Political Animal


March 05, 2013 4:53 PM Nice Work If You Can Get It

By Ed Kilgore

The first post-Citizens United presidential contest saw a lot of money of questionable provenance sloshing through the political system, including the spectacle of a single donor more or less sustaining a candidacy long after its natural expiration date had passed.

But we learn today from CREW that the money donated to GOP candidates was a gift that kept on giving even after candidacies had totally given up the ghost:

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.
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.

At $2.8 million, Rick Santorum came in second in post-campaign spending, just as he did in the contest itself. Next up, however, was Jon Huntsman, who spent $2.6 million after a campaign that might be described as having immediately crashed if it had ever taken off.

In any event, we have a new answer to the perennial question of why candidates with no realistic chance decide to run for president: the gig comes with one hell of an expense account.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mimikatz on March 05, 2013 5:07 PM:

    The GOP will never correct its many problems unless it finds a way to control the grifters in their midst. That they have gone from fleecing the penurious faithful to fleecing millionaires and billionaires is not really surprising. What matters is what comes next. The Dems are obviously much better at policing this sort of thing and spend money more efficiently. They can probably leverage these advantages and actually benefit more from Citizens United than the GOP in Presidential and Senate races. Obviously big money can play a role in House races and statehouse races, but it isn't the killer advantage the Supreme Court majority may have thought. Still, it is a bad influence on our politics. The midterms will be very interesting.

  • c u n d gulag on March 05, 2013 5:10 PM:

    I'm not sure how much the candidate can pocket, but his/her political advisors can sure live off of that cmapaign money for the next 2-4-6 years!

    If it wasn't so damn serious, it would be funny how much campaign advisors make - even when their candidates lose!

    I'd laugh, but I'm choking on "Austerity" and the growing "Sequestration!!!"

  • Peter C on March 05, 2013 5:45 PM:

    It is important to remember that campaign money isn't 'consumed' such that it disappears. It 'circulates'. Conservatives pay a lot of it to each other. Candidates advertize on FOX. Roger Ailes gives to campaigns. It goes round and round and round. I once looked at the candidate disclosure forms for small races in my county in Texas. There was one major vendor where they spent almost all their money called 'The Republican Store'. Some of their contributions went for sign materials, but I'd guess that much of it was paid in order to keep a Republican message-promotion capability in place.

  • Sparko on March 05, 2013 7:33 PM:

    And Jesse Jackson Jr., is in trouble? Someone needs to follow the money through the laundry. Stupid pays better than anything in this country--no wonder the Atlantic pays so little to free lancers.