Has Mitt Romney Been Exaggerating His Campaign Finances?

I mentioned this in the morning post, but I may not have emphasized it enough. On Tuesday, there was a report that the Romney campaign is $11 million in debt. The campaign had borrowed $20 million before the Convention to tide them over until they could begin spending funds from the general election coffers. The campaign is choosing to hold onto the cash for now and try to pay it back with new fund-raising.

There have been many reports over the summer that Romney was taking in huge amounts of money, but last night The New York Times posted an article explaining why Romney has been spending more time fund-raising than on the stump in swing states and why his campaign hasn’t been running that many ads in the media. The fact is, that Romney’s campaign Isn’t really rolling in as much money as he’s been leading us to believe.

Despite what appears to be a plump bank account and an in-house production studio that cranks out multiple commercials a day, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been tightfisted with its advertising budget, leaving him at a disadvantage in several crucial states as President Obama blankets them with ads.

One major reason appears to be that Mr. Romney’s campaign finances have been significantly less robust than recent headlines would suggest. Much of the more than $300 million the campaign reported raising this summer is earmarked for the Republican National Committee, state Republican organizations and Congressional races, limiting the money Mr. Romney’s own campaign has to spend.

For each the past three months, the Romney campaign has been claiming contributions of more than $100,000, but it turns out not all of that money went into the campaign account.

Yet at the same time Romney aides worked hard to project the image of a fund-raising machine far outpacing the president’s.

Romney aides released informal dollar figures that lumped several pools of money — some available for his use, others not — into a single figure, providing a perception greater than reality: $106 million in June and $101 million in July, far more than Mr. Obama and the Democrats.

Yet those figures obscured the fact that most of the money Mr. Romney was raising was reserved for those other political entities like the Republican National Committee.

Only $22 million of the huge RNC windfall can be spent in combination with Romney’s presidential campaign. On the other hand, President Obama has more cash on hand.

A closer look at Mr. Romney’s own filings revealed that Mr. Obama, while trailing in overall party fund-raising, was pulling far more money than Mr. Romney into his campaign account, the most useful and flexible dollars a candidate has to spend, in part because of strong collection from small donors who could give again and again without hitting federal limits.

One reason for this is that this year Obama is getting most of his contributions from smaller donors, while Romney has fewer and wealthier donors, many of whom may have already maxed out. They can give unlimited amounts to superpacs, but with all the problems Romney has been having over the past three weeks, you have to wonder if the big guys will want to keep throwing away millions on a losing cause.

To show how the effect the lack of funds is having on Romney’s campaign, the Times compared his and Obama spending on ads in a number of states:

According to a review of spending figures provided by a group that tracks political advertising, from Sept. 10 through Sept. 24, Mr. Romney and his allies reserved $3.7 million in advertising time in Ohio. That compared with $5.2 million for Mr. Obama and his allies.

In Colorado, Mr. Romney is being outspent $2.2 million to $1.5 million during that same period. In New Hampshire, Mr. Obama is spending $1.2 million, compared with $380,000 to benefit Mr. Romney. The vast majority of that is coming not from the Romney campaign but from American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC.

The Times also notes that the Obama campaign has reserved $40 million worth of ad time through November 6, while the Romney campaign has been purchasing ad time day to day–a week ahead at most.

Now I admit that I’m a mathphobe, and I haven’t seen this discussed much around the blogosphere today, so maybe I’m totally nuts. But to me it looks like Romney is worried about money.

The campaigns have to report their spending for the past quarter tonight, and Romney released his report a short time ago. From Politico:

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign spent more than $66 million in August, ending the month with $50 million in the bank, new federal disclosure reports show….

The campaign took in nearly $67 million in August, doubling the $33 million the campaign in July.
That total doesn’t include a $20 million secured loan the campaign took out in August….

The Romney campaign’s August figures do not include money raised by the Republican National Committee, which operates a joint fundraising operation with the Romney campaign.

Right now Romney has $50 million in his campaign account. It looks to me like he’s going to be dependent on outside groups to fund his advertising. I also heard today that Karl Rove’s Crossroads superpac is not going to have a stunning report–their donations were down in August.

No wonder Romney has been going to so many fund-raisers instead of campaigning. It doesn’t seem smart to me. Doesn’t he have other people who could collect donations for him? Maybe not. And who knows how much longer the big money guys will stick with him? Will he have to start writing his own checks for the campaign?

As I said, I’m terrible at math. Let me know if you think I’m right or wrong about this.

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33 Comments on “Has Mitt Romney Been Exaggerating His Campaign Finances?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is interesting from Open Secrets: Restore Our Future Tapping Out?

    The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future raised just a bit more than $7 million in August, less than it raised in July and a big drop from June, when it brought in a record $20.7 million.

    In a monthly report filed with the Federal Election Commission this afternoon, the group showed it logged four contributions of $500,000 or more in the month of the GOP convention: $1 million each from Odyssey Re Holdings, a reinsurance underwriter that’s a subsidiary of the Canadian firm Fairfax Financial, and Robert Parsons, the executive chairman of domain name registry GoDaddy.com; and $500,000 apiece from Richard Roberts, identified as a senior adviser to Mutual Pharmacy, and Blanco Rio, a holding company owned in part by investors Sam Friedman and Jack Guenther.

    Restore Our Future spent more than $21 million — three times as much as it took in — depleting its once-substantial reserves and leaving it with just $6.3 million in the bank. The super PAC has been on a furious advertising roll; it was spending $2.2 million attacking President Barack Obama this week just in Wisconsin and Michigan, as we reported earlier. At the same time, the Romney campaign has been relatively stingy with its advertising dollars.

