“I was hoping to get big donors, but when you don’t get a lot of press, we had to get it through social media,” he said. “It’s shocking to us, too. But I’m a veteran, I’m an established author. I’m not some no-name person.”
Peterson doesn’t boast a huge following on social media. And even raising a few thousand dollars in small-dollar contributions is a heavy lift for the best-known candidates. For comparison, Stacey Abrams raised a fraction of that sum from small-dollar donors at this stage in her 2018 bid for governor.
To amass $318,000 in unitemized contributions, Peterson would have needed at least 3,200 donors who each gave $99. If each gave $50, he would have needed 6,360 donors.
“That would seem improbable this early in a primary — during a pandemic — when many events are sparsely attended,” said Sarah Riggs Amico, a Democrat who ran for lieutenant governor and the U.S. Senate during the past two election cycles.
“I may be new to politics, but I’ve been good at math for a long time,” Amico added. “The math in his report is highly suspicious.”
It raised suspicions with Emadi, too. He said the agency was particularly skeptical of the “lack of named donors” on the report.
“At this time, we will be issuing a notice of inspection of the campaign’s record to determine the propriety of the contributions,” Emadi said.