Thinking about giving some money to Ben Carson? Read this first.

It’s easy to like Ben.  It’s a little harder to like John Phillip Sousa IV (yes, the great-grandson), Vernon Robinson, and especially Bruce Eberle.  But they’re going to get a hefty percentage of whatever you fork over for Dr. Carson.

Not long after hearing the neurosurgeon’s now famous attack on Obamacare at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, Sousa, without knowing much of anything about his man, launched the National Draft Ben Carson for President Campaign, with Eberle’s Campaign Funding Direct raising the bucks.  Last year, before Carson officially declared his candidacy, the organization raked in $13.5 million.  Eberle specializes in black Republicans.  In the last election cycle, he ran “The Amazing Herman Cain Money Machine,” as he himself called it.

There’s a lot of money to be made from Republicans looking for their own “Magic Negro,” an African-American who, unlike former Rep. Allen West or Alan Keyes (a longtime Eberle beneficiary), may have no clear position on foreign policy or on key domestic issues but appeals to those hoping to demonstrate that they themselves, and the conservative movement, are not racist.

And this time around, Carson, along with Carly Fiorina, is benefiting hugely by being hailed as an anti-Trump:  a respectable outsider.  HP may have crashed and burned under Carly (check the details on your Compaq computer), but hey, she’s a woman, just like Hillary.

When Sheldon Adelson gives $20 million to Newt Gingrich – that is, to a PAC supporting him or Foster Friess donates a measly $1.6 million to a Rick Santorum PAC, some of the money is going to help pay the bills for those running the organizations.  But you can be sure Sheldon and Foster performed due diligence on the super-PACs they subsidized in 2012, and that the lion’s share of their contributions promoted Newt and Rick.

But someone stuffing a check for $50 into a prepaid envelope, or making a donation online with a credit card, has no idea how much of the money is going straight to the campaign of the candidate.  The share for some direct mail operators is 50% of the take.  Eberle’s companies reportedly billed for over $1 million of the $2.8 million they raised for Sheriff Joe’s re-election in 2012.

When you give money to a charity that you’re not personally involved in unlike a church or synagogue you can always check the organization on Charity Navigator.  The overall rating may not be helpful.  (CN gives a lot of points to a non-profit for increasing its revenues.)  But you can see at a glance what the CEO makes and what percentage of the budget goes to administrative versus program expenses.

No such service exists for political contributions. 

Caveat emptor.

Read more about Carson’s PAC men here and here (despite its dubious provenance).

It might also worth considering who’s giving big bucks to your candidate.

And how each is doing so far in the dollar derby in particular who’s relying on small contributions.