    • RalphB says:

      Maybe the campaign finances have been a con? Report huge numbers in hopes of attracting huge numbers.

      I’d love to know what Rove’s SuperPACs have on hand and what they’re raising.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think they have quite a bit on hand, but their donations were down last month. I can’t remember where I read that. I posted a link above that Romney’s main superpac only took in $7 million in August.

        Romney definitely pumped up his numbers. I’ll bet a lot of media execs are going to be mad when they find out he’s been hoodwinking them. They were expecting big bucks for ads in the last month.

      • RalphB says:

        Yeah all that talk from his campaign about how they were going to carpet bomb Obama into mush for the last two months may have been just bully talk. Unless they are counting on the outside groups to run all their ads, which may be what they plan.

      • bostonboomer says:

        But what if the big money guys stop giving to the outside groups? Then he’s screwed.

      • RalphB says:

        I keep asking myself, if I were Charles Koch or Adelson would I put more millions into this botched operation?

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Romney was mostly out of sight today–held three high dollar fund-raisers.

  3. janicen says:

    So he’s making it appear as if his campaign is taking in massive amounts of money from a huge number of donors when in fact, it is not. He’s creating the appearance of his followers being part of an enormous and robust movement although it’s all smoke and mirrors. Isn’t that one of those “Alinsky Rules”? Heehee! Romney’s a Commie! I knew it! Run for your lives! :-D

    All kidding aside, it looks like your math is spot on from where I’m sitting. It absolutely explains why he’s running around begging for money when he should be campaigning.

    • bostonboomer says:

      He raised the money, but most of it is restricted to the RNC. But it sure looks like he was trying to make it look like he was rolling in money.

    • RalphB says:

      It would make a darn good money laundering method. Private equity that is! ;-)

      • janicen says:

        I’ve had the phrase “Money laundering” on the tip of my tongue during the entire campaign season. The mega-wealthy launder their money through the super-pacs to turn it into influence and control.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    USA Today finally says it straight out: Reports show Romney short on cash on hand

    On the other hand,

    Details of President Obama’s August fundraising weren’t available Thursday evening, but Obama and the Democratic Party previously announced raising about $114 million in August, edging past the $111.6 million haul by Romney and the GOP.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Oh wow. Lawrence O’Donnell just played Ann Romney talking about the Republicans who are picking on Mitt.

    http://www.radioiowa.com/2012/09/20/ann-romney-to-critics-in-gop-you-want-to-try-it-get-in-the-ring-audio/

    • dakinikat says:

      She still sounds irritated with “you people”. We just don’t appreciate how they are taking time away from their very important work of doing nothing to offer to rule over us for awhile until Mitt can completely screw us all over and complete his ability to never pay any taxes again.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    This is really funny — President Obama and his Anger Translator react to Romney’s secret video.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/09/20/parody-obamas-anger-translator-on-the-47-percent-video/

  7. RalphB says:

    Sorry if this has already been posted. More good polls. Obama is leading almost everywhere now.

    Polls: Obama ahead in Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin

    President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney in Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin, reaching the key 50 percent support threshold in all three battlegrounds, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of these states.

    In both Colorado and Wisconsin, Obama is ahead by 5 points among likely voters (including those learning toward a candidate), 50 percent to 45 percent.

    And in Iowa, the president’s edge over Romney is 8 points, 50 percent to 42 percent.

    In the wider sample of registered voters, his leads are larger.

    • dakinikat says:

      It’s not possible to levy any kind of tax or price control on a market or a subsidy without redistributing income. Frequently, we redistribute it to businesses and wealthy much more often than we do the poor.

      • RalphB says:

        Think Exxon-Mobile or AT&T for example ;-)

      • NW Luna says:

        Pisses me off that Microsoft, Boeing, and similar companies are waited on by our CongressCritters. Meanwhile there are calls to slash the supposedly fat benefits and pensions of public-service workers.

  8. HT says:

    Perhaps I’m just naive, but the amount of money being put toward winning the President’s chair strikes me as obscene. If the same amount was spent in paying down the debt, then the horrific cuts to those that are less fortunate would not be necessary. Indeed, if on a collective basis, the deficit could be reduced considerably. I just do not understand how this much money is tossed around for what? It’s bizarre.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s disgusting.

    • NW Luna says:

      Put those millions into health care, infrastructure…

      And Obama said he’d take public financing back in ’08 if his opponent did. McCain did take public financing, and Obama promptly reneged on his promise. Obama’s action, and Citizens United will together have blocked real campaign reform for decades.

  9. RalphB says:

    How dead is the Romney campaign? The Mormons just baptized it. (rimshot)

  10. Pat Johnson says:

    Good one, ralph!

    I had company pop in just before the debate so I DVRd it and just finished watching.

    My impression was that if you were just tuning into these two candidates, Brown gave the impression of having won simply because he came across as more aggressive. Elizabeth is very ladylike and she needs to put her “mean girl” on because her comments were correct but her delivery needs a little more oomph.

    She and he are scheduled for another debate here in Spfld and there is not a ticket to be had out there. Sold out from the moment of the announcement so I guess I won’t be going.

    Brown lied more than once and his comment regarding her character was ridiculous. She has claimed to be 1/32nd American Indian and when he said “look at her” I cringed. I worked with a girl who was half black and you would never have known for a minute that this was the case. She looked Irish like her mother: light hair, light skin, blue eyes, straight hair.

    And not one mention of Mittens throughout. Funny that.