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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Randle’



Team eMeg Grabs the Green, Proves They’re Yellow

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Not since Vice President Dick Cheney hid out in the “secret” bunker under the old U.S. Naval Observatory following the attacks of 9/11 have we seen an act of political cowardice as brazen as the announced refusal by Meg Whitman’s lavishly paid loser consultants to show up at the upcoming post-election debriefing sponsored by the Institute of Governmental Studies at Berkeley.

Well, maybe that’s unfair to Cheney. He had an excuse: the military and Secret Service insisted on protecting the chain of command in the face of uncertainty.

But Henry Gomez, Mike Murphy, Rob Stutzman, Jeff Randle, Mitch Zak, Jilian Hasner, Tucker Bounds and Sarah Pompei have no such excuse. Especially our friend Murph, who was paid a $1 million signing bonus (masquerading as an investment in his film company) and $60,000 a month, plus what else we’ll know when the final financial report is released.

“I don’t think we’re going to go,” Stutzman told the L.A. Times. “It’s self-indulgent, by self-important scholars and journalists. It is what it is.”

No, this is what it is: the logical extension of eMeg’s infamous statement to her housekeeper, Nicky Diaz: “You don’t know me and I don’t know you.” Chickenshit, dismissive arrogance.

Since its inception after the 1990 campaign, IGS “has brought together the state’s politicos after each gubernatorial election,” wrote Ethan Rarick in the preface to the book on the 2006 conference. “At the center of the conference are the consultants and staff members who ran the major campaigns, but the event also draws the state’s most involved and observant pollsters, political journalists and political scientists. For two days, the Berkeley campus becomes the center of the state’s political universe, a hotbed of debate and discussion about California and its voters.

“The sessions – open to the public and on the record – are videotaped, and the transcript is then edited into a readable and cohesive form. Published as a book, the conference proceedings serve as the principal historical record of California gubernatorial campaigns.”

Never before has a major campaign failed to represent itself at the conference. Moreover, the 2010 governor’s race – with eMeg’s unprecedented spending (we expect it’ll tilt the scales at $180 million, when all is said and done) – cries out to be studied, dissected, analyzed and understood.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown’s team will be there. That will be worthwhile. But truth be told, Steve Glazer, Sterling Clifford, Anne Gust Brown, Jim Moore, Joe Trippi and Krusty the General himself, all were pretty damn accessible and transparent during the campaign. If you had a question about strategy, tactics, intentions, fundraising, polling, whatever, they held back very little.

Maybe they’ll come clean about who called Whitman a “whore” for trading pension benefits for the support of police groups. (Although we guessed it was Anne and tried unsuccessfully to get her to break the news to us.) But we don’t expect to hear a lot of insider details that will alter how we saw their campaign unfold.

Team Whitman, on the other hand, was the most self-important, impenetrable political death star we’ve ever encountered in California politics. And that includes the fact that at least one of your Calbuzzers was frozen out in 1998 by the Al Checchi campaign altogether after writing the (unchallenged) history of his (mis)management of Northwest Airlines.

“It’s amazing to me that somebody [Murphy] would do five minutes on a national television program [Meet the Press] but won’t go back and forth with the California political writers,” said Democrat Roger Salazar, who managed the independent committee California Working Families for Jerry Brown. “Not showing up at one of the most respected forums in California politics is cowardly. You’d think that $60,000 a month would buy you some guts.”

Gomez has no history in California politics. He was eMeg’s lapdog at eBay and was her No. 1 horse whisperer during the race. But Murphy, the longtime strategist who put presidential would-be Lamar Alexander in a Pendleton back in 1996, was the chief political professional in the Armies of eMeg – the only one who had private time with Whitman in the backstage green rooms at all three debates, for example.

He’s not talking about his reasons for not showing up. Which leaves Stutzman as the next most senior strategist to comment. “There’s a lot of things people are going to ask that we’re never going to disclose — and that are none of their business,” he told the S.F. Chronicle the other day.

In other words: fuck you, you fucking fucks.

The Team Whitman principals deny they have non-disclosure agreements that are keeping them from discussing the internal workings of the campaign (although their agreements could require them to deny they exist). Which suggests their refusal really is just about cowardice and arrogance.

