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Obama's team cranks up spending

The president's campaign fundraising in the third quarter enabled it to boost staff and outreach. The finance records were filed with the FEC, which all candidates must do by Saturday.

October 14, 2011|By Melanie Mason, Washington Bureau
  • The Obama campaign's voter outreach methods -- online marketing, telemarketing and print advertising -- cost more than $8 million.
The Obama campaign's voter outreach methods -- online marketing,… (Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Washington — The $70 million raised this summer by President Obama enabled his campaign to increase its staff and spend heavily, reaching out to voters by mail, phone and online, according to campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Obama and several of his Republican competitors submitted details Friday of their campaign fundraising and spending from July through September. The reports offer the latest insight into the health and operations of the presidential campaigns, including that of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who raised $14 million but spent cash at a faster rate this quarter compared with last.

In an email to supporters Thursday announcing Obama's fundraising take, campaign manager Jim Messina said staff grew by 50% — and the $4 million in payroll spending was in line with that.

The campaign's voter outreach methods — online marketing, telemarketing and print advertising — cost more than $8 million.

Between the campaign fund and the Democratic National Committee — for which Obama also raised money — the reelection effort has more than $75 million on hand.

The Obama campaign also disclosed a list of 351 bundlers — major fundraisers who collect donations from others — up more than 100 from the previous quarter. Among those on the top tier, bundlers who raised $500,000 or more, are film producer Harvey Weinstein and Steve Spinner, a former Department of Energy official who monitored a loan guarantee program that backed the now-bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra.

Obama's Republican opponents have not voluntarily disclosed their bundlers so far.

Having raised $32 million since he entered the race, Romney ended the quarter with $14.7 million cash on hand. His pace of spending has increased in the last three months, and overall he has spent 55% of the cash he has taken in since the campaign began.

"This quarter, we invested in the states to build the infrastructure for our grass-roots operations, including additional staff in early primary states, ballot access and voter ID," said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "We are well-prepared to run a 50-state campaign." 

"It takes money to raise it," Saul added.

Fundraising consulting was, in fact, the second-highest expense of the Romney campaign. SJZ LLC, a consulting firm founded by the campaign's national finance chairman, Spencer Zwick, was paid $2.2 million during the quarter.

The campaign's top expense was $2.7 million for direct mail.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. ended the quarter with $327,000 cash on hand and $890,000 in debt. Huntsman raised $4.51 million, nearly half of which he personally lent his campaign.

The filings also offer a last glimpse of Tim Pawlenty's extinguished presidential run. The former Minnesota governor took in $850,000 and spent $2.2 million for the quarter, but ended his campaign Aug. 14 after a lackluster showing in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. He registered about $450,000 in campaign debt.

Other presidential candidates have not yet submitted their FEC filings, which are due Saturday, but many have disclosed their quarterly take. Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that he raised $17 million in the first two months of his campaign, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said her campaign took in $4 million.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

Times staff writers Doug Smith and Maloy Moore in Los Angeles and Seema Mehta in Sioux City, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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