- The Trump campaign has launched an internal audit of spending irregularities during Brad Parscale’s tenure as campaign manager.
- Jeff DeWit, the 2020 campaign’s chief operating officer, confirmed the spending review but said it wasn’t specifically focused on Parscale.
- “We want an effective and efficient organization, and we’re certainly not targeting anybody,” DeWit told Insider. “We don’t like to see a single dollar fly out of the campaign without knowing where it’s going.”
- Other Republicans familiar with the effort said the audit inherently homes in on Parscale, who was demoted earlier this week, because he controlled all campaign spending.
- “He brought in DeWit because Trump was so sick of hearing how much money Parscale was making,” a Republican familiar with the arrangement said.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is conducting an internal review of spending irregularities overseen by Brad Parscale, its recently demoted 2020 campaign manager, Insider has learned.
Jeff DeWit, an accountant and former chief financial officer of NASA who recently joined the Trump 2020 effort as its chief operating officer, confirmed in an interview Friday that he was reviewing all campaign contracts and examining all spending.
While DeWit said the review wasn’t specifically focused on Parscale, other Republicans familiar with the effort said it inherently homes in on the top Trump aide because he controlled all campaign spending, from polling and advertising to voter surveys, during a tenure that started in January 2017.
“We want an effective and efficient organization, and we’re certainly not targeting anybody,” DeWit told Insider. “We don’t like to see a single dollar fly out of the campaign without knowing where it’s going.”
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner hired DeWit at the end of June to review the campaign’s operations, and DeWit immediately began scrutinizing the campaign’s spending and arrangements with vendors.
“He brought in DeWit because Trump was so sick of hearing how much money Parscale was making,” one Republican familiar with the arrangement said.
Trump demoted Parscale Wednesday night, formally elevating Bill Stepien to the role of campaign manager. Trump’s anger over the profits Parscale had been making off the campaign had been building for months, Republicans said, but the final straw came after Trump read a Washington Post story that said Parscale had been running the campaign poolside from Florida.
The ‘$10 million man’
Trump’s anger at Parscale has been building since last year after he learned his campaign manager was living a lavish lifestyle built off riches he’d made working for the president. Trump has made offhand references to Parscale as the “$10 million man” — something viewed as derisive but also accepting of Parscale.
“There are two things you cannot do with Trump: take credit for his accomplishments and steal from him,” a friend of the president said.
At the end of June, not long after Trump’s campaign held a poorly attended rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, amid the coronavirus pandemic, donors including Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus complained to Trump that the campaign had no strategy. The president responded by tasking Kushner with coming up with a plan to fix the 2020 effort.
“They built a campaign for an easy reelection, which they would have had with the booming economy,” the Trump friend said. “But they did not have a campaign built for a tight race.”
That’s when Kushner decided to hire DeWit — a reprisal of the role he played in 2016.
During that first White House campaign, Trump tasked DeWit and Allen Weisselberg, his longtime personal account and namesake company’s chief financial officer, with reviewing spending by ousted campaign chiefs Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort. When Steve Bannon came on the Trump campaign, Kushner withheld control of the budget from him, according to a former aide on the 2016 campaign.
Parscale did not respond to requests for comment about the 2020 spending audit. But he posted a tweet attacking the press just minutes before this story published online
“The media is a criminal network that has very few honest people. They have zero intention to tell the truth. I have seen so many live in fear of a negative story,” Parscale wrote. “I am happy I get to continue to fight with @realDonaldTrump against America’s biggest enemy, the media!”
A Trump campaign spokesperson also didn’t answer requests for comment, though Stepien issued a statement about an hour after the article posted.
“The Business Insider story is categorically false and the only on-the-record source confirms that no audit of Brad Parscale is taking place,” Stepien said.
“Jeff DeWit was clearly speaking to his efforts to prepare our budget for the duration of the campaign, but that didn’t matter for the poor man’s gossip columnist writing this story,” he added. “Brad remains a senior member of our team and we are pleased with his contributions to President Trump’s reelection effort.”
‘They’re doing the full autopsy because the president is pissed’
It’s not abnormal for presidential campaigns to conduct internal audits of campaign spending, Republicans familiar with the current review and previous campaigns said.
“Jeff is building the budget and tightening up operations with Brad,” a senior Trump administration official said. “This is not a review of Brad.”
But other Republicans said the review stemmed from Trump’s anger at Parscale’s hefty profits from the campaign.
“They’re doing the full autopsy because the president is pissed,” a second Republican close to the campaign and White House said.
The Republican said Parscale’s actions had raised concerns because he’d been approving spending that ultimately went to himself. “You can’t have your campaign manager be your biggest vendor,” he said.
In particular, DeWit is reviewing contracts with vendors that Parscale approved to see how the money got spent and examine how much Parscale made off each contract, one Republican familiar with the review said.
DeWit said he was not looking specifically at Parscale and did not know when he would complete his review of the campaign finances.
Nobody interviewed by Insider said they believed Parscale had broken any laws or that DeWit was searching for any criminal violations. Instead, they said Trump does this routinely after he ousts one of his campaign managers. In this case, the audit is directed at ensuring Parscale wasn’t milking the president for too much money.