Frankly, we don’t get it. It would be in Team Whitman’s interest to justify their decisions and defend their performance. Otherwise, the journalists, scholars and politicos will have to depend on Whitman’s opponents and neutral analysts to explain:

– Why the best they could do — with unprecedented campaign resources, a raging pro-Republican year and a retread 72-year-old opponent – was 10 points more than GOP registration.
– What were their strategic and tactical goals at various points throughout the campaign? How did they craft their messages? What data did they rely on?
– Who knew what and when about Nicky Diaz? What was their initial plan to deal with Whitman’s lack of a voting history? Why did they decide not to emphasize her family?
– How did they intend to overcome the Democratic registration advantage? What did they think Brown’s greatest weaknesses were? Why could they never sustain a message about the issues? What was the effect of the independent expenditure campaigns against Whitman during the summer?
– Who made the decision to shield Whitman from California political writers? What happened to their much-vaunted voter-targeting strategy? How much of their media experimentation was just a test run for future clients? How come they couldn’t help any other Republican candidates?

These are just a few of the questions Team eMeg won’t be answering anytime soon. But Rarick, who runs the program at IGS, is holding out hope that the Whitman campaign will be represented.

“We would be delighted if Ms. Whitman wants to attend personally. I was surprised to see Rob Stutzman quoted on the Chronicle’s blog to the effect that Ms. Whitman was not consulted on the decision to skip the conference,” he told us in an email. “I think it is incumbent upon us to make every possible effort to allow the Whitman campaign to defend itself, and thus although candidates do not normally participate directly in this conference, we have reached out this morning and invited Ms. Whitman to attend personally and participate on the panels. We’d be delighted if she would like to attend.”

As for Calbuzz, we’d still like to have dinner with Meg.

Consumer’s Guide to eMeg’s Empire; Debate Round II

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

In a bold attempt to go where no one has gone before, some of Jerry’s Kids, using campaign finance reports and information from the web, have pieced together an org chart of the Armies of eMeg Whitman for Governor campaign – that massive, impenetrable bureaucracy that is responsible for spending (and receiving) something approaching $150 million of eMeg’s money.

Counting people up, across and over (which sometimes puts people in more than one sector of the Invasion of Normandy graphic) we find eight people in scheduling and advance, 10 staff and consultants in policy, 16 in coalitions, 16 in field operations, 27 in fund-raising and finance and 24 in communications, including eight in the research group.

“In the green box marked ‘Miscellaneous Campaign Staff,’ there are an additional four staffers who have made more than $100,000 from Whitman, and we have no idea what they’re doing,” Brown’s research director told Calbuzz.

Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer likens Whitman’s campaign to a massive aircraft carrier that is stalled in the middle of the ocean, floating listlessly, unable to gain momentum despite spending millions and millions and millions on TV and radio advertising, internet communications, mail, telephone banks, fundraising, event planning and execution – you name it, USS eMeg has paid for it.

Whether that’s an accurate portrayal of a campaign operation with no equal in the history of California is still uncertain. This we know: No governor’s office we’re aware of ever had such a massive org chart, unless you count all the agencies and departments that are part of an administration and the CHP protective detail.

Also, no one in a governor’s office ever made this kind of money: strategist Mike Murphy’s Bonaparte Productions, $861,474; adviser Henry Gomez, $769,216; campaign manager Jilian Hasner, $667,552; adviser Jeff Randle, $572,949; security director John Endert, $261,682; communications director Tucker Bounds, $293,349; press secretary Sarah Pompei, $154,872; yadayadayada. That’s not even all the big-tick items and it’s only up to the most recent financial reporting period.

Another Calbuzz blow for truth, justice and the American way. We report, you decide.

China in a bull shop: In sifting the detritus of Wednesday night’s big Senate debate, we hereby declare that the wrong-headed wags who described it as a “dud” or “boring” apparently  tuned in to the wrong channel, and were watching the Dodgers game or something.

All right-thinking persons agree that Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer both were strong, smart and sharp in acquitting themselves favorably in the debate, and that their relentless, tough but civil exchanges made for one of the more impressive such events in recent memory (given the state of our short-term recall facility, of course).

That said, the rivals also each owned their fair share of foibles and fumbles, even if they did manage to avoid making utter fools of themselves. Here’s a look at some lowlights for each:

Hurricane blowing in the wind: Fiorina’s thoroughly baffling refusal to publicly endorse Prop. 23 – a stance that can only anger conservative backers while earning her exactly zero props from the anti-greenhouse gas gang – has already been well chronicled and chewed over here and here (don’t miss the part where she says, “look, I’m not trying to be evasive here”).

