When presidential campaigns end, what happens to the leftover money? – By Richard Briffault (The Conversation) / Feb 12 2020
Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet have ended their campaigns for president.
What happens to the money they have raised, but not yet spent?
The amounts could be substantial. Financial reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission indicate that as of Dec. 31, 2019, candidates who had already dropped out still had plenty in the bank. Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke dropped out Nov. 1, but at year’s end still had US$360,000 in the bank. Sen. Kamala Harris, who dropped out Dec. 3, reported having $1.3 million available.
Other candidates who dropped out in January had large sums on hand not long before they ended their campaigns: Julian Castro had $950,000 on Dec. 31, and dropped out two days later. Less than two weeks before they exited, Marianne Williamson had $330,000 and Sen. Cory Booker had $4.2 million.
I teach and write about campaign finance law. There is one clear rule about that money: Candidates can’t use it for personal expenses, like mortgage payments, groceries, clothing purchases or vacations. But there are a lot of other options, both within politics and outside of it.
Paying what’s owed
The first use for money from a candidate who has just quit the campaign is generally to pay the cost of winding things up. Just because someone announces they’re out, their expenses don’t stop right away. They may still owe rent on office space, as well as fees for services like polling and transportation and for staff salaries.
Some campaigns max out their credit cards, or take out loans to fill their accounts, and those still need to be repaid.