- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ran a deficit of more than $12 million and spent millions of dollars on consultants, advertising and airfare during the last three months of 2007, according to records filed before she announced this week that she was forced to lend her campaign $5 million.

Though not reflected in the latest Federal Election Commission filings, the Clinton campaign went through cash at even faster pace in the recent weeks leading up to the Super Tuesday primaries.

“The campaign spent heavily on staff and voter communications in the Super Tuesday states,” Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said.

Mrs. Clinton reported nearly $40 million cash in the bank five weeks ago, although she told reporters Wednesday that she gave her campaign a personal loan because rival Sen. Barrack Obama “was able to raise more money.”

FEC filings show that Mrs. Clinton spent $39.9 million during the last three months of 2007, while raising $27.3 million. Top recipients included Media Strategies & Research, which took in more than $10 million from October through December, according to FEC records.

The campaign also paid $2.3 million to Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, where Clinton pollster Mark Penn works. And Gotham Acme, Mr. Wolfson’s consulting firm, received $316,000. Mrs. Clinton also spent heavily on travel costs.

Clinton campaign officials have downplayed the significance of Mrs. Clinton’s $5 million loan and said all campaign workers are being paid on time.

“Hillary stepped up to the plate at a time we needed it,” campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said yesterday.

He also said the campaign raised $7.5 million in online donations since polls closed on Super Tuesday to help pay for television ads in Washington state, Maine and Nebraska for their weekend elections.

As the race has tightened to a near-tie between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, her campaign is coming under increasing financial pressures as a result of Mr. Obama’s ability to raise more money from his larger small-donor base.

Unlike Mrs. Clinton’s contributors, the majority of whom have given the maximum $2,300 allowable for a primary campaign, the Obama campaign has been able to repeatedly go back to its small donors, many of whom give $100 to $200 or more at a time.

Democratic fundraiser Mike Lux, who is not associated with either presidential campaign, said, “Campaigns borrow all the time, so I don’t think anything earth-shattering has happened. But clearly, Obama has more money because of his Internet list of about 675,000 donors.

“He’s very well-positioned to outraise and outspend her for the rest of the campaign,” Mr. Lux said. “As far as I know, it’s the biggest contributor list in political history, at least in a primary campaign.”

Democratic campaign media adviser Bud Jackson said both candidates are performing well in the fundraising race.

“It’s just that Obama did so much better than Clinton by blowing her doors off with $32 million in the last reporting period,” Mr. Jackson said.

“The real story here is that Obama will have the money needed to raise his name identification and to establish himself as a credible alternative to Clinton before voters head to the polls again or into their caucuses,” Mr. Jackson said.

Jan Baran, a campaign-finance lawyer and former general counsel to the Republican National Committee, said Mrs. Clinton’s recent financial troubles came as a surprise.

“We’ve seen a candidates run out of money shortly before the primaries,” he said. “Here, we’re witnessing an arguable front-runner candidate temporarily running out of cash because to everyone’s surprise, the nomination battle is continuing.”

Mr. Penn pointed out that Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was forced to borrow $6.4 million on his Beacon Hill home in Boston when his cash-strapped campaign was running low on funds the month before the 2004 Iowa caucus and his resurgence.

Meantime, the liberal activist organization, MoveOn.org has put its own sizable Internet fundraising operation to work for Mr. Obama, whom it endorsed earlier this month.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this article.

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