Malkin’s “JAW-Dropping Political Miracle” Provides Big Fees For BMW Direct

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The Devil is in the details, as they say.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin was breathlessly celebrating in yesterday’s New York Post about how much money Republican Congressional candidate William Russell has been raising this year.

Never heard of him? You’re not alone. Russell is challenging Rep. John Murtha for his Pennsylvania House seat, which is considered among the safest Democratic seats in the country.

Malkin was pointing out Russell’s “JAW-dropping political miracle” in campaign fundraising. Indeed, Russel has raised almost $1 million so far this election cycle, a huge pull no doubt.

But guess who helps Russell run his massive, nationwide direct-mail fundraising efforts? Our old friends over at BMW Direct.

Russell is perfect for BMW Direct, which often raises tons of cash for candidates who look good on glossy mailers but ultimately spends nearly all the money raised on expenses related to the fundraising effort itself.

Lt. Col. William Russell is a clean-cut Army veteran who served in Iraq, the Gulf War and at the Pentagon on 9/11, according to a campaign Web site.

Malkin claims there’s been a “great media wall of silence around Russell’s upstart campaign.” OK, let’s break that silence and take a close look.

In the most recent quarter Russell raised $669,534, almost all from out-of-state donors who presumably are on BMW Direct’s list of self-styled conservatives with a good track record of responding to direct-mail fundraising.

At the same time, he spent $442,990, almost all of it on expenses related to the direct mail effort and paid to BMW Direct and its affiliates (some of which share the same downtown Washington office).

The only expenses that appear to be spent on an actual campaign totaled about $20,000 for Web site design, a low-budget video and a campaign consultant based in Pennsylvania rather than Washington.

He reports having $269,953 in cash on hand. But he also reports debts totaling $242,521 — almost all for direct mail expenses to BMW Direct and its vendors.

So that leaves him only about $27,431 ahead — not much for a guy who’s raised a total of nearly $1 million this election cycle.

Meanwhile, Malkin suggests that Murtha is in trouble since he only “scraped together a measly $119,000.” But Murtha isn’t running a direct mail campaign with BMW Direct, so he actually has money left over to spend on things like renting a campaign office back in the 12th District.