To be sure, Ben Carson is an accomplished pediatric neurosurgeon, which obviously means he’s intelligent. It’s just one of the qualities that make him so attractive to the conservative grassroots, which can look past his skin color because he makes the right culture war noises and he was unafraid to voice them in President Obama’s face that one time at a prayer breakfast.

It’s not hard to see why Carson’s veneer of intelligence delights reactionaries. For instance, see the above video in which Carson rationalizes his affection for creationism and other bunk pseudoscience. He’s had a steep learning curve on these issues, for they attract the evangelical right like flies to honey but don’t translate into mainstream acceptability anymore. You can’t compare gay marriage to pedophilia and bestiality, for example, or call the pope antichrist, and expect the Republican Party to rally to your standard these days.

Carson also seems to be having severe management issues, and his financial difficulties are indicative of a troubled campaign. Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that Carson has experienced friction with independent organizations that are ostensibly supposed to boost his campaign.

Two independent super PACs designed to help Carson are instead competing directly with Carson’s campaign for donations and volunteers, while campaign chairman Terry Giles resigned last month with the intention of forming a third super PAC.

Giles said he intends to try to convince the other two super PACs, called Run Ben Run and One Vote, to cease operations so that all outside efforts can be coordinated through the new group. But with Carson’s brand a galvanizing force on the right, there are potentially millions of dollars to be raised off his name, and the other super PACs are said to be reluctant to shut down.

“They are going after the same small donors, and we’ve simply got to figure this out or else we are going up against each other the whole time,” Giles said. “I’m planning to sit down with them and explain that.”

Conservatives can’t pretend not to see this anymore. Carson fans should have understood this contradiction since at least February, when conservative blogger John Hawkins published a remarkable exposé of the sheer scammery that goes on in conservative political organizations, often while using the candidate’s name, in a circle of scam that wastes tens of millions of dollars a year in grassroots money without helping candidates one little bit.

Did you know that despite the fact that it raised a staggering 13 million dollars, The National Draft Ben Carson for President isn’t affiliated with Ben Carson and the small percentage of money it spent on independent expenditures didn’t go to him? Now you know why Ben Carson’s business manager, Armstrong Williams wouldn’t allow the group’s campaign director to take a picture with Carson and said, “People giving money think it’s going to Dr. Carson and it’s not. …Our hands are tied. We don’t want people exploited.”

The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee was also the standout fundraiser among super PACs in the first quarter of 2014, outstripping even Ready for Hillary, which means that even if both of the other organizations shut down as Giles wants, Carson will still be competing against one of the most successful fundraising outfits in the nation while it uses his name to raise unaccountable funds that will mainly be spent on themselves.

Yet here lies the rub: there are two federal agencies which could potentially do something about this state of affairs, but both have been defanged by conservative activism. The Federal Elections Commission is gridlocked by political ideology, while the IRS has recently been the target of an organized smear campaign by right wing political nonprofits whining about delays in their status approval. The latter nontroversy was ginned up to conceal the endemic fraud going on in conservative politics. Carson himself has touted personal conspiracy theories regarding an IRS audit and wants to abolish the agency altogether, which will surely not improve the situation.

Carson both resolves and exemplifies the cognitive dissonance of the political movement with which he identifies. On the one hand, conservatives love being able to vote for African Americans who master the culture war catechism — witness the enduring popularity of Alan Keyes among the Benghazi-obsessed set, for example. On the other hand, Carson opposes revitalizing the very agencies which, given the right mandate, could shut down or at least regulate the political fundraising organizations that are using his name to scam the very people who believe in his cause most strongly. Those grassroots donors are not a fungible commodity, but Carson is.

  • Quacker

    @ Matt Osborne: “… Carson fans should have understood this contradiction since at least February, when conservative blogger John Hawkins published a remarkable exposé of the sheer scammery that goes on in conservative political organizations, often while using the candidate’s name, in a circle of scam that wastes tens of millions of dollars a year in grassroots money without helping candidates one little bit.”

    Pure malarkey, codswallop, BS, …. The “research” and “findings” in the Jay Batman report referenced by Hawkins are incomplete at best and intentionally misleading at worst. I’m still trying to figure out what constitutes “independent expenditures,” or perhaps more importantly, the kinds of truly legitimate PAC expenditures that do not qualify for the “independent expenditures” label and why Batman didn’t include them in his report.
    The Batman report and the Hawkins article strongly imply that PAC donations are being misspent unless the money goes directly to a candidate or to a qualified “independent expenditure.” But that simply is not the whole story. Not even close. For example, at the time Hawkins wrote his column, Carson was NOT a candidate and so there wasn’t any legal way to contribute directly to Carson. (Hillary found a way to enhance her campaing resources through the Clinton Global Foundation, but that’s another story).

    I now find myself questioning the motives and the agenda(s) of Hawkins and you Mr. Osborne. I once considered Hawkins a respectable conservative commentator. I now find myself wondering if both of you are guilty of the same sin as those you accuse. What “scam” are you trying to perpetrate and for whom?

    • Sorry, but you’re incorrect about there not being a legal way to contribute to Mr. Carson. Just like with the others in the GOP race who have not declared, each maintained SuperPACs which were permitted to collect contributions on their behalf. One of the best articles I’ve ever seen from Hawkins was on how these contributions are misused to fatten consultants’ wallets. The SuperPACs were created to round up small donors and create mailing lists to rent out to other campaigns. They coordinated with Carson up to the day he declared, and then, at least officially, stopped coordinating with him and his campaign at which time every dollar they spend must be spent as an independent expenditure or in support of a candidate.

      We haven’t yet seen those reports, because they are not due until the end of this month.

      Finally, Hillary Clinton did not enhance her campaign resources through the Clinton Foundation any more than Romney enhanced his through his family foundation. It does, however, make for a good meaty lie to dish out to ignorant people.

    • Before you question my ethics, Mr. Volz, you might want to disclose your own relationship to Run Ben Run.

      http://www.2016committee.org/donvolz

      Also, if you’re going to invent a conspiracy theory where I’m supposedly scamming people, please be sure to forward me some of those super PAC profits to at least create the appearance of your having a point. I refuse to be the subject of paranoid ramblings or works of deluded fiction anymore unless I receive proper compensation for the use of my name, m’kay?

  • ORAXX

    Being a neurosurgeon doesn’t make you an expert on anything but neurosurgery. Being smart, even being educated, doesn’t mean you have in intellect if all you can do is recite what you’ve learned in school, and never learn to develop an independent thought. Carson is one dimensional.