Trump, Clinton spending furiously as Election Day nears
Washington — Defying his notorious stinginess, Donald Trump more than doubled his campaign spending last month compared to August. He burned through roughly $70 million as his standing in polls and among fellow Republicans dropped.
His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, spent even more — almost $83 million.
New finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission outlined their dramatically different approaches to the quest for the White House. Trump, while putting more money than ever into advertising, spent a fraction of the roughly $66 million Clinton poured into media buys.
Clinton’s payroll topped 800 people, coming in as her second-highest expense of the month, about $5.5 million. Trump paid roughly 350 employees and consultants. He has outsourced most of his on-the-ground voter contact to the Republican Party.
The New York real estate mogul has bragged until recently about his low-cost campaign and dismissed the need for television ads and polling services. But in September, he paid $23 million for commercials.
Perhaps a reflection of his newest campaign manager, pollster Kellyanne Conway, Trump appears to have a new interest in polling.
In August he paid Conway’s The Polling Company $130,000. Last month, he almost tripled his payment to her company, part of $1.7 million in September expenditures to five different polling firms.
Another big expense: Long-ago ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received a total of $100,000.
Lewandowski was fired in June and quickly became a paid contributor to CNN. That hasn’t stopped him from collecting Trump campaign checks thanks to a contract. In September, his Green Monster Consulting firm collected what the campaign said was its final payout to him.
His firm took in about $540,000 over the course of the campaign. As a comparison, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, has been paid about $153,000 so far.
One of Clinton’s expenditures causes a double-take. Her campaign reimbursed employees who purchased $260 worth of products from Trump International Hotel in New York. That was for props — a tie, polo shirt and hat — in a Clinton campaign digital video highlighting that Trump doesn’t make all of his products in America. Indeed, the Clinton campaign line-item in the fundraising report reads: “Merchandise Not Made In America.”
September was the best fundraising month for both candidates. Of the $100 million Trump said he raised for his presidential bid and his Republican partners, about $55 million went to his campaign.
Clinton’s campaign said she raised $154 million, and her September filing showed about $74 million of that ended up in her campaign account.
Some outside groups active in the presidential race also filed fundraising paperwork on Thursday. Priorities USA, the chief super PAC backing Clinton raised almost $25 million. A $6 million chunk of that came from billionaire investor Donald Sussman.
Clinton-aligned NextGen Climate Action Committee took in $20 million last month. Nearly all of that amount — about $18 million— came from former hedge fund manager and climate change activist Tom Steyer. So far this election cycle, Steyer has given the group $43 million.
Super PACs on the Trump side have been less fruitful in their fundraising. One of the groups, called Make America Number One, collected $2 million in September from Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.