As lame as her performance on climate change was, the much under-reported nadir of her night came at the post-debate press conference, when she engaged in a cringeworthy colloquy with the Sacbee’s Dan Morain on the subject of China. Peering over his little gold spectacles and speaking in a gentle voice, Morain hooked Carly like a fish, asking her, in effect, what such a champion of capitalism and liberty as herself found so appealing about an authoritarian communist-run state as a place to do business.

Q: You spoke favorably about China and what China has done to create jobs. Is- are there things that China does that you think California ought to do?

A: Absolutely. China has done wonderful things to create jobs. Let’s start with the fact that they created things called ‘special economic zones’. Now we have things that are called something similar here in California, but we didn’t follow through with policies that actually create jobs….

I have called for the creation of something similar called “Jobs for American Zones”, and in those “Jobs for American Zones” we would give very specific tax cuts and tax credits…to hire American workers we would use the power of the federal government to cut through regulation and we would make sure that we are rewarding innovation.

Every single one of those things I just mentioned, China rewards innovation better than we do…and if you ask a manufacturer how easy it is to build a new manufacturing plant here in California what they’ll tell you it has become virtually impossible because of the taxes they have to pay and the thicket of permits and regulations they have to go through. So yes, let’s learn from what the Chinese have done.

Q: Well, well China has very different rules as relates to labor and human rights and things like that

A: And I certainly do not suggest that we follow Chinese rules on labor. That is not why most companies go to China…certainly technology companies are not going to China for the cost of labor. That’s a very small piece of the cost of a technology manufacturing plant.

To recap:

1-Personnel costs: negligible business expense.
2-Shortage of child labor laws and environmental regs: no discernible benefit to balance sheet.
3-60 hour work weeks at 60 cents an hour (and they pay us for the bed they sleep in, boss!):  no big deal to bottom line.

Please remove your shoes and AK-47s while going through security: We also were scratching our heads over Carly’s line of attack accusing Boxer of not having authored enough legislation; we always thought conservatives were pretty much in favor of that whole…governs best which  governs least thing, no?

Simply put, isn’t breathing fire about excess regulation and then ripping your opponent for not writing enough bills sort of like complaining the restaurant food’s lousy and the portions are too small?

Let’s leave that one off the highlight reel: Another iCarly low moment came with her sputtering defense of her previous statements of support for the sacred Second Amendment rights of folks who appear on the government’s post-9/11 don’t-fly list, a dumb and  unnecessary pander to right-wing primary voters that she’s now stuck with.

Calbuzz debate hint: As a general rule, fighting from a deep defensive crouch while desperately trying to explain that you really didn’t mean to say that terrorists have an unalienable right to bear arms is only rarely an effective tactic. (And don’t get us started on her stirring call for We the People to throw off the shackles of government so we can all walk the streets, heads held high, free men armed to the teeth with assault rifles and criss-crossed bandoliers of ammo).

Who’s on first: It was an interesting coincidence that Boxer also managed to screw the pooch on the arms-for-dangerous-airline travelers issue.

Presented with a big ole’ hanging curve ball she should have belted into the third deck, Babs only hit a weak foul ball in her response on the matter. Rather than portraying Hurricane as a dangerous extremist intent on arming jihadis, Babs inexplicably lurched off into a nonsensical riff about how, uh, my opponents position on this issue, coming during a GOP primary debate a couple months ago, uh, really upset Tom Campbell, who, uh, almost never gets excited, but this time got so upset he said, “oh my” or something.

At which point living rooms all over California suddenly filled with conversations like:

Huh? Wot’d she say? Who’s Campbell? The soup?

No, dummy, the one running for Senate…

I thought it’s Fiorina’s running for Senate…

Oh. Yeah? Campbell’s for governor then…

No, Whitman’s for governor, the one makes the candy, not the soup…

Point of order, point of order: Babs also had no answer for Fiorina’s criticism (contradictory and politically self-canceling as it was) of her thin legislative record.

Every time Hurricane raised the issue, the junior Senator from California  started dithering about “a thousand Boxer measures” or a “thousand Boxer provisions,” language that no doubt is useful for chopping it up with the parliamentarian in the Senate cloakroom, but isn’t quite as compelling for what you might call your Real People.

Next up: Boxer’s thousand points of light…

Your slip is showing: Boxer’s worst gaffe came in her otherwise strong closing statement, which she screwed up by solemnly declaring that she is “fighting for taxes for the middle class and small business.”

