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Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A political action committee supporting Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich burned through most of the $10 million it received from billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson and his wife in January.
While most of the money was spent on television, radio and Internet advertising, almost $300,000 was paid to two consultants who’d received only travel expenses amounting to about $1,600 in December.
The payments record was included in the organization’s January financial disclosure report, filed with the Federal Election Commission yesterday. The report also shows that after a 14-percentage-point loss to Mitt Romney in the Florida primary at month’s end, the former House speaker’s campaign and the super-PAC supporting him were both left with little money to proceed in the next round of races.
The pro-Gingrich PAC, Winning Our Future, began February with $2.4 million in the bank after raising $11 million and spending $9.8 million in January, the FEC report shows. The committee has one-seventh the $16.3 million available to Restore Our Future, a group independently backing Romney.
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The Gingrich campaign was even more hard-pressed for cash. Though it was second to Romney in January fundraising among the Republican candidates, Gingrich’s campaign spent more than it raised during the month and began February with almost as much in campaign debt --$1.7 million -- as cash in the bank -- $1.8 million. Gingrich has spent much of the last three weeks on the West Coast trying to raise cash.
Gingrich’s campaign spent $5.9 million in January including $1.8 million for media buys, $858,000 for telemarketing, $503,000 for online processing fees and $368,000 for ballot access fees. Gingrich failed to qualify for the March 6 Virginia ballot and joined a lawsuit challenging the decision to exclude him.
The Adelsons’ $10 million donation and a $500,000 contribution from Texas billionaire Harold Simmons amounted to more than 95 percent of what Winning Our Future raised in January. The PAC raised $1 million from three members of Adelson’s family in December.
Of the $9.8 million that Winning Our Future spent in January, $9.2 million went to independent expenditures, a category that includes outlays for television, radio and mail advertising.
The pro-Gingrich PAC spent about $5.4 million in Florida, where Gingrich lost to Romney on Jan. 31. More than $4.2 million of that total went to produce and air television and radio ads to promote Gingrich or attack Romney.
Winning Our Future spent $3.4 million in South Carolina, where Gingrich’s 12-point win over Romney in the Jan. 21 primary gave him momentum that he couldn’t sustain.
The rest of the PAC’s January spending, $543,000, went to operating expenses including payments to consultants. Winning Our Future paid $206,000 to Rebecca A. Burkett, who serves as chairwoman of the PAC, according to organizing papers it filed with the FEC last December. Burkett received $156,000 for fundraising services and $50,000 for consulting, yesterday’s filing said.
Gregg A. Phillips, the PAC’s managing director, received $90,000 last month for strategic planning, the filing said. Phillips defended the accuracy of a 28-minute video that attacks Romney’s past service as a private-equity executive at Boston- based Bain Capital LLC, according to a Jan. 13 letter Phillips wrote to Romney. The video and the letter are posted on Winning Our Future’s website.
--Editors: Jeanne Cummings, Robin Meszoly
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