For weeks, Herman Cain has battled speculation that he is more interested in selling books than he is in becoming president of the United States. And that was before today’s Bloomberg News report that Cain has been purchasing copies of his own autobiography with campaign funds.
Federal Election Commission records show that Cain paid his own motivational speaking company — T.H.E. New Voice Inc. — $36,511 for copies of his book, “This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House.” In addition to the books, Cain’s campaign has paid his motivational speaking company more than $64,000 for airfare, lodging, and supplies.
Cain told Bloomberg that the books are being given to supporters to help familiarize them with Cain’s life story, and that the sales are in compliance with FEC rules. The FEC allows campaigns to buy candidates’ books as long as they do not profit from the sales.
Still, good government advocates like the Sunlight Foundation’s Editorial Director Bill Allison are concerned about Cain’s actions.
“All candidates publish books and they offer them as premiums to donors, but most candidates aren’t buying them from their own companies,” [Allison] said. “It raises the question of his campaign contributions ending up in his own pocket.”
Cain may not have technically broken any rules by using campaign funds to buy copies of his own book from his own company, but the incident still raises questions about the seriousness of Cain’s campaign. Cain was criticized for leaving the campaign trail in favor of his book tour after his victory in the Florida straw poll last month; his lack of a presence in the early primary states led Iowa talk show host Steve Deace to wonder “is that guy running for president or just lining up a book tour?”
In addition, the fact that Cain himself has bought almost 1,500 copies of his own book helps to explain its strong sales: “This Is Herman Cain!” currently sits in fourth place on the New York Times bestseller list.