Jim Webb — born sponging

Jim Webb reportedly is fixing to run a fiery populist campaign for president. That campaign, if it materializes, will not be helped by the fact that he gave nearly $100,000 from his PAC, “Born Fighting,” to members of his family.

“Born Fighting” supposedly is dedicated to backing “candidates and entities” who support economic fairness, “reorienting our national security posture,” and developing greater accountability in government. But Business Insider reports that, according to the Federal Election Commission, Webb’s PAC, which received nearly $1 million in donations, gave a relatively small portion of that money to political candidates and groups. And, again according to Business Insider, “Born Fighting” essentially ceased political activities after 2010.

Since then, however, the PAC has continued to pay members of Webb’s family. In fact, most of the $92,000 that “Born Fighting” paid to Webb’s wife and daughter was funneled to them after it had ceased making contributions to politicians and political groups.

According to Business Insider, Amy Webb Hogan, Webb’s daughter, began receiving money from her father’s PAC in 2009, when she earned $2,000 for “website consulting services.” In each year from 2010 through 2012 she received $12,000 for the same purpose.

Last year, Webb Hogan received $14,500 from the committee, of which $1,000 was for “website services reimbursement.” Yet, according to Business Insider the website not updated at all during this period except for a two-sentence note thanking donors for their “past support.”

Hong Le Webb, the populist’s third wife, was first paid by “Born Fighting” in 2008 when she received $253.37 for travel expenses. She did not receive any money from the committee again until this year. As of last month, she had been paid just under $15,000.

All but around $1,000 of that amount was listed in the reports as compensation for “website services.” But, as noted, the website was not updated this year.

Hong Le Webb also received nearly $700 for travel expenses, and $335 as “reimbursement” for a P.O. Box. But Business Insider says that no records show “Born Fighting” ever having been based at a P.O. Box.

Hong Le Webb is a securities and corporate lawyer, according to Jim Webb’s wikipedia bio.

“Born Fighting’s” website was redesigned in June of this year. Around that time, Webb paid a professional firm $10,000. Presumably, it was the professional firm, not Webb’s lawyer wife or daughter, who redesigned the website.

How much money did “Born Fighting” spend in support of its stated mission of helping candidates and groups? According to Business Insider, only $200,000. According to a Democratic operative who spoke to Business Insider, these sorts of PACs “generally contribute 40% to 60% of the money they receive” to other candidates and groups.

At slightly above 20 percent, “Born Fighting” came up well short of this standard. As Business Insider concludes, the PAC seems to have had relatively high overhead even though the records show it did not have office space and barely employed paid staffers apart from Webb’s wife and daughter.

Webb clearly has some explaining to do. However, he did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comments.

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