Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, sure spent a lot on wristbands, sunglasses straps and security cameras.
Those were all actual spending categories, as reported by Begich's campaign to the Federal Election Commission between Oct. 1, 2013 and Election Day 2014.
Campaigns buy weird things, as an ABC News analysis of Begich's Federal Election Commission disclosures demonstrates. In a sense, they're rolling parties from beginning to end as candidates host and attend dinners and receptions to raise money. Those parties require dance floors, banners and balloons.
Field operators rent cars and hand out swag. One recent presidential candidate had to pay thousands for a damaged golf cart. The strange expenses add up.
As it turns out, campaigns are actually high-security frat houses pic.twitter.com/3wuCu6DR6B— Chris Good (@c_good) November 4, 2014
Begich was the only Senate candidate in a competitive race this year to file his spending reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, as opposed to sending them in on paper, as most candidates do. That made it far more possible to comb through his spending, sort it by categories, and find out for instance, without reading thousands of pages, that in May he reimbursed a guy named Dan Winkelman for $10 of boat fuel (listed as "in kind" because it was provided to the campaign by a third party) or that he spent $25 on a noise permit in Anchorage.
Consequently, Begich's campaign gives us a window into campaign spending unparalleled by any other candidate in this election cycle. His tough race against Republican challenger Dan Sullivan attracted tens of millions of dollars in outside money and has been the sixth-most-expensive Senate race nationwide, so the example is a pretty valuable one.
Sure, Begich spent a lot of money on big-ticket items like advertising ($4.3 million), consulting and other contract work ($1.5 million) and office expenses ($88,000).
But it's the smaller, odder items that catch the eye, leading to comparisons with a high-security frat house, decked out in wristbands and sunglasses straps, partying in boats one minute and monitoring security cameras while shredding documents the next. Charts, after all, don't lie.