Oops.

It didn’t take Babs manager Rose Kapolczynski,  always cool as the other side of the pillow, to issue one of those “What Senator Boxer meant to say” statements:

Throughout the debate, Barbara Boxer described the importance of tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class.  In her closing statement, she skipped a word mistakenly saying that she is “fighting for taxes for the middle class and small business” rather than fighting for “tax cuts for the middle class and small business,” which her record clearly demonstrates.

Freud never sleeps.

Right Thinking: Musings of a True Conservative

Friday, June 18th, 2010

By Jon Fleischman
Special to Calbuzz

You kids get off my lawn! As a daily reader of Calbuzz, it’s easy to start calling Jerry Brown “Krusty.”  But lately he really has been living up to the name.

Between the Goebbels-Whitman comparison, and telling reporters that he’ll talk about his economic plans after he’s elected, you get the impression of a codger who should be retiring and taking it easy.  Certainly not someone running for the state’s top elective office.

Portsiders dominate the B minus: I was on a panel last Wednesday with Stuart Leavenworth, the opinion page editor of the Sacramento Bee, talking to a room full of Republican candidates.

It was rather amusing to hear him acknowledge to all assembled that the total number of Republicans on the Sacramento Bee editorial board is… zero.  But then again, if you keep an eye on their editorials, that isn’t too surprising.

The doctor is in: If the California Medical Association backs a Democrat pickup of Assembly District 5, where Republican Roger Niello is termed out, that means only one thing: the CMA is pushing for a two-thirds Democratic majority in the legislature.

The fact that a doctor is the Democratic candidate really is irrelevant.  The fact that Doctor Richard Pan is a hardcore liberal does matter.

Family feud: Either former Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines will be the GOP nominee for Insurance Commissioner, or he won’t.  But if he is, he will have a big challenge ahead of him.

Most Republicans supported Brian FitzGerald because of his superior ballot title (“Department’s Enforcement Attorney” to Villines’ “Businessman/State Assemblyman”).  But many Republicans voted against Villines because of his unrepentant role as an architect of the largest tax increase in California history.

Time for retirement: If we are going to solve our state’s public pension tsunami problem, two bold ideas are going to have to be on the table.

First, we need to move public employees to a 401(k)-style retirement plan in which the government, as an employer, pays out each year but is then done with its obligation; responsibility for the management of that employee’s fund, and for the decision of when it is valued high enough to retire, should be on the individual employee.

The other point: you can’t solve the problem by simply changing the rules for new hires.  Current employees will need to have a new, less generous benefit for their remaining years of service, such as the 401(k)-style account.

Insiders and outsiders: The apparent victory of Minuteman founder Tim Donnelly in Assembly District 59 is heartening to conservatives.

Not only because it is cool to know that you can win the GOP nomination in a Republican seat with just $22,000 and a lot of volunteers – but because the voters will be sending a strong voice to Sacramento to oppose the kind of insider, tax hiking deal that led to incumbent Anthony Adams’ retirement in that very seat.

Coastal views: This Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacancy in Senate District 15 presents a stark contrast to voters.

Democrat John Laird is so liberal that he makes his moderate Republican opponent, Sam Blakeslee, look like a right-winger.  What is the differentiating issue that matters?  Laird wants to raise taxes so the government sector can grow (or shrink less), Blakeslee wants to keep taxes low, so that the private sector can recover and produce more jobs.

Memo to Frisco: A note to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who are implementing a new regulation out of concerns of radioactivity coming from cell phones: It’s not the phones, it’s the drugs and your status as an international magnet for freaky people that are the causes of strangeness in your city.

Kudos to a pal: Congratulations are really in order to my longtime friend Jeff Randle.  Jeff and I came up in politics at the same time, though on different paths within the Republican Party.

All of these years later, I’m happily publishing a website.  Jeff, on the other hand, is playing a lead role in the election of the next Governor of California.  Very impressive, Jeff.  You deserve much credit – the next round of beers are on you (what you do pays better than what I do).

Jon Fleischman is editor and publisher of FlashReport and Vice Chairman, South of the California Republican Party.  His views are his own.

Rocky Poizner Battles Back Against eMeg Creed

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

There’s a great scene in “Rocky,” after underdog Sylvester Stallone has just hammered the arrogant heavyweight champion Apollo Creed with a couple of roundhouse lefts, and the champ’s corner man yells at him to stop preening and prancing around:

“He doesn’t know it’s a damn show,” says Creed’s trainer.  “He thinks it’s a damn fight!”

