Clinton Slashes Campaign Debt in Half

Apr 15, 2009 7:36pm

ABC News’ Tahman Bradley reports: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slashed her campaign debt in half during the first three months of this year as virtually the entire Democratic establishment rallies around an effort to retire all of her remaining debt. Federal Election Commission reports filed Wednesday show Clinton retiring about $3.6 million dollars of debt since January, after bringing in a little less than a million dollars from donors. In all, Clinton brought in $5.5 million.  Clinton still owes pollster Mark Penn’s firm $2.3 million. On December 31, the campaign had $5.9 million in unpaid bills. Raising campaign funds after an election can be excruciatingly difficult for a losing candidate and the task before the Clinton operation is made all the more difficult because Hillary Clinton herself cannot go out and ask for money. After becoming Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Clinton was barred by the Hatch Act of 1939 from soliciting and receiving political contributions. The various Democratic Party campaign committees are lending a hand, using their e-mail lists to solicit contributions on her behalf. Longtime Clinton ally James Carville sent out a much publicized fundraising pitch last week saying it is "going to take an extraordinary effort to help pay off" the debt. That extraordinary effort: prizes for lucky donors. As outlined in the Carville e-mail, the campaign is now offering the possibility to win a day in New York City with former President Clinton, a weekend lunch with Carville and fellow strategist Paul Begala, and tickets to attend the American Idol season finale. Clinton lost all opportunities to get back the $13.1 million in personal money she loaned the campaign for the primary election after the time limit for candidates paying back personal loans passed last summer. The Obama campaign operation — renamed "Organizing for America" and now led by the Democratic National Committee — has been working to drum up grassroots support for President Obama’s agenda. Their FEC report showed the campaign sitting on $9.9 million. Oh, and — no, the Obama campaign committee cannot wipeout Clinton’s bills. Under law, the Obama campaign committee would only be able to contribute $2,000 to the Clinton organization.

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