A Close Look at Donors, War Chests and ‘Burn Rates’

NYT FDMaggie Haberman 7/16/2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 8.43.27 AMGood Thursday morning from Washington, where both the Obama administration and Republicans are charting their next moves on the Iran nuclear deal. But the focus now shifts back to the campaign trail, where the deadline to file financial disclosure forms offered a glimpse into the money coming in and going out of the campaigns.

The campaign finance filings of the 2016 presidential candidates, filed until the last minute on Wednesday night, bring into sharper relief the cash available to their campaigns and paint a picture of their spending habits.

Hillary Rodham Clinton leads the presidential field in both fund-raising and spending, having raised more than $46 million for the Democratic nominating contest since entering the race in mid-April. She has also spent more than $18 million, for a “burn rate,” or how quickly she is spending her cash on hand, of almost 40 percent. She has also created a campaign infrastructure larger than those of any of her rivals.

Her burn rate was higher than anticipated, in part because the campaign is intent on being frugal, an ethos set by her campaign manager, Robby Mook, and largely reflected in salaries and cellphone reimbursements. Yet while staff members are encouraged to take low-cost buses instead of trains, there were roughly $8,700 in Amtrak fees. The spending also included more than $275,000 to Correct the Record, a group supporting Mrs. Clinton and focused on opposition research that also compiled data on her own record going back decades. Her team has spent more than $1 million on polling.

Jeb Bush is among the top-raising Republicans. He raised roughly $11.5 million and spent about $3 million. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who declared his candidacy around the same time as Mrs. Clinton, reported raising nearly $9 million and spending $3 million. He also transferred roughly $3 million from his Senate campaign committee into the presidential account.

For the most part, the Republican candidates are using “super PACs” as fail-safes, raising large sums without limitations. Yet some functions can still be performed only by the campaigns, and so-called hard dollars, the campaign committee money that is capped at donations of $2,700 for the primary, tend to be more durable.