Newt Gingrich Wins Race For Biggest GOP Debt

April 26, 2012 2:19 a.m.

Newt Gingrich is dropping out of the GOP primary with more debt than any Republican candidate in recent memory who didn’t ultimately win their party’s nomination.

Figures dating back to 1992 compiled for TPM by the Center for Responsive Politics show that no other Republican presidential candidate who didn’t become the GOP nominee has closed out the cycle with as much debt as Gingrich’s campaign.

Gingrich’s campaign, according to the latest figures available from the Federal Election Commission, is $4.3 million in debt and had $1.5 million on hand. The closest failed Republican nominee in recent memory to approach the $4.3 million sum is Rudy Guiliani, whose campaign finished out the 2008 cycle $3.5 million in the hole. The campaign was only $2.2 million in debt when he dropped out in January 2008, barely half of Gingrich’s debt total.

Guiliani’s campaign still has $2.6 million in unpaid bills, including a $1.1 million personal loan he made to his campaign and various security, media and political consulting expenses.

Gingrich, in comparison, didn’t give any money to his own campaign and charged his campaign to buy access to his email database.“It is going to be a big problem for him,” Craig Holman of Public Citizen told TPM. “Now that the election is essentially over with, Newt Gingrich is going to have a very hard time drawing in contributors.”

Gingrich’s opponents in the 2012 cycle finished out their campaigns with much less debt. Rick Santorum’s latest report showed $1.9 million in outstanding bills, Michele Bachmann’s campaign has $1 million left to pay off while Rick Perry owes a mere $14,463. Tim Pawlenty closed out with $435,542 in debts which was paid off by Mitt Romney affiliates.

“If you were in Congress… you could still do a lot of fundraising, but Newt Gingrich is not going to be in Congress and he’s not going to be in the White House, and that’s going to make it very difficult to attract donors to fill his coffers,” Holman said. “He’s got himself in a lot of trouble.”

Gingrich’s outstanding debts include a $24,788.30 unpaid FedEx bill, thousands in consulting costs and hundreds of thousands of dollars for travel reimbursements for staffers (including $271,775 owed to Gingrich himself). The campaign still owes the South Carolina Republican Party $4,400 for lodging. Former Gingrich campaign chief Michael Krull is owed $27,689.69.

The biggest outstanding debt: $1,058,103 to the private jet company Moby Dick Airways.

In Gingrich’s case, Holman said the former Speaker of the House “continued to spend money recklessly” even though it was clear he couldn’t beat Romney.

Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond — who himself is owed $3,743.16 in travel reimbursements by the Gingrich campaign — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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