U.S. Senate seat in NY..Only the rich or well connected need apply

Courtest New York Times

November 7, 2006

Clinton Is Midterm Campaign’s Biggest Spender, Records Show, at $29.5 Million and Counting

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent more money in the midterm election cycle than any other politician running for office this year, campaign finance records show, investing more than twice as much as most candidates in tight races across the country.

To secure her Democratic re-election bid in New York, Mrs. Clinton spent $29.5 million through the middle of October, according to the Federal Election Commission, suggesting that she may have her sights on a future national campaign. While much of the amount is devoted to television advertising, it is the bills for catering, flowers and photography that elevated her tally far above other Senate candidates’.

While Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, spent $21.5 million through the same time period, records show, his spending report comprises bills like $30.33 at Papa John’s pizza, $59.50 at Panera Bread and $74.34 at the Olive Garden.

Not so for Mrs. Clinton, whose campaign reported sending a $6,585 check to Flutterbyes for flowers in Las Vegas, $5,397.50 to Le Petit Gourmet Catering in Glendale, Colo., and $80,000 to Tavern on the Green in Manhattan. Those were among the bills gleaned from a page-by-page review of Mrs. Clinton’s third-quarter campaign finance report, which showed disbursements of more than $8 million.

The chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Michael E. Toner, said only a handful of Senate candidates had ever spent more. The spending patterns of the Clinton campaign demonstrated “an extraordinary burn rate,” he said, which was particularly striking considering she did not seem to have a serious challenger in John Spencer, her Republican rival.

“It may be that Clinton is spending so heavily in New York to try to accomplish the kind of landslide that President Bush enjoyed in 1998,” said Mr. Toner, referring to the Texas governor’s race eight years ago. “The president’s 1998 race unquestionably helped lay the groundwork for a successful presidential campaign in 2000. History may be repeating itself.”

A spokeswoman for the campaign, Ann Lewis, said Mrs. Clinton began raising and spending money in January 2005, preparing for “whatever came our way.” When a competitive race did not materialize, Ms. Lewis said, the campaign began investing in an extensive get-out-the-vote program to remind Democrats not to overlook the election.

“If it is not considered to be close, you’ve got to give people a really good reason to vote for you,” Ms. Lewis said. “Frankly, there is not a statewide race that has built-in excitement.”

A review of the Clinton campaign’s filings with the Federal Election Commission showed that in addition to contributing $2.6 million to other Democrats, the campaign spent more than $2 million on advertising for television, radio and newspapers in the third quarter of the year.

The largest payment, $1.58 million, went to Media Strategies and Research of Denver, Colo., a Democratic political advertising firm. In addition, about $600,000 in fees were paid to Grunwald Communications, which is run by Mrs. Clinton’s longtime adviser Mandy Grunwald.

The remainder of the costs covered staff salaries and expenses for Mrs. Clinton. From Connecticut to California, nearly all fund-raising functions included catering, parking and photography.

“An important part of any event is the photo line,” Ms. Lewis said. “There is always a good chunk of time during the evening where she is taking photos.”

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