January 29, 2004

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out Mr. Trippi,

and good luck staying out of jail while you're at it...

Buried in the bottom of this NYT article is this factoid:

Some questioned the arrangements by which Mr. Trippi forfeited a salary as a campaign manager but collected commissions said to be as high as 15 percent in some cases based on advertising buys.

Say what?

The Mr. Trippi in question was until a couple days ago Howard Dean's campaign manager. He lead the internet hype, and he also blew threw $40 million dollars. And here he is getting 10-15% of each and every ad buy? Holy shit, wake up Mr. Media, that's a freaking story.

I've been wary of Trippi ever since I read (and posted) this article. The man was way to deep in the daytrading biz, alarm bell ringing in every direction. But the Dean campaign was blowing up er, an internet stock, so I held back. Part of me just wanted to be wrong. The other part hoped the bubble wouldn't pop until after the presidential election, after all the Bush team blows even more hot air then Trippi. But now that the Dean campaign seems to be doing about as well as the last stock Trippi hyped, its clear I hoped too much.

And Trippi? I don't know but it looks to me like he just scammed Dean big and hard. "I'll take the job, no salary" cool, but "all I want is a cut of the ad buys" ok sounds fair if you don't think too hard. Think again. Mofo is in charge of the ad buys. The more he buys the more he pockets. Repeat after me, the more ads Trippi buys the more money he makes. I sort of feel sorry for Dean cause he just got played and played hard, but damn that's just dumb.

The upside? The other candidates hopefully haven't made the same mistakes. And Dean/Trippi showed them how to raise more cash then they ever could before. Onward to November my friends, there will be plenty more drama for your enjoyment along the way.

Posted by Abe at January 29, 2004 01:20 PM


The arrangement Trippi had was not unusual, hence the lack of a story. Campaign managers in high profile races often get a percentage of the ad buys instead of a salary. 10-15% is standard. Just like an advertising agency.

Trippi did the best he could with a much less than perfect candidate.


Probably true, but its still a sketchy situation, no? The more ads he buys the more money in his pocket? That's a positive feedback loop, unless of course the manager has the integrity to make strategic decisions that put the money places that don't pay off.

What might be the missing link in all this is the shear size of the Dean campaign fund. Its bigger then any campaign except the 04 presidential and maybe 96. In an average senate campaign and possibly even a federal fund limited presidential one, its just not worth it to squeeze the candidate for ad percentage and risk losing victory goodwill, which of course brings more cash in the door. But with 40 million at play, suddenly making bad ad buying runs that grease the pocket equals real big money.

Regardless of how you cut it, its sketchy business, but of course that's par the course when it comes to power...

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