The classic cinematic moment came to mind Wednesday, when Steve Poizner’s campaign for governor delivered a major blow against the mantle of inevitability that Republican primary rival Meg Whitman has worn for months:

After trailing eMeg by 40+ points as recently as a few weeks ago Team Steve trotted out a quartet of senior strategists for a conference call with political writers to proclaim that they’ve closed to within 10 points, with nearly five weeks to go before the June 8 election.

“The Meg Whitman campaign is one of these classic campaigns which is sort of somebody walking around with a paper bag full of water. It wasn’t going to leak, but once it went, it would go. And that process is very much underway,” said chief strategist Stuart Stevens.

That there is some substance behind their spin had already been demonstrated, when Whitman’s handlers – after learning about the upcoming Poizner press call — convened their own conference call, leapfrogging Poizner by 30 minutes. Pre-spin spin.

“Our polls have been tracking with the public polls and I would be very strong in suggesting take any internal poll spin 30-32 days out with a grain of salt and keep an eye on those public polls that aren’t paid for by an interested party,” said Whitman strategist Mike Murphy. “Still, I want to be very clear we have always expected this race to close, and I think we’ve been very direct in telling you guys that.”

Poizner, he said, has “spent about $14.5 million on negative advertising targeting Meg Whitman, most of it misleading and disingenuous, but it has served two purposes. One, it has confused Republican primary voters — and we’re going to get them unconfused–  and second it’s made Steve Poizner fundamentally unelectable in the general election.”

The dueling spin sessions heightened the growing sense of immediacy and aggressive engagement in the GOP race, building on the hostile tone of Sunday’s Meg-Steve debate, and the recent multi-million dollar volleys of attack ads the contenders are launching against each other, during every popular TV show from “Lost” to “Dancing with the Stars.”

And speaking of movies, the several hour spin cycle played out kind of like “Rashomon” with both sides looking at the same events and developments and offering entirely different interpretations. Here’s a look at the highlights:

Polling – Poizner trotted out Neil Newhouse and Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies to offer what they said were the key findings of their latest three night tracking poll (May 2-4, 800 undefined “likely Republican primary voters”). According to Newhouse, in the middle of February – the “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” he called it – Poizner trailed Whitman 59-11%; now, he said, eMeg’s lead has been cut to 38-28%.

Both candidates now have negative impression ratings, he said, eMeg’s favorable-to-unfavorable at 25-49% and Poizner’s at 30-39%. “The more the voters see of Meg Whitman, the less they like her and the more they see of Steve Poizner the more they like him,” said Stevens.

Whitman’s Murphy did not actually dispute the ballpark numbers presented by Newhouse.  “We are holding a strong lead but we’re running this campaign like we’re one point behind.” He said Whitman is a “lot closer” to holding 50% of the GOP vote than Poizner is and that Whitman’s lead is “a double-digit number.”

Message – Stevens said that Whitman’s message had been “muddled” – “they’re attacking Steve for not being conservative enough, but she’s never even said she’s a Republican” – and that Team eMeg had committed a  blunder by coming out of the box very early with negative attacks on Poizner instead of laying down a positive track. He said the Whitman campaign “made a strategic error attacking Steve so early” with ads that ridiculed, belittled and made fun of Poizner. “Voters have reacted very negatively to that,” he said, “they’ve been oversold.”

Stevens refused to say what Poizner’s mix of negative to positive ads would be.

It’s clear that Poizner will be seeking to dash against one of Whitman’s strongest arguments: inevitability; “I think it is remarkable that Whitman has failed to really lock down this race with the amount of spending she’s done so far,” said Newhouse. “It makes you wonder whether that can be corrected by spending even more money down the road. This race is still yet to be decided. We still have a lot of time left in this campaign. And voters are moving at a fairly rapid pace. If Whitman is unable to reverse this trend, then I think you are looking at a real upset here in the making.”

Murphy continued to argue inevitability. “We’re now in a debate over whether Steve Poizner will lose huge, lose medium, or lose a little tighter,” he said. “A vote for Poizner is really in many ways a vote for Jerry Brown because Commissioner Poizner has made himself completely unelectable in the general election.”

He said Whitman is “the only fiscal conservative” in the race and suggested that the campaign would be mailing strongly negative material about Poizner to voters in the coming days.

