On Wednesday, incoming Raw Story editor-in-chief Dave Levinthal flagged a previously-unreported statistic in Federal Election Commission campaign filings for Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Trump-backed celebrity TV host who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in Pennsylvania last year.
"Mehmet Oz ended 2022 with his U.S. Senate campaign committee more than $27 million (!) in debt, per a new FEC filing," Levinthal reported on Twitter. Furthermore, he added, "Most of the money is owed to Oz himself, and it's unlikely Oz will recoup much (or any) of it."
Oz's campaign owes another $282,000 to his digital fundraising firm, according to documents.
Candidate for office are allowed to loan money to their own campaigns if they have the personal wealth to do so. Furthermore, a recent Supreme Court decision in a challenge by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) struck down a law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise from individual donors to repay campaign debt after an election is over. However, it is unclear who would be willing to make such a contribution.
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Oz narrowly won a bitterly contested primary field with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, to challenge Democratic then-Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman, who ran a campaign that was complicated when he suffered a stroke at the end of the primary season and had to spend some of the general election season recovering.
His campaign was frequently mocked for comments and stunts considered to be out of touch, like a video of himself shopping for the ingredients for a fancy vegetable platter and campaigning about the price — and faced constant questions about his residency, having moved to Pennsylvania after spending years living in, and still owning luxury property in, New Jersey. Even Trump himself reportedly raged in private about how "awful" his chosen candidate was doing.