Last Call: How GOP Primary Candidates Spent After The Campaign
The campaign tab for some 2012 presidential contenders kept climbing long after they abandoned their dreams of the White House. New research by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found the campaigns of eight Republican presidential primary candidates continued to spend millions of dollars after their bids ended, using the money to pay for everything from consultants to private jets and hotel stays.
To be sure, winding down a multistate campaign doesn’t happen overnight and failed candidates do need to keep their operations running for a while. There are outstanding bills and debts to pay – lawyers, accountants, fundraisers, marketing companies, and other vendors whose invoices can take months to trickle in. Some expenses, though, raise questions.
The candidates reported spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on private jets, consulting, and even payments to family and other insiders after suspending their campaigns. For instance, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) spent $60,202 on travel, including $12,500 paid to a private jet company. Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) campaign paid $719 for a stay at the Hilton Miami in March, two months after he dropped out. He also spent nearly $7,400 on parking, $6,400 of which was spent in Austin, TX, where he serves as governor.
Businessman Herman Cain’s campaign repaid him $400,000 towards outstanding loans and $99,300 for unitemized “travel expenses.” The campaign also paid $31,596 to Mr. Cain’s company, T.H.E. New Voice Inc., for more travel costs. Rep. Paul’s campaign reported making more than $9,000 in salary payments to relatives including his daughter and grandchildren. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) paid nearly $80,000 to a consulting firm owned by her campaign manager.
The campaigns collectively spent more than $15 million after the candidates dropped out, with 27 percent of that spending taking place more than two months after candidates suspended their campaigns. Mr. Cain’s campaign spent $4.9 million after he left the race, the largest amount of any of the candidates, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who kept his diminished campaign alive through the Republican nominating convention in August, spent the least – $792,566.
Only two candidates, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R-UT) and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R- MN) have reported shutting down their campaign committees for good. The other candidates collectively have nearly $2 million in cash on hand remaining in their campaign accounts – and too many ways they can spend it.