Skip to main content

Awkward: Carly Fiorina Confronted About Stiffing Debts From Losing Campaign

Maybe there is such a thing as bad press.

The Washington Post is out with a pretty damaging piece about Carly Fiorina's 2010 senate campaign failing to pay off its debts for years. That's not so unusual; as the report notes, Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign debt wasn't paid off until January of 2013. Aside from the fact that Fiorina's entire candidacy for president rests on her acumen as a businessperson, though, there are several other deadly details in the WaPo report. For example, Fiorina stiffed the widow of a leading pollster her campaign had used, even while she extended condolences:

Upon his death, Fiorina praised (Joe) Shumate as “the heart and soul” of her team. She issued a news release praising him as a person who believed in “investing in those he worked with” and offering her “sincerest condolences” to his widow.

But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president.

“Occasionally, I’d call and tell her she should pay them,” said Martin Wilson, Fiorina’s former campaign manager, who found Shumate after the pollster collapsed from a heart attack. “She just wouldn’t.”

The WaPo report is replete with on-the-record quotes from former Fiorina staffers, including this stunner, which should do wonders for her current campaign's staffing efforts:

“People are just upset and angry and throwing her under the bus,” said Jon Cross, Fiorina’s operations director for her Senate campaign. “If we didn’t win, why do you deserve to get paid? If you don’t succeed in business, you shouldn’t be the first one to step up and complain about getting paid.”

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire Monday, Fiorina was asked about the report, and conspicuously about whether she felt losing campaigns ought to pay up, and here's how she responded:

"You know, I don't think The Washington Post has much credibility anymore. They also said I wasn't a secretary."

Do you think that you shouldn't pay your staffers if you lose?

(painful silence)

Any explanation for why it took so long?

"All of the debt was paid off and everyone was paid in full, so once again, the Washington Post doesn't have a lot of credibility here."

Pro tip: you can ignore a question when everyone else is shouting them at you, but not when it can hang in the air like a wet fart.

As has become her habit, Fiorina's lying about the Post's fact-check of her "Secretary to CEO" story. Here's what they said:

She worked briefly as a secretary in between law school and business school, but she always intended to attend graduate school for her career.

That's really beside the point, though, because so much of the Post's reporting is on the record that it's impossible for anyone but the most die-hard Fiorina Kool-Aid drinker to ignore, and cuts deeply at her one supposed qualification for president. It's also a sign that Fiorina's political toolbox has yet to evolve beyond lying.