Beto O’Rourke Spends Millions on Consultants After Touting Consultant-Free Campaign

by Molly Prince

 

Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke spent millions of dollars on a consulting firm during the final stretch of the campaign despite repeatedly declaring that his campaign would not use any consultants.

O’Rourke, who is running for Senate in Texas against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, has been promoting his campaign as PAC-free, special interest-free and consultant-free since it first kicked off. O’Rourke told The Dallas Morning News in March 2017 he would not utilize poll-testing or be “consulting with consultants” and has repeated that claim at countless rallies and media events.

However, filings from the Federal Election Commission, first reported by Fox News Wednesday, show that O’Rourke’s campaign has been paying a consulting firm, Screen Strategies Media, almost $18 million during the last quarter.

“We don’t have a pollster, we don’t have consultants. We don’t use focus groups,” O’Rourke told The Dallas Morning News in February. “This is the power of the people, and you have shown so much — so much, so far.”

Only a month after O’Rourke spoke to The Dallas Morning News, the Texas Tribune revealed that the El Paso congressman had, in fact, hired two separate consulting firms prior to launching his campaign. At the time, he paid just under $30,000 to A.J. Goodman Consulting Corporation and Revolution Messaging, a firm instrumental in Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. O’Rourke justified the move by saying he hired such firms to assist in the “technical” aspects, but would continue to avoid consultants that would “sharpen [his] message.”

“I don’t have a pollster,” O’Rourke said at the time. “I don’t have a consultant who packages the message, tells me what to say, says, ‘This is what Texas believes,’ or ‘You’ve got to tack to the middle to get to them over here.’”

O’Rourke also seemingly walked back his pledge not to accept any money from political action committees (PACs). Since being in Congress, the anti-Zionist J Street PAC has raised over $170,000 on behalf of O’Rourke, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in July.

Emily Miller, a spokeswoman for Cruz, called on O’Rourke at the time to return the money to J Street. He did not.

“Rep. Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke travels all over Texas claiming that PACs are corrupt, and he’s made his alleged rejection of PAC influence a cornerstone of his campaign,” said Miller. “But now we know that O’Rourke’s actions have not matched his words, and he has accepted significant fundraising support from the extremist, yet influential, anti-Israel J Street PAC to aid his candidacy.”

O’Rourke’s campaign did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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Molly Prince is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.  Follow Molly on Twitter.
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