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Money to burn

Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Time: 11:21 AM

As you know, when it comes to campaigns, it's all about the money. While it's interesting to look at campaign fundraising. it's equally as important to monitor spending habits (a.k.a burn rate). Over at My Left Nutmeg, MikleCT did an burn rate report has analysis of the 4 and 5 Congressional races is rather interesting.

Picture 14


4th CD
Chris Shays has decreased his burn rate over the last few months, not because he has decreased his spending, but because he has raised more money. Fundraising consultants are the leading beneficiaries of his largesse, sucking up $50,350 of his funds in the last half year.

Shays has discovered a new hobby lately -- books. He paid over $6,500 to Amazon for books, which were described as "event expenses." I assume that he's giving away books to his donors. Any guesses on what his favorites are? (I think he could get much more imaginative with his donor gifts.)

Perhaps Shays has been feeling a little lonely as the sole House Republican in New England. He gave $1,000 late last year to Jeb Bradley, who is trying to retake the New Hampshire seat he lost in a 2006 upset to Carol Shea-Porter. He contributed to the unsuccessful Massachusetts special election campaign of Jim Oganowski, who tried to take the seat vacated by Marty Meehan, and sent $1,000 to David Cappiello. On his donor list elsewhere in the nation were John Gard and Bob Latta, who sport strongly anti-choice records.

For most quarters last year, Himes raised more funds and spent much less than Shays, closing the gap in their cash on hand. His burn rate remains lower than Shays' overall. But in the first quarter of this year, for the first time, Himes both raised less and spent more than Shays.

Some of this increase in spending is accounted for by increased staffing, rent, and other expenses that he had not incurred in his start-up phase. He has, however, substantially increased his use of consultants, including $28,218 to the Feldman Group, a DC-based polling firm; $9,000 to Stamford-based Carlisle Hill LLC for "campaign management consulting services;" $5,000 to Paul Hortenstine, legislative assistant to Senator Bernie Sanders, for "research consulting services"; and $5,000 to Blue State Digital for Web site design. Unlike most campaigns, Himes remained blissfully free of fundraising consultants during this period, which could help explain his success in raising funds.

5th CD
Chris Murphy has become the most efficient candidate in the state, with the lowest burn rate. While the spending of most candidates can swing widely from quarter to quarter, Murphy's disciplined campaign engine keeps humming at similar dollar spending levels - about $61K to $67K over the last three quarters. Even at the end of June in the 2006 cycle, he had spent only 15% of his funds; he has thus far spent 17% in this cycle. He is spending at half the burn rate of Cappiello, whom I suspect has little name recognition to show for his money.

David Cappiello had a jump in spending, including:
  • $35,367 in unspecified "administrative services and expenses" to DC- and Massachusetts-based consultants,
  • $7,000 to develop his unappealing Web site and $2,000 to maintain it, and
  • $250 for a bartender and $420 for wine to drown his troubles.
Tony Nania, who is attempting to primary Cappiello for the privilege of losing to Murphy, didn't raise much (about $32,000), but didn't mind spending 77% of it immediately. He's not one for transparency, listing $7,473 in Visa bills that are described only as "various campaign expenses." That means one-third of his expenses are unexplained. I wonder if the FEC will want a word with him on that. Nania also:
  • loaned himself $2,800,
  • sent $8,250 to Westbury Strategies of Oxford CT for campaign management, and
  • spent $970 for a Web site that... doesn't seem to exist.

April Update

The April 2008 pre-convention finance reports have been released. The three weeks of time on which they report is too brief a period to fairly evaluate burn rates, so their data were not incorporated into the analysis above.


While there is certainly time in this quarter for increased fundraising and the April report is a mid-course snapshot, it is clear that the Himes campaign is accelerating, rather than scaling back their spending. Himes spent nearly three times as much as the nearest candidate in April. In just the first three weeks of this quarter, he has spent 80% of what he expended in the entire first quarter of 2008. The vast majority ($74,686) went to consultants, including $33,252 to a polling firm, $23,170 to a media and advertising firm, and $6,000 for his first fundraising consultant.

In other news:

  • ...Tony Nania is left with less than $6,000 to his name as the May 10 GOP nominating convention approaches.

  • The income from David Cappiello's Bush/Kissinger fundraiser was not reflected in the pre-convention report. Despite the de facto taxpayer subsidy for the event, the expenses charged for the fundraiser are likely to be substantial.


[Methodological notes: For raised and spent figures, used "Total Receipts" and "Total Disbursements" line items from Federal Election Commission quarterly reports. The only candidates with March 2008 debts were Chris Murphy ($2,000) and Tony Nania ($2,800). In April, Nania repaid his debt, which was his own loan to his campaign.]

posted by ctblogger at 11:21 AM | Permalink|

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