Kerry Had $15 Million in Unspent Campaign Funds

Democrats Question Kerry’s Campaign Funds (AP)

Democratic Party leaders said Wednesday they want to know why Sen. John Kerry ended his presidential campaign with more than $15 million in the bank, money that could have helped Democratic candidates across the country. Some said he will be pressured to give the money to Democratic campaign committees rather than save it for a potential White House bid in 2008. “Democrats are questioning why he sat on so much money that could have helped him defeat George Bush or helped down-ballot races, many of which could have gone our way with a few more million dollars,” said Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential race.

Brazile is a member of the 400-plus member Democratic National Committee, which meets early next year to pick a new party chairman. One high-ranking member of the DNC, speaking on condition of anonymity, said word of Kerry’s nest egg has stirred anger on the committee and could hurt his chances of putting an ally in the chairmanship.

Congressional Democrats and labor leaders also privately questioned Kerry’s motives. One said he would personally ask the Massachusetts senator to donate some of the money to the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees. Three former Kerry campaign aides, also demanding anonymity out of concerns about alienating their former boss, said they were surprised and disappointed to learn that he left so much money in the bank.

Kerry had roughly $45 million left in his primary campaign fund as of mid-October, according to his Federal Election Commission report, and could use that as seed money for another presidential bid.

While I don’t think Kerry lost because he didn’t spend enough money–indeed, he spent more than any candidate in history–this is most peculiar indeed. Kevin Drum can’t explain it, either.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. austin mls says:

    Y’know, I keep thinking there will be a reason for this. But I can’t come up with one.

    The Kerry campaign was horribly managed. It was a pretty clear indication that a Kerry White House would have been similarly horribly managed, at least in the early years. Clinton’s early years were awful too, but he improved. Sometimes you can learn management on the job…

    I mean, did they not want to spend money on more ads? Sure moveon, ACT, etc. were spending plenty of money on ads, but they weren’t the official campaign line.

    Maybe they really didn’t want to spend money on ads. There’s alot of resentment among many consultants in Democratic circles about how rich Shrum and Company have gotten from media buys. It’s clear that some in the campaign wanted to minimize the paid media expenses.

    Still, I keep thinking there will be an explanation. Kerry certainly owes his donors an explanation. If I were a donor, I would never, EVER give my money to someone who used my money so wastefully.

  2. LJD says:

    1. Kerry asked Al Gore what he would do with the money, and decided to put in into a “lock box”.

    2. He asked Bill Clinton what he would do, and decided to save it to bolster the $7 million for future legal fees. (Big smile and a “thumbs-up”).

    3. He asked Tuhrayza what to do with it, and the money somehow ended up in Pennsylvania. (R&D for green ketchup?)

    4. He asked Saddam what to do and it was used to bribe the U.N., build a few vacation homes in Nantucket and Vail, and rough up some RNC campaign workers.

    5. He asked Jacques Strap, uh Chirac, and it was used to secure reduced price oil for the State of Massachusetts.

    6. He asked Hilary, and she said “you can use it as my V.P. running mate in 2008!”

    Some one please stop me….