The presidential campaign is over, but the debt lives on.
The campaigns of also-ran candidates Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Chris Dodd, Mike Huckabee and John McCain at the end of last month still owed a combined $4.7 million to a wide array of consultants, banks, lawyers and accountants, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission in the run-up to a midnight Wednesday deadline.
Dodd, the Connecticut Senator who dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination after finishing seventh in the Iowa Caucuses, still owed $1,400 to cable companies, while Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who bowed out of the Republican race after finishing a distant third in the Florida primary, reported $142,000 in unpaid bills owed to his own security company, Giuliani Security & Safety.
Campaign committees cannot close their books until they either pay off all outstanding bills or get vendors to agree to debt settlement agreements that are approved by the FEC.
In the first three months of the year—the period covered by the reports—Giuliani chipped in $200,000 of his own money to his campaign committee, the first time he dug into his own pocket for his campaign. He also got $2,000 from the coffers of eventual GOP nominee John McCain’s campaign. Nonetheless, the Giuliani campaign's $2.4 million in debt at the end of last month led the pack.
But it was the Democratic runner-up, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had the biggest bill. The entirety of her $2.3 million in debt was owed to her pollster, Mark Penn, even after she paid his firm back $3 million in the first quarter.
Behind them, the next biggest debtor was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who reported that his GOP campaign still owed $2 million to Goldman Sachs, though that may be a bit misleading, since it was in the form of a credit line secured by his personal assets held at Goldman Sachs. Romney still lists his personal $44 million contribution to his campaign – the overwhelmingly bulk of which he can no longer himself pay back – as a loan.
Dodd, who paid back $252,000, still owes $299,000, and Huckabee, a Republican former Arkansas governor, owes $82,000.
Though the outstanding debts are among the top-line highlights from the first quarter reports, there's a lot of interesting context buried deep in the data.
Dodd, who has caught flack for his ties to the finance industry, disgorged $11,500 in donations linked to the embattled Stanford Financial Group to the receivership appointed by a federal judge to compensate victims of an $8 billion fraud allegedly perpetrated by R. Allen Stanford and his companies.
McCain, the Arizona Senator who was bested by President Obama in the general election, contributed $5,000 to his new leadership political action committee, and refunded or voided $173,000 worth of checks for various reasons – presumably in an effort to get his books in order for an impending FEC audit required by his acceptance of $84 million in taxpayer money for his campaign.
Joe Biden, who mounted his own presidential campaign before becoming Obama’s running mate, reported receiving $2,275 in taxpayer funds for his primary campaign.
And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson paid off $27,000 in airfare he rung up as he crisscrossed the country during his bid for the Democratic nomination partly on corporate jets controlled by a couple influential New Mexicans with deep pockets — including Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.).
The money went to Lea King LLC, a corporation that New Mexico corporate filings show was set up by Teague and oilman Johnny Cope.