Why did God create Kemper Freeman Jr.? Somebody’s got to pay retail.

When it became apparent two weeks ago that Kemper Freeman Jr. was no longer paying for signatures on Initiative 883, I assumed it was because he had gathered all he needed. Thus it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that Junior had actually pulled the initiative: “Freeway initiative campaign takes exit.” (And kudos to the Seattle Times for not calling it a “car-pool initiative.”)

I-883 had been one of the season’s best financed initiative campaigns… most of it Junior’s money. With virtually unlimited personal funds, and a dishonest yet misleading quarter-truth of a sales pitch (“this initiative opens HOV lanes to everybody,”) I-883 seemed certain to reach the ballot.

But I should have been paying closer attention to the PDC filings. The I-883 campaign turns out to be so grossly inefficient that it makes Tim Eyman look like he’s giving the EIC a good deal for their money. (He’s not.)

Of the over $320,000 spent through the end of may, only $42,000 is listed as going to “voter signature gathering,” while a whopping $190,000 was pissed away on “management & consulting services.” The only conclusion is that either the campaign has hidden signature gathering efforts under the wrong expense category, or that Junior was royally reamed by his consultants.

If he had hired me as a consultant I could have saved him about $189,000 by advising him to fire me and SPEND ALL HIS DAMN MONEY ON SIGNATURES!

This calls into question the campaign’s claim that they had gathered half the 197,000 required signatures. With a street price of a buck each, the firms had to be charging at least $2.00… and with Junior’s penchant for paying retail, probably much, much more. So it is unlikely they collected more than a tenth the required number.

This also calls into question Junior’s business acumen, and begs the larger question of why we should trust this man to re-prioritize our state’s multi-billion dollar transportation budget when he can’t even prioritize a few hundred thousand dollars in campaign expenditures.

If our transportation spending were to follow Junior’s blueprint, for every $1 billion in new roads we’d spend $4.5 billion on management and consulting fees.

Tim Eyman likes to say that government never reforms itself when it is “fat and happy.” Looking at the campaign finances of Tim, Junior and their fellow initiative sponsors, it looks like there is plenty of cheerful corpulence to go around.