Clinton’s High-Priced Political Consultants

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 22, 2008 1:18pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Is Howard Wolfson worth 22 Robert Gibbses?

Wolfson and Gibbs are the communications directors for the remaining Democratic presidential contenders — Wolfson for  Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Gibbs for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

The latest campaign finance figures show that Wolfson was paid $266,000 for his services last month. Gibbs, meanwhile,  makes $144,000 a year — $12,000 a month, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on Friday

The two men come to their jobs with vastly different experiences and portfolios. Gibbs came straight from Obama’s  Senate office, while Wolfson is a more seasoned political operative who suspended a lucrative career in the private  sector to work for Clinton, whom he serves as a top-level adviser in addition to managing her communications  operations.

But the disparity in pay speaks to a larger truth about the Democratic race: Clinton is burning through money faster  than she can raise it, while Obama continues to sock cash away even while out-spending Clinton on advertising in key  states.

Obama raised $36 million in January, and spent $29.8 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the same month, Clinton raised $13.9 million and had to float herself a $5 million loan; she spent $27.7 million — just $2 million less than Obama, even though she was out-raised by more than a 2-1 margin.

And what she’s spending the money on is raising eyebrows. She spent $95,000 on groceries at a Hy-Vee discount supermarket in West Des Moines, Iowa — supplying her caucus supporters with deli trays, in a contest she ultimately lost to Obama.

The New York Times reported Friday that the firm of her top strategist, Mark Penn, has billed the campaign for more than $10 million in consulting, direct mail, and other services, including $3.8 million in January alone.

Obama has his high-priced consultants as well — top strategist David Axelrod’s firm has raked in $1.2 million so far — but Obama appears able to afford it: With a superior online fundraising operation, Obama continues to raise well in excess of $1 million a day, according to his campaign.

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