Entries in Money (8)


Gingrich Raises $807K, Spends Nearly Same Amount in Third Quarter

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich raised a measly $807,962.45 in the third quarter, spending almost the same amount with $776,767.90 in disbursements, leaving the campaign still holding $1.1 million in debt, with $353,416.71 on hand.

The two largest areas of spending were website development, at $127,000, and telemarketing, at $107,701.77.

Campaign officials say they believe the former speaker has a shot at the GOP nomination, with rising poll numbers and donations coming in at double the pace in October as compared to September.

Gingrich “has momentum going into the fall and will be the alternative to the front runner,” campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said.

Most of the campaign’s support has come from small donors contributing an average of $76, he said.

Gingrich raised more than twice the amount of funds last quarter, bringing in $2.1 million since declaring his candidacy in May. However, he accrued $1.03 million in debt, leading to an exodus of 16 campaign staffers.

At the time, Gingrich blamed the media for the campaign’s financial troubles.

“The fact is a month of media barrage is painful, and it slowed a lot of things down,” Gingrich lamented to reporters at a parade in Clear Lake, Iowa, on July 4. “Our numbers will not be as good as we would like, and candidly, the consultants left us in debt. But every single week since they left we’ve been cutting down the debt, and we raise more than we spend in a week.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donors Fighting Debt Crisis with 'Tiny' $2 Million Contribution

VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm (WASHINGTON) -- While lawmakers fight over how many trillions of dollars should be cut from the deficit, some Americans are taking debt reduction into their own hands, albeit with far fewer zeros.

So far this year, individuals have donated almost $2 million to a little-known Treasury fund to chip away miniscule pieces of the country’s crushing $14.3 trillion debt. That $2 million is about .0017 percent of the $2.1 billion the United States pays every day just on the interest of that debt.

“It’s a very, very, very, very tiny, tiny amount,” compared to entire amount of the debt, said Mckayla Braden, a spokeswoman for Bureau of Public Debt. “We’re borrowing billions every week. It’s just a tiny bit, a rounding error probably.  But it means a lot to the people who are giving.”

Braden said that while donations most often come in the form of a personal check in a standard envelope, the bureau has received everything from a gold coin to nickels and dimes given by civics class students.

“More so it is just individuals who for some reason really feel they want to give more to their country,” Braden said.

But at an office that recently had to buy new calculators because the debt now has too many zeros for the old ones, even a gold coin seems like pennies.

“When [the debt] went to the trillions, we had to get new calculators because we didn’t have ones that go over 10 trillion,” Braden said.

The debt-reduction fund was established by Congress in 1961 in order to accept a $20-million donation that Susan Vaughan Clayton, a wealthy Texan, left to the federal government in her will. The fund is now managed by the Bureau of Public Debt, a branch of the Treasury Department.

Ultimately, all the donations end up in the Treasury’s general fund out of which almost all government expenditures are paid.

Braden said in the 32 years she has worked for the bureau, she would guess there have been fewer than 100 donations of more than $200,000. She said most people send in checks or cash for about $20 or $30.  The bureau sends a pre-written thank you letter to each donor who supplies a return address.

Some  lawmakers, such as Rep. Timothy Walz, D-Minn., are already pitching in to help lower deficits. When Walz took office in 2007, he decided not to accept a higher salary than his predecessor had, which meant the first-term congressman gave back about $6,600 to the government between January and September 2010 alone.

"It's a token measure, but it's something I can do," Walz told ABC’s Maya Srikrishnan in December.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mike Huckabee Wary of ‘Begging’ for Dollars on the Campaign Trail

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The runner-up for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee, suggested that his single biggest concern about running again in 2012 is the pressure to fill a campaign war chest with enough money to compete with President Barack Obama.

“I love to campaign -- it’s one of the things that I’d enjoy the most,” Huckabee said on a conference call with reporters Monday, but when it comes to fundraising, he acknowledged, “that’s not what I do best.”

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who now hosts his own television show on Fox News, is about to embark on a nationwide publicity tour for his new book, A Simple Government, Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don’t).

He said he will use his travel not only to sell books, but to meet with donors who could play a role in bankrolling a potential presidential campaign.

“I will be talking to people who are interested in the financial end of the campaign,” he said. "That’s part of what I’ll do when I’m not signing books and on the bus.”

Starting this weekend, Huckabee plans to visit roughly 41 cities, including multiple stops in two critical early nominating states: Iowa and South Carolina. He will meet with voters as well as potential financial backers and operatives.

