In September 2016, Bill Bledsoe pulled into a gas station in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and filled a Chevy Express van with $613,638 of gasoline — enough fuel to drive him to the moon and back more than 10 times.
One week later, the Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate spent another $613,638 on gasoline at a station in Lamar, South Carolina.
At least, that’s the story told by public disclosures published on the Federal Election Commission’s website.
This sounds unbelievable because it’s wrong. Bledsoe spent less than $2,000 on his entire campaign.
The culprit? Bad data entry. Unlike those running for the presidency and U.S. House, U.S. Senate candidates don’t file campaign finance reports electronically — they file on paper, which must then be converted to electronic documents in a process that involves two government agencies, three private companies and countless low-paid workers, many of them overseas, and some who may be hostile toward U.S. interests.