Gov. Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign ended 2015 with more than $1.2 million in outstanding bills, according to a federal campaign finance report filed Friday.
Walker’s campaign ended the year with about $153,000 cash on hand after spending $7.3 million out of $7.4 million in contributions over the course of the year, leaving his campaign about $1 million in the red.
Campaign spokesman Joe Fadness remained optimistic that Walker will be able to pay off the debt in short order based on his ability to raise nearly $600,000 in the fourth quarter of last year after he dropped out of the race.
“Governor Walker made substantial progress in addressing financial commitments over the last quarter, and he remains humbled by the outpouring of support from friends across the country who continue to believe in his common-sense reform agenda,” Fadness said in a statement.
UW-Madison political science professor Barry Burden called Walker’s debt “a modest amount of debt as presidential campaigns go.”
“Some candidates spend years paying back debts,” Burden said.
When Walker ended his campaign on Sept. 21 after only 71 days, he reportedly still held more than $1 million in debt. In the fourth quarter, he spent about $1.4 million, but about $400,000 of that was returned contributions. More than $300,000 paid for telemarketing and data services and the rest paid largely for consultants, mailers, event staging and campaign travel costs.
Burden said the Walker campaign will be able to continue generating income by selling or sharing its donor list, which it has already done with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others.
Also Friday, Walker’s 527 nonprofit political group, Our American Revival, reported it raised $1.1 million and spent $1.6 million in the second half of the year.
Our American Revival previously reported raising $6.2 million in the first half of the year. Almost all of the money in the second half came from two donations totaling $1 million from Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein of Lake Forest, Illinois. Uihlein is founder and CEO of Pleasant Prairie-based packing material distributor Uline Inc.
A Super PAC founded by Walker’s advisers, Unintimidated PAC, filed its terminal report with the FEC on Friday saying it will no longer raise money. Throughout 2015 it raised $24 million, including $4 million in the second half of the year, most of which — $2.5 million — also came from the Uihleins. It returned $18.4 million to donors and spent most of the rest, ending with $27,283.
Walker’s gubernatorial campaign account raised $6.4 million in 2015 and spent all of that and then some to end the year with about $20,000 in the bank.
Walker’s presidential campaign and Our American Revival spent nearly $260,000 reimbursing the state for his security team’s travel costs last year. A Walker administration spokesman said Friday that in the future Walker’s campaign will no longer be billed for those costs in keeping with past practice.