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Gingrich campaign $1 million in debt from private jets, web developers

By Kase Wickman
Monday, July 18, 2011 11:25 EDT
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All candidates for federal office, including presidential hopefuls and those running for Congress, were required to file their second quarter campaign finance paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last Friday. While this sounds like — and is — a bunch of paperwork, for the public, it’s a glimpse into candidates’ receipts and priorities for spending, along with a few hidden gems.

For example, Newt Gingrich (R) is the “luxury candidate,” the Washington Post pointed out, driving his campaign into $1 million of debt already by flying in private jets and hiring three software and Internet companies to build a website, spending $800,000 in the process. His campaign expenditures exceed $1.8 million, including the $450,000 he has spent on a private jet service.

Gingrich’s campaign has suffered from the start, between the revelation of a half-million dollar no-interest charge account debt the candidate held at jewelry company Tiffany’s, an image-bruising cruise vacation and the mass exodus of his top campaign staffers, all within weeks. Gingrich is also performing poorly in polls.

The candidate’s new staff, however, says Gingrich’s financial situation is improving.

“When we look at our numbers by week, we saw a storm in the middle of June,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told the Post. “And we’ve since weathered that storm.”

The filings also turn up entertaining details, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) spending $7.07 at Godfather’s Pizza, the restaurant chain that fellow presidential hopeful Herman Cain used to be CEO of.

Former presidential candidate and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is also still in the FEC’s sights, as her 2008 campaign debt lingers on. The Huffington Post reported that she still owes campaign strategist Mark Penn $289,010, according to her filings.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) is still $1.5 million in debt from his own 2008 attempt, so if he launched a 2012 bid, he would already be significantly more in debt than Gingrich’s disparaged operation.

SarahPAC, Sarah Palin’s (R) political action committee, has netted $1.6 million in donations this year. The former Republican vice presidential nominee and half-term Alaska governor has not yet announced whether she will run.

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
 
 
 
 
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