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Ghosts of elections past: Which former candidates still have campaign debt?

Thursday, October 22, 2015 21:42
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

Photo by Flickr user Vox Efx

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks in the 2016 election cycle. On the heels of the Democratic Party’s primary debate and the third quarter FEC filing deadline, Jim Webb announced he’s dropping out of the race (at least for now) and Vice President Joe Biden announced he’s not getting in the race.

We’re continuing to crunch numbers on filings for the 2016 candidates, but we thought we’d pass along some of the nuggets we picked up on reading through FEC filings.

First, let’s start with the ghosts of elections past, beginning with the 2012 presidential contenders. Mitt Romney still has $1.5 million in the bank. Though he spent $252,000 last quarter, most of that went to compliance consultants, attorneys, data management services, email list rental consultants and storage. Notable, however, is that he made a $2,000 contribution to Kelly Ayotte and a $1,000 contribution to the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Hope Fund, which is a joint committee between Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee, received $725,000 in contributions. The committee has worked to retire debt from the President’s 2012 re-election campaign. Some of the big names who donated this quarter include actresses Sharon Stone and Sarah Jessica Parker. The committee lists $5,000 in debt.

On the other hand, Obama for America still lists $2.6 million in debt from the 2012 re-election campaign. The committee reported receiving $293,000 in contributions during the 3rd quarter.

Speaking of which: remember when Newt Gingrich was a contender in 2012? He’s still $4.6 million in the hole from that failed endeavor.

Some other debt filings of note:

  • Libertarian and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson still owes $1.395 million from his 2012 run.

  • Alan Keyes 2008 presidential run owes $1,341.

  • Friends of Herman Cain (2012) election owes $19,799.

  • Edwards for President (2008) owes $331,586.

Note: Campaigns do have to work to pay off the debts even when the campaign ends. However, the vendors and institutions who are owed the money have to take legal actions necessary to get the debt paid. If not, they could be in trouble with the FEC for an illegal contribution. You can read more about questions surrounding retiring debt here.

Now we’ll move on to congressional ghosts. Aaron Schock has $1.5 million in his account, along with $16,000 in his “victory” account. He’s spent $935,647 this quarter — most of which ($899,682) went to law firms. That’s on top of the $1 million that he previously spent.

Trey Radel has $165,000 in his campaign account but still owes $206,000. Following his resignation from Congress, he started running a media agency.

A sign bipartisanship is not completely dead: Take a look at the filing of Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D, and you’ll see some donations from former Republican Missouri Sen. Kit Bond’s consulting agency. The two boast a long-time friendship.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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