Written by Maggie Astor
Compared with the $25 million fundraising hauls that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren reported in the third quarter of 2019, everyone else’s totals were bound to seem small. But the other Democratic presidential candidates might take some solace in the fact that they are doing better than Wayne Messam.
Messam — the mayor of Miramar, Florida, who is in fact, contrary to appearances, still running for president — reported raising $5 from July through September.
Yes, you read that right: five (5) dollars, as in not enough money to buy a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte in New York City. But Messam’s campaign, against all odds, is still operating with a surplus, because according to its Federal Election Commission filing on Tuesday, it spent $0 in the third quarter.
Asked to confirm that the filing was accurate, Messam’s campaign wrote in an email, “We are dealing with a computer glitch. His IT Dept is working on it.”
If the numbers Messam submitted are incorrect, that wouldn’t be unprecedented; he submitted a corrected first-quarter report earlier this year after an accounting error led him to report raising nearly twice as much money as he actually had.
And as Carrie Levine, a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, first reported, Facebook’s advertising data shows that his campaign ran ads in August, which could mean he spent money in the third quarter after all. But it is also possible that Messam paid for those ads in the second quarter.
Messam has barely been active on the campaign trail, and his Twitter feed consists mostly of tweets about the Miramar High School football team and inspirational posts with hashtags like #TuesdayMotivation and #WednesdayWisdom. His website does not appear to have been updated in several months: Its donation section still refers to a threshold of 65,000 donors to make the next debate, but the requirement has been raised twice and is now at 165,000.
Former campaign employees and contractors have also accused Messam of failing to pay them, according to reporting by BuzzFeed News and The Miami New Times.
Messam reported about $43,500 in contributions in the first quarter and about $50,000 in the second quarter. Those numbers put him firmly at the back of the pack even before his dismal third-quarter filing.
According to his most recent report, he has about $31,000 cash on hand.