FEC Reports: Bachmann’s Debt, Huntsman Sr.’s Gift, and Perry’s Fall

Jan 31, 2012 4:11pm

Today is the deadline for both super PACs and the candidates who are actually running for president to report their finances for the last quarter of 2011. As of the afternoon, none of the candidates still in the race have released any forms, but some of the also-rans have made their filings available.

Michele Bachmann, for example, revealed that despite dropping out of the race right after the Iowa caucus, she’s deep in debt.

The congresswoman’s presidential campaign owes more than $1 million. In the fourth quarter of last year, she raised $1.7 million, mostly through small contributions, but she spent nearly $2.7 million.

The website for Bachmann’s campaign still asks for donations on its homepage. “I’m running for President of the United States because our nation is on the wrong track,” it says.

The federal disclosures are a reminder that even after candidates drop out of the race, in some cases they still have to work to make up the debt they racked up on the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton, for example, was paying off her presidential campaign debt for years, even as she was serving as Secretary of State under President Obama.

Other financial disclosures offer a glimpse into the little-understood world of the so-called super PACs, political groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. The super PAC supporting Jon Huntsman, who has endorsed Mitt Romney, raised $2.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 — thanks largely to Huntsman’s dad.

Jon Huntsman Sr., the executive chairman of the Huntsman Corporation, donated $1.8 million to the PAC, Our Destiny, according to the filings. At the end of the reporting period, Our Destiny had $126,000 cash on hand.

The latest candidate to drop out, Rick Perry, had a relatively terrible fundraising quarter. After jumping into the race and raising $17 million in seven weeks, Perry stumbled in the presidential debates and lost his donors’ support. From October through December, Perry raised just $2.9 million.

And, despite spending $14.2 million during that time period, he finished in last place or near last place in the primaries he stuck around for.

Another onetime candidate worth noting is Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out long before voting began and endorsed Romney on Sept. 12. Pawlenty’s report shows that after Oct. 1, he got $36,500 from Romney himself, Romney’s wife, 10 of their family members, three Romney campaign aides and Romney’s assistant in Boston.

Pawlenty has a net debt of about $56,000.

ABC News’s Elizabeth Hartfield and Chris Good contributed reporting.

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