Newt’s Expensive High Tech Win

Is anyone truly surprised to find that profligate spender and putative GOP presidential front runner Newt Gingrich has spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars on his ho-hum candidate website? Karoli at Crooks and Liars:

According to his third quarter report, the campaign made weekly payments of $10,000 to High Tech Win, LLC for “website development”, with the exception of two payments in July for $20,000 each. The total paid in the third quarter to this vendor was $120,000. In the second quarter, the campaign paid $120,000 on June 13th, $50,000 on May 12th, $50,000 on May 17th, and $65,000 on May 26th for a total of $285,000. Remarkably, he had a total balance due of $497,059.90 at the end of the second quarter.

Nearly $500,000 to one vendor for website management? And that’s not everything he spent on site development. He paid Rackspace $18,000 in the second quarter for hosting services, and a company called VM Media, Inc $210,250 for Q2 “website management”. VM Media appears to be a company specializing in social media consulting run by Jim Eustace which specializes in microtargeting. Over $200,000 seems like a lot to pay for that, but at least it appears to be a legit operation.

On the other hand, High Tech Win, LLC is far more confusing. Here is a company profile. It describes High Tech Win, LLC as an appliance and home remodeling company? That doesn’t sound like web development. High Tech Win’s principal is H. Dale Langley, Jr., an Austin intellectual property lawyer.

Finally, there were payments of $14,070 to 5EI, LLC for website development in the third quarter. This number sounds far closer to a realistic amount to pay for a candidate website. Adobe Systems was paid $14,448 in the third quarter, too.

As I write, I can’t get the site to load.

Thing is, Newt’s always had plenty of money to throw around. Case on point, the $1.6 to $1.8 million he was paid by Freddie Mac to provide counsel on public policy issues.

Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist, explains that Newt was not a lobbyist, “There was no expectation that he would do any lobbying, and he did not do any lobbying.”

No, Newt provided wink strategic advice. Advice like suggesting Freddie Mac initiate a program with the Boy Scouts of America to teach youngsters the importance of saving money and maintaining good credit so they would qualify to buy a home later in life. That idea the mortgage lender never took up.

The Big Picture’s Barry Ritholtz, noting that Gingrich has previously said that “You ought to start with Barney Frank when talking about people to put in jail . . . Go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at Freddie Mac,” upgrades Newt from “Pompous Blowhard” to “Hypocritical Liar.”

A Newt candidacy is always good fun. As front-runner he is sure to provide us with plenty of blog-fodder in the coming weeks.