Where Hillary Clinton’s Money Went

Where Hillary Clinton’s Money Went Hillary Clinton raised staggering amounts of money this cycle, shattering previous records, and yet has loaned her campaign $5 million from her joint checking account. The Politico‘s Ben Smith wonders where it all went.

Hillary Clinton spent more than $77 million on her campaign in 2007, and her campaign said she had about $25 million in early January to spend in the primary. Her personal loan to the effort suggests that she’s spent down that and more.

But data on television advertising show that the bulk of both candidates’ spending has not gone to the television ads that are the main ways candidates now communicate with voters, and that Obama spent about 33 percent more on advertising over the last month than has Clinton.

A source with access to detailed data on media buying breaks down the TV spending, and reports that Hillary spent $24.6 million on television ads between the beginning of the campaign and February 3, including $12.1 million between Jan. 1, 2008 and Feb. 3.

In other words, more than three-quarters of her spending has gone elsewhere — operations, consultants, staff, ads in other media, etc.

As has been widely reported, the campaign has paid out $4.3 million to chief strategist Mark Penn and his company. That’s roughly four times what the Obama campaign has spent on David Axelrod. In terms of bang for the buck, Clinton’s getting the short end of the stick. Then again, that’s a drop in the bucket when you’re raising money by the truckload.

Of course, if her spending for Penn’s services is an indication of her fiscal management style, it’s easy to see how she would have gone through her funds. There’s nothing quite like spending other people’s money, I guess, to make cost no object.

UPDATE: A friend emails to argue, persuasively, that the Penn and Axelrod comparison is of the apples and oranges variety. The HuffPo link gives some indication of the breakdown but not enough to fully understand what’s going on. Essentially, Penn’s former company is doing full service polling, mailing, and other services whereas Alexrod is merely consulting. Presumably, then, Obama is outsourcing those tasks, at unspecified additional costs, to other firms.

How much Mark Penn is personally getting isn’t shown in the tables. It’s likely quite a lot. It’s not uncommon for the head guy to get a percentage of the ad buys, which would be considerable in this case. But it ain’t $4.3 million or anywhere close.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Elmo says:
  2. Kenny says:

    In that graphic is the money coming in … or going out?

  3. rodney dill says:

    Bill’s been hitting the cigar store again.