Engineers and developers work at President Obama's campaign headquarters… (Joel Kowsky / Bloomberg )
Reporting from Washington — President Obama’s reelection campaign spent $18.7 million in the last quarter building up a robust infrastructure, readying for a tough fight in this year’s general election.
By the end of the year, the reelection campaign had staff in at least 28 cities, shelling out $290,000 on rent in locales as varied as Los Angeles; Anchorage; Laramie, Wy.; and Fargo, N.D. The most costly real estate was the campaign’s cavernous headquarters, which takes up 50,000 square feet on the sixth floor of a high-rise office building overlooking Chicago’s skyline. The campaign paid $83,333.33 in October and November for that space alone.
With no ad buys last year, some of the biggest costs were payroll and payroll taxes, which together reached nearly $7 million. Another $1.7 million went into telemarketing, a sign of the strong fundraising push. And the campaign spent more than half a million dollars during this period on travel, including airlines, travel agencies, car rental and rail fees.
Some beneficiaries of the campaign’s spending were companies in which Bain Capital, the private equity company once run by GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney, had a controlling interest at one time. Obama 2012 spent $8,456 at Staples, $720 at Domino’s Pizza and $75 at Dunkin’ Donuts.
The more lavish spending was made by the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of the reelection effort and the Democratic National Committee. That committee spent nearly $850,000 on catering, including $50,000 at the House of Blues and nearly $49,000 at the West Hollywood restaurant Fig & Olive for fundraisers held there in October.
The victory fund spent an additional $1.1 million on merchandise expenses and fulfillment and $81,000 on entertainment.
In all, Obama raised $68 million for his reelection and the Democratic Party in the last quarter of 2011, giving him a healthy cash advantage as he headed into the 2012 reelection. His reelection campaign alone ended the year with nearly $82 million on hand and $3 million of debt.
Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.