Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Eleven former presidential candidates carry more debt than Bachmann

WASHINGTON — Campaign debt is neither new nor controversial, and nearly a dozen campaigns still owe more than Michele Bachmann does.

Rep. Michele Bachmann should have no problem paying down the rest of her debt: As of March 31, her congressional campaign had $1.8 million in bank.
REUTERS/Joe Skipper

WASHINGTON — A staple of the last year’s worth of quarterly congressional fundraising recaps has been a look at Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign debt and the degree to which it has been paid down.

Presidential campaign debt is neither new nor controversial — many campaigns drive up at least a little bit of debt before they come to an end. At last check, in April, Bachmann for President still owed vendors more than $100,000, down from the $1 million in debt it carried when it closed shop in January 2012.

To put that number in context, take a look at today’s report from the Center for Public Integrity, which found 11 former presidential candidates (including the incumbent) with more debt than Bachmann.

Topping the list: Newt Gingrich ($4.6 million), a Democrat named Lyndon LaRouche ($3.2 million, much of it from a 1984 campaign) and the president himself, Barack Obama ($3.1 million).

Article continues after advertisement

Here’s CPI’s Bachmann explainer:

Days after Bachmann quit the presidential race after the January 2012 Iowa caucuses, her campaign reported being more than $1 million in debt with less than $166,000 in available cash. In the 15 months since, Bachmann has been able to whittle her debt down to less than $128,000, as of March 31. “That said, we are in communication with our venders and are working to pay the residual remaining balance off in the near future,” Bachmann for President finance chairman James L. Pollack said. Nahigian Strategies in Alexandria, Va., is owed more than half that amount for campaign management services. And Bachmann owes more than $6,200 to law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs for legal services. Smaller, stranger debts include $688 to a golf cart supplier in Omaha, Neb., and $47 to a general store in West Des Moines, Iowa. Bachmann’s campaign committee has found itself particularly crosswise with the golf cart rental set, as one Iowa-based supplier sued Bachmann — and won — after her campaign allegedly damaged several contracted vehicles, then failed to pay the bill. Bachmann ultimately paid up.

Since candidates can transfer funds between congressional and presidential campaigns, Bachmann should have no problem paying down the rest of her debt: As of March 31, her congressional campaign had $1.8 million in bank.

Devin Henry can be reached at