Buying of the President

Published — March 21, 2016

Latest numbers to know about the 2016 presidential race

February filled with booms, busts for candidates, super PACs


Presidential candidates and their supportive super PACs generally entered March one of two ways: flush with energy and cash or destined for Election 2016 footnote status.

A new round of federal campaign finance disclosures due Sunday night detailed presidential hopefuls’ boom-or-bust February — sometimes in all-too-ugly detail for the several candidates who ended their campaigns last month.

Here’s a rundown of the more telling — and curious — statistics to emerge:

$25 million: What a gaggle of billionaires, corporations and other wealthy types invested in Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s presidential bid just as it was poised to fall apart. Conservative Solutions PAC, a super PAC supporting Rubio, had its best fundraising month in February, raised the gaudy sum in February alone. The bulk of the money — $22 million — came in just 11 seven-figure contributions from big names in GOP donor circles, including billionaire investors Paul Singer and Ken Griffin (each $2.5 million) and Oracle Corporation’s Larry Ellison ($2 million). Most likely to feel like a turkey? Arkansas poultry magnate Ronald Cameron, who contributed $5 million to the ill-fated effort. Conservative Solutions PAC also reported $2.5 million contributions each from two companies associated with Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg — Starr International USA and C.V. Starr & Company Inc. Greenberg is on quite a losing streak, having previously contributed $10 million to Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush‘s failed presidential campaign. Rubio withdrew from the presidential race in mid-March after he lost his home state primary in Florida.

$13,623,451: Difference entering March between the Hillary Clintoncampaign’s cash on hand (more than $30.83 million) and that of the Bernie Sanders campaign (about $17.21 million). The gap comes after a February in which Sanders outraised Clinton by more than $14 million in the Democratic presidential primary. But Sanders in February also burned through about $9.4 million more than Clinton after his campaign already started the month with less cash in reserve.  Another problem for Sanders who trails Clinton in delegates as they fight to secure the Democratic nomination? Pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action, which like all super PACs may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against candidates, boasted nearly $44.5 million cash on hand heading into March.

$12,056,903: What Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s long-shot presidential campaign has raised through February — for the entire presidential election. That’s about one-twelfth the amount Sanders’ campaign has raised during the same period. Kasich, who’s only Republican primary victory came last week in his home state of Ohio, can take some heart in that New Day for America, a super PAC supporting him, reported more than $2.5 million in its coffers heading into March.

$6.85 million: Value of the loan — unlikely to be recouped — that billionaire businessman Donald Trump personally made in February to his presidential campaign. It’s part of about $24.4 million that Trump has loaned his campaign. But lo: Despite Trump’s frequent assertion that he’s self-funding his Republican presidential bid, supporters also collectively contributed $2.03 million to The Donald in February alone. That’s in addition to the roughly $7.5 million individual contributors have already sent Trump’s way.

$4,510,722: The remaining cash, after subtracting debt, that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s campaign enjoyed on Feb. 29 — four days before Carson quit the race. In addition to this surplus, Carson’s campaign committee is sitting on a veritable gold mine: the lucrative personal information of millions of donors and supporters, many of whom have never before engaged in presidential politics.

$4 million: Amount billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer gave his Democrat-backing super PAC in February.

$1,093,568: What the presidential campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who dropped his bid six months ago, still collectively owesmore than 40 creditors for services ranging from legal fees to photography. Walker’s campaign did manage to pay off almost $120,000 worth of debts in February thanks in part to money raised from renting the personal information of its donors to a data brokerage firm. It also scored a $5,000 contribution from the political action committee of tobacco company Reynolds American.

$700,000: How much Arizona Diamondbacks owner Earl “Ken” Kendrick Jr. contributed in February to Conservative Solutions PAC, the pro-Rubio super PAC. That’s more than 16 Diamondbacks players reportedly earn in annual salary. (The baseball club finished 13 games out of first place in the National League West last year.) Now that Rubio struck out, Kendrick is backing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary — and is willing to lose fans over his desire to keep Trump out of the White House.

$530,018: What corporations, limited liability companies and other such organizations contributed in February to Stand For Truth Inc., one of several super PACs supporting Cruz. The super PAC received more than half that amount from Missouri-based Herzog Railroad Services Inc.

$250,000: Value of a personal loan Bush made to his own campaign on Feb. 2 in a desperate effort to keep his ultimately doomed campaign alive.

$73,828: What Trump’s campaign paid law firm Jones Day in February. Why that’s notable: Trump’s general counsel is Don McGahn, a Jones Day lawyer who served as a Federal Election Commission commissioner from 2008 to 2013, including as its chairman and vice chairman. McGahn also previously served as general counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee. And like Trump, McGahn tends to march to his own tune — especially if it’s Guns ‘n’ Roses. After Trump won the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9, McGahn stood at Trump’s side has he delivered his victory speech.

$25,252: Amount of money New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign committee owed in payroll taxes by the end of February. It’s part of $485,000 in campaign debt Christie’s now-defunct campaign owed.

$6,000: The amount Christie’s campaign committee received in late February from Republican rival Rubio. Rubio gave Christie the money to access his campaign donor information — and the exchange came four days before Christie endorsed Trump, Rubio’s rival for the Republican presidential nomination. (Ouch.) But Christie’s endorsement may have been worth marginally more than his donor list: Trump crushed Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, in Rubio’s home state on March 15, prompting Rubio to suspend his presidential campaign.

$523.75: What the campaign committee for Bush, who helped raise tens of millions of dollars over the years for his nonprofit Foundation for Excellence in Education, still owed Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire, as of Feb. 29. The debt is related to a “facility rental” — likely, a campaign event he conducted at the school on Jan. 16.

$200: The amount of money former presidential candidate and ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s Democracy for America committee recently paid for “office supplies” — at Toys R Us.

67: Roughly, the percentage of money Sanders had raised this election cycle from people giving $200 or less to this campaign.

$10: What U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s defunct presidential campaign says it raisedon Feb. 6 from a newspaper reporter in Indiana.

Michael Beckel and Chris Zubak-Skees contributed to this report.

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