Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A reasonable question asked about Open Secrets and Senator Clinton's debt

Let me begin this post by making a few things perfectly clear. I have no more information about the level of Senator Clinton's primary campaign debt than anybody else who has access to newspapers and the web. I am simply stating my own understanding of the current situation based solely on reports from newspapers and Open Secrets, an organization discussed below. My views are my own and do not reflect the views of any other individual who has written or spoken publicly on the status of Senator Clinton's primary campaign debt.

In a recent post, I analyzed Senator Clinton's debt situation as I understood it and continue to understand it. Subsequently, the Open Secrets.org sponsored by the Center for Responsive Politics, a web site that gathers publicly available information about candidates, policies and politics posted this information regarding the state of Senator Clinton's campaign finances. The Open Secrets website has made some people think that Senator Clinton's primary campaign debt has been retired. But to think this is to misunderstand the site.

The information at Open Secrets lumps together money raised for the general election and money raised for the primary campaign. Money raised for the general election cannot be used to pay off debt related to primary campaign expenditures. So though Senator Clinton appears to be in the black overall, she still needs to raise money to pay off debt from the primary season. This is why, I believe, Clinton campaign members continue to urge those who have not maxxed out to the primary (have not yet donated up to $2300 to the primary stage) to donate if they are able and willing to assist with paying down the debt.

Open Secrets only bases its reports on Federal Election Commission data. From the Open Secrets page discussing its coverage of Senator Clinton's campaign:
"NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2008 election cycle and based on Federal Election Commission data released electronically on Monday, June 30, 2008."
Open Secrets does not know how much money Senator Clinton has raised for retiring the debt so far during July. Neither do I. Even Senator Clinton's campaign accountants probably do not know because presumably donations are coming in as you read these words. Frustrating though it may be, people have to accept that there is a lag time between the figures reported to the FEC by all candidates from both major political parties and completely current information.


Blogger petunia politik said...

Thank you for addressing this matter. You can always be counted on for a concise assessment of a situation. And so we continue to contribute.......:)

July 23, 2008 at 3:59 AM  
Anonymous Dakinikat said...

Thanks for the quick response!

July 23, 2008 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous untilthelastdogdies said...


Thank-you for shedding light on this matter. I was unaware of the break-down after visiting the site. It's hard to interpret if not given the proper info!

July 23, 2008 at 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to add my appreciation also. A lot of people are confused. It all makes sense now that you explain the amount includes general election contributions.


July 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received a letter from Senator Clinton in the mail today. It was a form letter, but she asks for a donation to go to her sizeable outstanding campaign debt. So whatever the numbers look like, Hillary say's she still has a huge debt to repay. We PUMA must not have contributed as much as we thought

July 23, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see that the numbers can be hard to pin down precisely. Credit card donations can be retracted/contested, credit cards can max out, new expenses (for the accountants, for example) get added. BUT, I think some sort of clue can be given from the campaign about the current state of the debt. The campaign raised $35m in March (IIRC). Surely a $10m or $12m debt can be cleared. So what is going on over there. Has even $1m been raised? $6m? We don't know. I have admired HRC for a long time, but I am disappointed in her over this one (not terribly -- it probably is a mistake on her staff's part -- I still want her to run the country, you bet). But I expect some level of transparency (example: an announcement that we're about 3/4 there, or 1/4 or whatever the case may be).

July 24, 2008 at 1:03 PM  
OpenID uppitywoman08 said...

Hi Heidi, thanks for this. A commenter on my blog sent me to you, as I was feeling very confused at to what Opensecrets had to say and what the reality is. I will update accordingly, with reference to your material.

July 25, 2008 at 12:30 AM  

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