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Campaign reports show McCaskill outspent Akin 3 to 1, both end up in debt

In Backroom

12:46 am on Mon, 12.10.12

Updated at 2:48 pm on Mon, 12.10.12

Missouri’s high-profile U.S. Senate contest, which spawned a national debate over “legitimate rape,’’ has ended with both major-party candidates reporting campaign debt of well over $200,000 apiece after jointly spending more than $25 million – a likely state record for the office.

Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin
Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin

Most of that money was spent by the victor, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who spent roughly $20 million in her successful battle against Republican rival Todd Akin, according to her official final campaign report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

She outspent Akin by about 3 to 1 overall, according to documents filed by both campaigns with the FEC. He reports spending about $6 million.

During the last three weeks of the campaign, the margin was a tad closer. McCaskill spent almost $3.58 million, compared to Akin’s $1.49 million.

McCaskill’s campaign provided her report’s six summary pages on Sunday to the St. Louis Beacon. Meanwhile, a source close to the Akin campaign gave the Beacon a copy of his entire 899-page report that had been mailed to the FEC.

Other documents filed with the FEC, and aggregated by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, also highlight the additional indirect financial edge that McCaskill held throughout the final weeks, thanks to millions of dollars spent by outside Democratic groups on her behalf -- mainly by attacking Akin.

Akin received some last-minute financial help from several GOP-aligned groups, documents show – including $760,000 from the national Republican Senatorial Committee, given to the state Republican Party.

But contrary to assumptions in some news reports, it appears little of that outside money was spent on Akin’s behalf on TV ads -- at least not in the St. Louis area, according to TV station reports filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

Neither his campaign nor GOP officials have yet said how the outside money was spent. Much of the documented pro-Akin activity during the final days before the Nov. 6 election came via a barrage of robo-calls made to likely voters on GOP lists.

Reports highlight McCaskill's fiscal edge

McCaskill and Akin’s final campaign reports cover the period from Oct. 18 through Nov. 26 but include overall totals as well.

McCaskill reports that she raised $18.58 million from all sources, excluding an initial personal loan of $160,000 and some returned contributions (generally because the donor had exceeded the federal contribution limit). The loan has been repaid, the report indicates.

Her overall spending reached $20.1 million. But her net campaign spending, excluding such items as donation refunds and offset by bank interest income, totaled just under $19.3 million.

She reported only $8,762 in the bank as of Nov. 26. Her reported debt, which includes outstanding bills, totaled $238,010.

Akin, meanwhile, reported raising $5.54 million from all sources, after returned contributions were calculated, with net campaign spending totaling $6.04 million.

He reported $54,499 on hand as of Nov. 26, with debts totaling $268,829.

Akin’s campaign report appeared to include some computer glitches.  A donation of $270,619 on Oct. 25 from the Senate Conservatives Fund – a SuperPAC with ties to influential Sen. James DeMint, R-S.C. – was listed in Akin’s report at least 321 times, according to a tally by the Beacon.

The report said that the fund’s total donations to the Akin campaign was just under $400,000, making it clear that $270,619 donation was apparently made just once.

However, FEC restrictions limit a PAC's direction contributions to a candidate to $5,000 an election, so it's unclear how Akin's campaign could accept a single contribution of $270,619. 

(Update) The campaign responded Monday that the Senate Conservatives Fund had been a donation aggregator, so it had been listed next to each donor who had given money to Akin via the Fund. The listed total reflects the tally of donations -- $270,619 -- made through the Fund since Oct. 18, the campaign said. (End of update)

Crowd of outside groups target Akin

Akin’s complete report indicated that he paid over $900,000 on TV ads during the final weeks of the campaign, although it’s not clear if some of the payments were for ads aired earlier.

In the St. Louis area, for example, documents submitted by TV stations in the St. Louis market indicate that his ad spending was roughly $200,000 for the final three weeks.

McCaskill’s summary sheets don’t include spending, and her full report to the FEC is not yet available on its website. However, FCC reports indicate that just during the final two weeks, she spent close to $500,000 on TV ads on broadcast stations in the St. Louis market. Such spending doesn't include any ad time purchased on cablet outlets.

In addition, McCaskill obtained hefty help from outside groups. According to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, outside groups spent about $13.36 million in Missouri’s Senate race throughout 2012.

Most of that spending was to help McCaskill and to hammer at Akin.

According to Sunlight’s tally, $6,696,171 was  spent by independent groups opposed to Akin.  That spending included any campaign activities attacking him, from TV ads to mailers or robo-calls.

The top anti-Akin spending involved $3.49 million from the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $1.7 million from the Majority PAC, aligned with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Both groups spent heavily on TV ads.

In contrast, the anti-McCaskill spending by various outside groups, including the National Rifle Association and the National Chamber of Commerce, totaled just about $1.2 million – a small sum that reflected the defection of such pro-GOP groups after Akin’s infamous August remark that victims of “legitimate rape’’ rarely get pregnant because of hormonal defenses.

(In 2010, Missouri’s then-Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, Robin Carnahan, was pummeled by more than $5 million in attack ads paid for by the same pro-GOP groups, who sought to help Republican nominee Roy Blunt, who won handily.)

The pro-McCaskill spending from outside groups totaled just under $1.6 million, Sunlight’s tally shows.

Meanwhile, Sunlight reported that the pro-Akin spending by outside groups totaled a bit more, about $1.8 million. The leading allied group was the Missouri-based Now or Never PAC, which spent just over $1 million on Akin’s behalf.

Wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, with homes in St. Louis and near Lake of the Ozarks, gave at least $1 million in 2012 to the Now or Never PAC, including $800,000 on Nov. 1, records show.

The political action committee had initially been formed last winter to help one of Akin's rivals, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, in the Republican primary.

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