|Photo by Gage Skidmore|
Reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission show that Gingrich spent heavily in March for private jet flights, security consultants and travel costs, even as his campaign for the presidency was headed for collapse.
By John Arundel
ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Even as presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign collided with the reality of sinking poll numbers and financial problems, he racked up nearly $3 million in new debt to mostly local vendors.
|Illustration by Gage Skidmore|
Reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission show that Gingrich spent heavily in March for private jet flights, security consultants and travel costs, even as his campaign for the presidency was headed for collapse. Mitt Romney picked up enough delegates two weeks ago to all but assure his GOP nomination.
His campaign's top debts for March include $1.1 million to Moby Dick Airways, a private air charter broker; $450,000 to Patriot Group, a Warrenton-based security firm, and $178,000 to Event Strategies of Alexandria for "event production." The spending put the campaign deeply into the red.
“Campaign insiders,” Politico reported, “attribute the problems partly to Gingrich and his wife Callista asserting that the couple was unwilling to downgrade from private jets and security details even as the campaign floundered. Insiders say Callista Gingrich required an entourage of at least two staffers — including one who dressed in an elephant costume to promote her children’s book — and a contracted security guard who followed her even on non-campaign trips.”
Gingrich entered April with $4.3 million in total debt, a large increase from $1.5 million the month before, according to FEC reports. He raised $1.6 million during the month, spent $2 million and reported having $1.2 million cash in hand.
Even the staunchly Conservative and GOP-protective Washington Times pontificated on its editorial pages Sunday: "The Newt’s presidential campaign has got to be one of the worst ever run in American history."
The paper's editorial board went on to ponder: "Someone should ask the deep-thoughts historian to pontificate on that one...You know you’re running a lousy presidential campaign when you get bitten by a penguin. Gingrich, still in the race only because a deep-pocket casino magnate is funding his pathetic run, was campaigning last week for the zoo-animal vote in St. Louis — on a private tour, of course — and got nipped by a Magellanic penguin. Oh, if only he’d taken a jaunt through Big Cat Country or fed the crocodiles in the Herpetarium: Perhaps we’d all be out of our misery now."
The Gingrich's are no strangers to Old Town. Though they live in McLean, they were seen house-shopping in Old Town shortly after therir marriage and are seen frequently dining in Old Town. Callista Gingrich, wife number three (who's 22 years his junior) often frequents Sugar House, a well-known hair salon in Old Town.
After several weeks of campaigning last May, the couple took off on an island-hopping jaunt to the Greek Islands, departing on a luxury cruise from Piraeus, Greece, with stops along the way in Istanbul, Mylos, Patmos, Rhodes and Mykonos.
When Gingrich returned in June, a group of his top aides, including his campaign manager, said “enough,” and jumped ship. His former spokesman, Rick Tyler, told ABC News that he and "the senior leadership team of the campaign left largely because their candidate refused to campaign aggressively.”
This hit the news shortly after it was revealed that Newt and Callista held up to $500,000 in debt from Tiffany & Co., the elite jeweler. Just before the South Carolina debate, his second wife said Newt offered her a choice of an open marriage or a divorce after he revealed to her he was having an affair with Callista.
"While Newt’s presidential campaign was hemorrhaging money, it was paying its staff exorbitant sums," The Washington Times reported. "So much so the Federal Election Commission demanded the campaign disclose why 'nearly $1 million was paid to the candidate, staff and a small group of fundraising consultants for questionable reimbursements,'" The Washington Times reported. "Newt alone hauled in $88,000 in just one month."
It has been reported that Gingrich is so desperate to dig himself out of $4 million campaign debt that he has resorted to renting out his presidential campaign’s donor list.