Center for Public Integrity Examines ‘All the Presidents’ Debt’

BY News Desk  May 2, 2013 at 12:26 PM EST


Then Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, talks to members of the audience after the second presidential debate in Richmond, Va., in October 1992. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the Clinton/Gore ’96 Primary Committee still owes $100,080. Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images.

After the most expensive presidential race in history it may not come as a surprise that many of the campaigns from 2012 remain with unsettled debt. What may come as a surprise is that debt remains on the books for campaigns going as far back as 1984.


The Center for Public Integrity senior writer Dave Levinthal examined these campaigns in a story published Thursday.

“Presidential candidates incessantly talk about budgets, small businesses and fiscal responsibility during their campaigns. But many of them, in the heat of political battle, break their own banks — and leave numerous businesses holding the bag, sometimes for years,” Levinthal said.

Now that campaign season is over, Levinthal wanted to identify the biggest deadbeat candidates and have them explain their plans for paying back what their campaigns still owe.

Read an excerpt from the story below:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich dubbed the national debt a “burden for our children for life.”

Ex-Rep. Dennis Kucinich vilified Republicans for adding, by his calculations, $4 trillion to it.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, meanwhile, predicted debt will precipitate a future of “indentured servitude to foreign lenders.”

What unites these and other presidential candidates is that they themselves are in debt. Campaign debt.

It’s a dubious distinction shared by Democrats and Republicans, eccentric nonagenarians and White House occupants.

Such debt isn’t really hurting anyone but creditors — certainly not the nation nor its creditworthiness.

But it is a reminder that despite candidates’ soaring rhetoric about fiscal responsibility, they often fail to follow their own prescription for sound budgetary management amid the relentless rush to remain competitive with political rivals during election seasons that are longer and more expensive than ever.

Until the debts are paid, the federal government requires former candidates in most cases to keep their campaign committees open and, technically, active, meaning some of the indebtedness stretches back decades.

Following are the nation’s top presidential campaign deadbeats who still find themselves at least $100,000 in the red, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission:

Read the entire story and see the list of candidates and their debts at the Center for Public Integrity’s website.