When Chad Barefoot quit his day job as Skip Stam’s assistant to run for a custom-made State Senate seat, he landed on his feet with a job at the political consulting firm of connected Republican Frank Williams. Campaign finance records show that about that time Stam’s campaign committee started paying a regular fee of $4,333.33 for “campaign consulting” to Williams’ firm Pioneer Strategies spaced about every month until Barefoot was elected. Beginning January 2012 there were 10 payments of $4,333.22 and one final payment of $8,666.66 on 10/17/12 for a total of $51,999.99. Barefoot’s campaign had the help of a lot of direct and indirect money, as thoroughly detailed by the Independent weekly, and he was elected that November.
Campaign finance records don’t show that the veteran politician Stam had ever hired Pioneer Strategies before 2012, or after, or that he ever paid such sums for “campaign consulting”. The closest that Stam’s records show is a one-time $4,200 in 2006 to JN Dollar for “mail service” and several payments totaling about $10,000 in 2000 to JN Dollar for “radio ads”. In addition there was one 2012 payment $1,500 to Pioneer Strategies for “website redesign”. You’d have thought that $52,000 for “campaign consulting” might include a website design, especially as Skip Stam is more likely to be giving campaign advice than receiving it. The coincidence of payments may not amount to a smoking gun, but there’s enough bad optics to raise eyebrows more than shot of botox could.