He said he wants to avoid a long campaign of dialing for dollars in a “boiler room” environment -- “not my forte,” he said.

In an interview on Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America, Huckabee said he intends to make a decision by this summer whether or not to pursue the GOP nomination. The book tour, he said, will help him decide if he will be able to muster “both financial and organization support that warrants walking away from what I’m doing and getting back into the fray again.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Three Lawmakers Use Little-known Law to Chip Away at National Debt

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On his first day in the House of Representatives in 2007, Rep. Timothy Walz, D-Minn., decided to return a portion of his congressional salary to the United States in an effort to reduce the public debt.

Walz, of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, is among a handful of congressmen who have chosen to freeze their salaries and donate the rest to the deficit. Walz donated approximately $6,588 to the deficit between January and September 2010, according to the House's Statement of Disbursement, a quarterly public report containing all official receipts and expenditures for members of the House of Representatives.

Reps. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Frank Lobiondo, R-N.Y., also disclosed that they'd donated their congressional pay increases to the debt.

"When a pay increase is approved, he personally writes a check to return the money and specifically directs the U.S. Treasury Department to use it to pay down the public debt," Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said. Bachus also requests that his unspent office funds go toward the national debt rather than to other congressional spending. In the fiscal year 2009, Bachus' office expenses came in about $200 under budget, money he turned over to the U.S. Treasury Department for debt reduction.

Bachus, Lobiondo and Walz are the only members who disclosed their contributions to Congress in 2010. Other members may have privately donated money to the debt and other charities but chose not to disclose it in the disbursement books.

Congress passed the law in 1961 that allows citizens to donate funds to the U.S. to reduce the country's deficit. In 2010, more than $2.8 million has been donated to the fund to help ease the $1.3 trillion deficit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Most Wasteful Government Programs of 2010

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Republican senator has drafted what he calls a "wastebook" -- a guide to what he considers to be the top 100 examples of wasteful government spending in 2010.

Highlights include the $700,000 awarded by the Department of Agriculture to the University of New Hampshire to investigate methane gas emissions from dairy cows. The National Science Foundation spent $216,000 to study the use of "ambiguous" statements by politicians.

"I would tell you that there's hundreds of billions of dollars every year, that if the American tax payer could go down through it, they'd say "wipe this off, this off, this off...we don't think any of this is important," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK.), the author of the report, who acknowledges his examples represent a tiny fraction of government spending.

The combined cost of studies of cow burps and political statements was less than a million dollars, but some of the other items in Coburn's report are far more costly.

The government spends $28 million a year just to print The Congressional Record, a daily chronicle of every word uttered in Congress and countless more words submitted "for the record." The Congressional Record is available online which is the way most people who want to read it find it.

Coburn says the blame for most of this lies not with the White House, but with Congress. What's needed, he says, is for the president to fight Congress to stop these programs.

"We've never had a president, that I know of in my lifetime, that's willing to take on Congress," Coburn said. "None of them.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Rakes In Nearly $500,000 In Recent Weeks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin is hauling in cash. Between Oct. 13 and Nov. 22, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate raised $469,000, ABC News has learned.

Palin’s involvement in the midterm elections and her reality television series may have contributed to the recent surge in funding. Her new book, which will likely prove a good fundraising tool as well, did not hit stores until Nov. 23.

The recent influx of cash brings the total amount raised by Palin’s SarahPAC in 2009-2010 to approximately $5.3 million, roughly $3.2 million in the current fiscal year.

The recently raised cash was a result of direct mail or online donations, according to Time, which reports that Palin had only two fundraisers for her PAC this year, compared to Mitt Romney’s nine.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Flexes Fundraising Muscle in Key Senate Races

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a record-breaking political cycle where ad spending is estimated to hit $3 billion, Tea Party-backed Senate candidates are driving this year's exceptional fundraising activity, according to Federal Election Commission data reviewed by ABC News.

The 10 most prominent candidates, including list-toppers Sharron Angle of Nevada, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have together collected nearly 18 percent of the $400 million total raised by U.S. Senate candidates so far during the 2010 campaign.

Tea Party sensation Angle, who is locked in a dead heat with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, raised more money than any Senate candidate in the third quarter, raking in a whopping $14 million. Reid raised just under $2 million during the same period.

The Nevada Senate race has been the nation's most expensive this year, with nearly $40 million raised between the two candidates. The three-way race between Rubio, Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek in Florida is a close second.

