Election '18

GOP Candidate Loses $631,000 In Campaign Money Betting on the Stock Market

Scott Wagner keeps investing money he should be spending on his campaign, with hilariously bad results.

Via Scott Wagner for Governor

The Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, former state Rep. and waste management executive Scott Wagner, has had a lot of clumsy moments. From telling a reporter he would have to ask his wife before talking about birth control, to calling a climate activist who asked him a question "young and naïve," to privately telling a gun-toting cult he agrees with them "98 percent," to saying he can't release his tax returns because his workers might start a union drive if they knew how much he made, Wagner provokes controversy on a regular basis.

But it is not just his words and beliefs that call into question Wagner's judgment. The way he has handled his campaign's finances is also bizarre — and disastrous.

According to campaign filings uncovered by Daily Kos writer Adam Bonin, over the last three months Wagner has lost $631,000 investing his campaign funds in a brokerage account:

Furthermore, according to Bonin, a filing this spring shows an even bigger investment loss of over 1,450,000.

As Bonin notes, "To be sure, there are also reports which show gains. But it's utterly irresponsible for a candidate to be investing campaign funds in the first place. It's too risky, too volatile. Plus the tax implications of earned income in a campaign account are a mess."

Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the Wagner campaign, stressed that Wagner had only invested the money he had self-funded, not campaign contributions from donors, and noted that the account "has actually netted hundreds of thousands in increases throughout the campaign." Even if this is true, with the midterm election less than 2 months away, this is a terrible time for Wagner's investments to slump on him.

The biggest irony is that the stock market has actually done fine this year — the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 9 percent within that same time frame. So it is unclear what investments caused Wagner's brokerage account to perform so poorly.

Wagner is challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. All five of the most recent polls of the race aggregated by FiveThirtyEight show Wolf ahead by double digits.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.