He also sought to turn Whitman’s Goldman Sachs taint back on Poizner. “The Goldman Sachs ad I know is a big spin item to the Poizner campaign but I don’t know I think it’s got to spin heavy and the full Goldman story has not been told,” Murphy said. He then threw out an allegation for which he offered not a shred of evidence: “I think Mr. Poizner should release his Goldman transactions during that time, during the tech boom when he was a wealthy individual there and I bet 50,000 that those returns would show that Steve Poizner participated in the same kind of IP shares that he’s accusing Meg Whitman of getting.”

Mechanics – The Whitman handlers stressed that their campaign has superior organization, including phone banks and  voter contact. In addition to endorsements like the Farm Bureau and former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, the campaign has built a huge volunteer structure, said consultant Jeff Randle.

“We are up and running in all 58 counties across the state,” he said. “ We have 15,000 committed volunteers that are out working for us at this stage of the campaign that’s more than any statewide campaign, gubernatorial campaign, that I’ve ever seen in this state. We’ve got phone banks going every night. We’ve got four field offices around the state: LA, Orange County, San Diego and the Bay Area. We started our volunteer program last night, we’ve made almost 100,000 phone calls in the first week. You’ll see yard signs popping up all over the state here in the next couple of days for Meg. On the stump you see crowds continue to grow, there’s excitement, there’s momentum, there’s buzz.”

Murphy predicted that a huge proportion of the electorate – 30-35% — would cast their votes as permanent absentees by the end of May suggesting that the notion that there’s still a lot of time left to move against Whitman is a fallacy.

Stevens mocked the notion that Whitman is “a grassroots candidate” and said the fact that Murphy was talking about process was a sign that their messaging had failed.

Jim Brulte, chairman of the Poizner campaign disputed Murphy’s assertion that a third of primary voters would cast ballots so early because of the many high-visibility propositions that voters will want to study before coming to a conclusion and mailing in their ballots.

Perhaps the most intriguing subject was one that was not discussed: unlike most other campaigns, there was no mention of fundraising, normally cited by campaigns as a marker of progress or success. With the two zillionaire squaring off, money is not obviously no object.

Calbuzz bottom line- The Republican race has now been joined and the big winner in yesterday’s spin war was the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Said Murphy, calling Poizner a “surrogate” for the attorney general and the labor unions: “The one person who’s enjoying this more than anyone else is Jerry Brown.”



High on the Hog: A Look Inside eMeg’s $pending

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The amounts of expenditures officially categorized in Meg Whitman’s 1,041-page, $29.4 million campaign finance report mask the staggering sums she has actually paid to political and business consultants and cronies, a Calbuzz analysis of her filing shows.

The formal FPPC category for “campaign consultants” totals $5.25 million on Whitman’s electronic statement for 2009. But when fees, travel and other expenses are totaled for consultants, it turns out that eMeg actually has forked out about $12.7 million to various strategic, research, media, fund-raising and other consultants.

A close reading of the report also reveals eMeg’s eye-popping financial relationships with a cadre of political and business associates.

For example: Not only has Whitman paid $350,000 categorized as “campaign consultants” to Tokoni – the online networking firm founded by her former eBay retainers Alex Kazim, Mary Lou Song and Rajiv Dutta, and funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar – but the report elsewhere  lists $2.55 million in payments to Tokoni for information technology costs and web services. That’s a total of $2.9 million for her pals who built and operate her poppy-festooned campaign web site.

Which makes sense, since Kazim was her point man at Skype – eMeg’s $3 billion flop investment for eBay. Calbuzz doesn’t expect to hear any critical eMeg war stories from these guys; for sheer interlocking intertwinedeness,  the Tokoni connection is unmatched.

Our Department of Linguistics and Obscurata assures us that “tokoni” is the Tongan word for “help.” (Not as in: eMeg is not known to be nice to the help, but more like, We’re from Calbuzz, we’re here to help.) The firm is a social networking operation that recently began selling help for  companies to brand themselves, in part by developing online communities for their customers and/or clients.

That’s what they’re doing for eMeg, Mary Lou Song told Helzerman’s Odd Bits a while back: “If you look at Meg Whitman as a brand it makes sense,” she said. “What makes politics so great is talking about life stories and the impact.  She was excited about her site and letting Californians talk about their lives.”