In Pennsylvania, Tea Party favorite Toomey has raised more than $13 million and holds a financial edge over Democrat Joe Sestak in the final week of the campaign.

And, in the two weeks after clinching the GOP nomination in the September 14 primary, Delaware's Christine O'Donnell raked in more than $3 million and has out-raised her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, by more than double.

While the size and population of each state and varying costs of individual media markets can skew state-to-state comparisons, the Tea Party Senate candidates' fundraising achievement reflects the enthusiasm of their supporters and the engagement of new segments of the electorate.

Because of the Tea Party, "it's easier for people in those races to draw national attention," said Brendan Glavin of the Campaign Finance Institute.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Feds May Allow Campaign Donations By Text Message

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A proposal to allow people to use their cell phones to donate money to their favorite political candidates has rekindled a long-running debate about the risks of abuse associated with the technology that is rapidly changing the way American political campaigns are financed.

"I think candidates could raise a ton of money that way, and I'm naturally inclined to believe people should be able to give," said Sean Cairncross, an attorney who represents the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "But the flip side is that you lose some accountability."

Cairncross's reservations about cell phone donations center on the potential for people to donate anonymously, opening the door for unauthorized contributors and limiting the chance for disclosure. It's something he's grappled with in the past. During the 2008 presidential campaign Cairncross led an effort to challenge what he alleged were fraudulent contributions to then-candidate Barack Obama's presidential campaign, which he said slipped through because the donations flowed as part of a tidal wave of money Obama raised over the internet.

"The money they raised over the internet was off the charts," Cairncross said. "There were reports of people donating through anonymous cash cards. There were one or two who were giving well over the legal limits. Some were using names like 'Mickey Mouse' or 'Do Dad Pro.' And there was really no way to police it."

At the time, the Obama campaign said it worked aggressively to weed out and return improper donations. The questions largely subsided after the campaign was over.

But earlier this month, a group representing wireless telephone companies submitted a new request to the Federal Election Commission, proposing that candidates be allowed to use an even newer form of technology to facilitate giving donations via text messages.

In its proposal, the cell phone industry group has pointed out the massive amounts of charitable money raised through cell phone contributions after the Haiti earthquake. That's evidence, they argue, that this new method of giving has come into its own.

"The effectiveness of [cell phone messaging] to initiate small dollar contributions in short order was clearly demonstrated in the Haiti relief context earlier this year," the Sept. 10 petition to the FEC says. "Accordingly, [cell phones] are potentially significant tools in grassroots campaign organizing and fundraising and a means to promote small dollar support for federal candidate, party, and political committees."

The proposal would permit candidates to collect $10 contributions through texts sent by supporters. Each donor would have to agree to respond to questions certifying the donation is legal. The donor would have to agree, for instance, they have not given a cumulative amount more than $50 by text, that the donation is not coming from a corporation or union, and that they are not a foreign national.

Jan Baran, the campaign finance lawyer who submitted the request, said he thinks the practice will quickly become trusted and accepted. The real benefit, he said, is how easy it makes it for people to get involved in a political campaign.

"Someone could be watching the news and seeing a report about some candidate and decide right then, 'I'll send them five bucks,'" Baran told ABC News.

The proposal is consistent with existing law, he said, which already says that candidates can collect contributions of $50 or less without reporting them. "That's been the rule since 1974," he said. Moreover, he added, the wireless provider can insure the donor does not exceed a proscribed amount, and that the donation is made on a domestic cell phone, not one from overseas.

Brett Kappel, another campaign finance lawyer, said he believes it will be extremely difficult for the FEC to square this request current disclosure provisions.

"Campaign committees have a duty to collect information from all contributors and aggregate it so that if one donor gives three contributions that total more than $200 they can be itemized," Kappel said. "The way this technology works campaigns wouldn't know if multiple anonymous contributions came from one person or twenty different people."

Scott Thomas, a former FEC chairman, said he believes those concerns can be alleviated. For instance, he said, phone companies could be required to decline transactions for any cell phone where the $50 limit on anonymous contributions has been reached.

"Conceivably, the FEC could require the phone companies also to provide to benefitting campaigns electronic records showing which phone numbers and corresponding account names are associated with any batch of funds forwarded," he said.

Both parties see the potential for text messaging to provide a lucrative new avenue for candidates to raise money.

Cairncross said he believes there is "an enormous upside to it," because it makes it easier for people to get engaged. "This is a medium people communicate in now," he said.

The FEC has 60 days to make a decision.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio