Scams in the Internet Age tend to catch fire and burn out quickly, but former governor John Kasich’s campaign manager is still siphoning money from Kasich donors three years after his latest presidential campaign flopped.
John Weaver — who you may remember from Jon Huntsman’s 2012 quest to become King of New Hampshire — helped Kasich turn himself into a laughingstock with the brand of center-left “conservative” nagging that Weaver is known for. The media loved it; Republican primary voters, not so much.
As punishment for engineering a rake-stomping primary run that won only the state where Kasich was governor, Team Kasich….. kept paying Weaver $10,000 per month. From January 1, 2017 through November 26, 2018, the pro-Kasich “New Day for America” super PAC paid $231,104 to Weaver’s The Network Companies LLC.
Red Tack Strategies, co-founded by Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf, pulled down $95,500 from the super PAC during the same period.
What did New Day for America donors get for their money? Today, Kasich is a CNN commentator with an office at Otterbein University.
Weaver conned Kasich’s inner circle into paying him $10,000/month for two years to help Kasich land a gig at CNN by doing the same things he did in 2016 — criticizing Donald Trump, and shifting his stances on guns, healthcare, energy, labor, and abortion to the left. Hardly a formula for future Republican electoral success.
Under Weaver’s guidance, Kasich griped about President Trump withdrawing from the UN’s Paris Climate Agreement and groused about Trump backing out of Obama’s Iran Deal. Kasich spent 2017 lobbying against Obamacare repeal and in favor of DACA amnesty, and in 2018 Kasich called for an AR-15 ban.
As most people who follow politics would know even without forking over ten grand to John Weaver every month, a “conservative” former governor who pushes Democrats’ policy priorities can always keep busy on TV and the university speaking circuit, regardless of how comically his lectures about cooperation, fiscal responsibility, and tackling big problems clash with his record.
If Kasich thought he needed Weaver to leverage his waning influence into a cushy job upon reaching his term limit as governor, that would be one thing; it’s hard to feel sorry for donors who are still giving money to any operation John Weaver is involved in, and $600,000 of the $1 million New Day for America raised in 2017-18 came from four donors.
But as Allah and Reason’s Matt Welch have noted, hardly a day goes by that someone in the media — often someone at CNN — doesn’t speculate about Kasich running for president again in 2020. An interviewer begs Kasich to announce his campaign, Kasich plays dumb while saying “all options are on the table” or he’s “keeping the door open” or “waiting to see,” Weaver giggles on Twitter that maybe Kasich will primary Trump, and the cycle starts anew.
However many stupid things Trump says and does in the next year, it’s hard to imagine how Kasich would stand a chance in a Republican primary. Nonetheless, CNN brass seem to think Kasich is a contender, and they’re paying him to use their network as a platform. Maybe they think giving Kasich free airtime will work as well as it did when they boosted Trump during the 2016 primaries.
The morning of Feb. 15, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announced he was forming an exploratory committee for 2020. Within the hour, Team Kasich was winking and nudging reporters that, you know, Trump might have other competition in the GOP primary:
KASICH camp weighs in: “We have tremendous respect for Governor Weld and consider him a friend and kindred spirit. Having said that, perhaps we'll see him in New Hampshire before this is over.”
— Michael Levenson (@mlevenson) February 15, 2019
A few hours later, the Associated Press had a quote from Weaver:
Immediately after the 73-year-old Weld’s announcement at a breakfast event in New Hampshire, a senior aide for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich indicated Kasich is likely to launch a primary challenge as well.
“All of our options remain on the table, and we’re leaning toward a primary run,” Kasich aide John Weaver told The Associated Press.
Weaver is routinely identified in the press as a “senior strategist” or “top aide” to Kasich despite being paid by a super PAC that could not legally coordinate with the former governor or his campaign, if Kasich was officially running for office. Of course, Kasich’s 2020 campaign unofficially began in 2016, or he would have stopped paying John Weaver.