In addition to infusing her campaign with $19 million of her own fortune, Whitman raised about $10.2 million from other donors. But it cost her about $3.6 million, in fees to fund-raising consultants, costs and event expenses to raise that $10.2 million. That’s way too high, several veteran California campaign consultants told us, saying that 15-20% is the rule of thumb: “If you’re paying more than 15% on all the money raised,” said one, “you’re getting hosed.”

Some of eMeg’s largest expenditures were made to a fund-raiser and his business operation. Her FPPC report lists SJZ Inc., Solamere Capital and MJF, LLC.

WTF is all that, we asked.

SJZ Inc. is Spencer J. Zwick. Like Meg, he’s one of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s closest political allies, and now her national finance chairman. At a price: $564,046 to be exact, which is loyalty you can depend on.

Beyond that, eMeg also shelled out $96,000 to Solamere Capital – the investment firm founded by Zwick and his pal Tagg Romney (Mitt’s boy) – apparently for the services of Solamere employee Mason J. Fink. Those payments — $16,000 a month — stopped after July and instead eMeg started paying MJF LLC (Fink’s independent business) directly at a rate of $10,000 a month.

The reason the campaign stopped paying Solamere and started paying Fink directly in August may have something to do with Griff Harsh – Meg’s son with her husband, Stanford neurosurgeon Dr. Griffith R. Harsh IV. Young Griff went to work at Solamere that month as a junior analyst.

Valleywag, a part of Gawker, posted an item – a cheap, sleazy rumor, really — that suggested, without saying so, that eMeg’s campaign was paying Solamere to employ Griff. But according to Tucker Bounds, Meg’s communications honcho, the campaign made the switch when Griff went to work at Solamere specifically to avoid even the appearance of an impropriety, which Valleywag tried to imply.

Still, the connections between Meg and the Romneys are pretty deep, since – according to eMeg narrative – Mitt was her mentor at Bain and Company years ago. Having Mom shovel something like $700,000 to Solamere’s founder, company and an employee appears, at least, not to have hurt Griff’s employment chances.

The most head-banging number in the report is the $3.9 million paid to Smart Media Group of Alexandia, Va., for what appears to be Meg’s online videos and her radio advertising and air time.

Smart Media’s clients include other branded commodities like American Airlines, MasterCard, Columbian coffee and the Dallas Cowboys, along with some entities in search of a brand (like Meg is) – the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican Governor’s Association.

There’s much more fun with numbers: Like $290,662 to ACM Aviation for private jets. Or $1.96 million spent on campaign worker’s salaries, of which $50,000 was to California Choice Benefit Administrators for health insurance.

Or how about $528,121 to HSG Communications LLC for salary at $36,000 a month, plus expenses. That’s campaign ayatollah Henry Gomez. As consultant fees go, it’s a very large number, especially for a guy whose experience was as an uberflack at eBay, not a commander in the political trenches.

Atop the food chain – at least until we see in the next report what Mike Murphy’s getting paid* – is Scott Howell & Co, the media consultants from DC, who have thus far been paid $825,000 at $75,000 a month. That’s more even than eMeg has spent on polling and research — $672,463. (As veterans of the polling biz, Calbuzz can testify that with  $670,000 you could find out what left-handed, Basque rutabaga farmers in Fresno County think about global warming, if that’s what you wanted to know.)

Campaign manager Jillian Hasner’s a consultant at $28,500 a month while Jeff Randle, who had been top dog (after Gomez) at $27,500 is now down to a lousy $25,000 a month. Geez. Don’t get too upset: Jeff made $287,500 last year from Meg’s campaign, plus $79,652 billed to Randle Communications; his partner, Mitch Zak, made another $180,000.

Not sure how the salaries get set inside the campaign, with Sara Myers, who had been at $6,000, now pulling $8Gs bi-weekly** a month; Tucker Bounds and Todd Cranney at $7,500; Michael Saragosa and William Semmes at $6,250; John Endert at $5,250 and the Volcanic Sarah Pompei at $5,200. At those rates, our old colleague, Mary Anne Ostrom, is worth much more than the $4,250 she’s pulling now.

As for catering, the expense always most important to Calbuzz: eMeg dished out $12,275 to Wolfgang Puck. Burp.

* The report does include $27,500 a month for November and December for Bonaparte Films LLC for which Murphy is writer, producer and consultant. Total payments to Bonaparte thus far = $57,975 (for two months).

** Imagine our embarrassment when a reader notified us that we had underpaid all those staffers by half!