WASHINGTON – The Kurt Bills U.S. Senate campaign has been making busy lately playing up comparisons with the late Paul Wellstone’s shoestring 1990 U.S. Senate campaign. Like Wellstone, one of Bills’ campaign props has been a retired school bus he’s taking across the state.
But according to the latest pre-primary filings the Bills campaign has made with the Federal Election Commission, that school bus, along with thousands spent on polling and consultants, has nearly emptied the campaign’s already-threadbare coffers.
As of July 25, Bills, a Republican, reported having just $5,841 in the bank. His opponent, DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, has more than 900 times as much cash for her campaign — nearly $5.4 million.
Bills actually didn’t have a terrible 25 days of fundraising in July. His haul was $105,113 compared to Klobuchar’s $131,996. But the Bills campaign began July with just $64,681 in the bank and then spent more than $160,000.
According to the records, the campaign spent $35,000 on polling, nearly $8,000 on software to manage the campaign’s finances and another $9,950 on fundraising consultants. An Ohio-based political consulting firm called The Strategy Network was paid $12,691. Direct mailings that are usually used to solicit funds cost the campaign another $8,980.
The bus has also consumed a fair share of the campaign’s resources. The records list a $3,533 charge to put Bills’ campaign logo on the bus. The campaign spent an additional $284.26 at a Tires Plus auto supply store for batteries, $1,268 on drivers and $361 for bus repairs.
When asked for a comment about the campaign’s finances, a spokesman referred inquiries to campaign manager Mike Osskopp, who has not yet responded.
The campaign’s cash situation might not be quite as dire as the FEC report shows. The filings only cover the period up until July 25. Bills visited Washington, DC that day to attend a fundraiser being held on his behalf by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). It’s not clear if any contributions from that event are listed on this filing.