Friday, February 22, 2008

Fun With FEC Reports

I know that the media makes a big deal out of the monetary horserace, but you can learn an awful lot about a campaign by looking at their FEC reports. The February 20 reports filed by the candidates make for some interesting reading if you delve beyond the summary pages. You can access the reports here.

First there obvious measure of a campaign's health is their income. In this race, Obama is clearly superior. He pulled in $36.7 million in January alone. Hillary Clinton brought in a total of $19.7 million but $5 million of that was a loan to her campaign. (by the way, only loans from candidates can be "written off" without running into legal problems since a candidate can spend as much of their own money as they want, but classifying it as a loan allows for the spin of saying that the candidate is not trying to "buy" the election with her own money. It is a bogus legal fiction, but there it is. also, if it remains a loan, then Hillary's donors will be paying her back--ugh.) McCain brought in $12. million, of which $950,000 was a loan that has to be paid back since it was not a loan from the candidate.

Second, there is the spending habits. For example, Obama spent $17 million on ad buys and $1.9 million on payroll, just over $2 million on travel and around $500,000 on consultants (as listed). Hillary Clinton spent $4.5 million on travel, $2 million on salaries/payroll, $1 million on consultants, and $11 million on media buys.

Third is the indebtedness. A word here on debts for the FEC. A debt is not necessarily a loan, in fact it usually isn't a loan. A debt is simply money owed, usually an unpaid invoice(s). Here Hillary Clinton is in deep. Obama owes in total debts just over $1.1 million. Hillary Clinton owes $2.1 million to her strategist Mark Penn (yeah she overpaid for that service), almost $1 million to MSHC Partners (a media consulting firm); and $240,000 to Mandy Grunwald's firm. Thus in addition to the $1 million she paid to consultants in January, Clinton owes her consultants a minium of $3.2 million. Talk about consultant heavy.

Obama is not only running an effective fundraising machine, he is running a tight financial ship. That keeps costs and overhead down while at the same time allowing funds that are raised to be spent on real campaign activities, not on consultants or rediculous travel.

As I said, lots of fun an information to be found.

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