed a one-year deal worth $10,000 per month, but only received $20,000 in payments to his company, Bahm Marketing, in early 2011 before chief strategist John Weaver moved in another direction.
Campaign reports filed by Horizon PAC show that another $208,000 went to "For Bahm Marketing" in 2011. Goldberg said he never received that money and Buzzfeed reported that the company doesn’t exist in the comprehensive listings compiled by LexisNexis.
While Weaver told BuzzFeed that the money did indeed go to Goldberg, Tim Riester later emailed to say that the money went to Weaver’s company Network.
"The Network Companies managed and completed the scope of work it was assigned," Riester said in an email.
Goldberg told The Tribune that he didn’t know what happened.
"I don’t know what to say about Weaver," Goldberg told The Tribune. "They never paid me my fees for their marketing. I don’t feel like I was properly compensated for my work at all."
Utah election officials plan to look into the matter to see if there is any wrongdoing.
"We’ll do an initial review of it," said Mark Thomas, who works in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. "And if it goes any farther than that, we will get the Attorney General Office involved."
Federal financial disclosures released earlier this week show that Huntsman, Utah’s former governor, loaned his campaign another $1.5 million to help pay off its debts.
After that money went to consultants and vendors, his debt dropped to $1.3 million, the highest among former GOP contenders. The slow pace has frustrated former campaign workers who told Politico that they considered suing Huntsman. Abby Huntsman Livingston, who is acting as his spokesman, says her father will continue to pay down his debt, but had no comment on the Horizon PAC payments.
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