'It’s a racket': Failed GOP candidate rages after vendors pocketed millions off sketchy fundraising video

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published a damning analysis of how a GOP consulting firm pocketed millions from the campaign of Kim Klacik, a heavily-touted GOP candidate who ran an unsuccessful long-shot bid in a heavily blue district of Baltimore, Maryland last year.

Klacik received national attention and a prime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention after a viral online ad featuring her walking through run-down neighborhoods of Baltimore and claiming that Democrats had abandoned the city's Black residents. The ad was even touted by former President Donald Trump.

But according to the report, Klacik only learned after the fact that the vendors who helped her create and promote the spot would be taking most of the money she raised off it.

"The company that produced the video, Arsenal Media Group, would take a cut. And a firm hired to promote the video, Olympic Media, would keep up to 70 percent of the money it generated, some of which was not disclosed in Klacik's initial campaign finance filings," reported Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer. "Her campaign is an example of how some consulting firms are profiting handsomely from Republican candidates who have robust appeal in today's politically charged environment — even when they are running in deep-blue districts where it is virtually impossible for them to win. The more viral the candidate goes, the more money the companies make — a model possible only through the online outrage machine of hyperpartisan politics."

Klacik herself was reportedly outraged and felt ripped off. "When I saw it, I almost passed out," she said. "I actually lost sleep over this. These companies — it's a racket. Unfortunately, this is why we ask people to send us checks directly to our P.O. box." Some of her GOP donors are also enraged, with Bruce Dale of Michigan — whose $800 check to her may have gone entirely to vendors — saying, "It sounds like part of the swamp that needs to be drained."

It is highly unlikely Klacik would have won even if she had been able to keep all the money for campaigning, as the district, represented by Rep. Kweisi Mfume, votes about 26 points more Democratic than the nation as a whole.