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Cash Hauls, Curious Expenses, Celebrity Donors: How the 2020 Candidates’ Fundraising Is Stacking Up  

We read the candidates’ first-quarter financial statements so you wouldn’t have to

Senator Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Senator Elizabeth Warren

Matt Rourke/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Suzanne Cordeiro/REX/Shutterstock

A week ago, every 2020 candidate filed their first-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission. The reports track every dollar a candidate raised and spent, offering the first inside glimpse of the election and how the candidates are stacking up. President Trump, who held his first 2020 campaign rally less than a month after he was inaugurated, has the largest war chest of anyone in the field. But the candidate with the highest percentage of small-dollar donors — a key indicator of broad-based public support — is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, followed closely by Universal Basic Income evangelist Andrew Yang. (The candidate with the lowest percentage, just 10 percent of overall contributions, is Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.) Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the highest burn-rate of any 2020 hopefuls, owing in large part to her campaign’s decision to build up campaign infrastructure in early-voting states.

Here’s what else you need to know about who’s giving money to who, and how the 2020 candidates are raising and spending their cash.

Donald Trump
Total haul: $30,304,180, which includes $22 million transferred from other PACs and the Republican National Committee
Total raised from individual contributions: $7,325,369
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 54 percent
Total spent: $8,834,889
Cash on hand: $40,762,193
Notable donors: Coal baron Robert E. Murray of Murray Energy Corporation (dubbed the “geriatric Dr. Evil” by John Oliver); Ukrainian model and pageant queen Oleksandra Nikolayenko-Ruffin, wife of Treasure Island Resort & Casino owner Phil Ruffin; Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, destroyer of media outlets and forwarder of racist emails; Ross Perot Jr., son of the eccentric billionaire and one-time presidential aspirant.
Notable expenditure: The campaign spent $142,897.15 at Trump properties during in the first quarter, including a $583.57 meal at the Trump Grill. (The campaign also expensed dozens of meals at McDonalds, Burger King, Jimmy John’s, Texas Roadhouse, TGI Fridays and Wendy’s.) The campaign owes $368,690 to the U.S. Treasury in travel expenses. (For every political rally the president attends using Air Force One, his campaign is required to reimburse the government the equivalent of one first class ticket for every member of his entourage.)

Bernie Sanders
Total haul: $20,688,027, including $2.5 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $18,186,300.21
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 84 percent
Total spent: $5,026,077
Cash on hand: $15,661,950.36
Notable donors: Brandi Carlile, Danny DeVito, Norah Jones, former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, Jackson Browne, Susan Sarandon
Notable expenditure: $154,500.95 on buttons and bumper stickers

Elizabeth Warren
Total haul: $16,482,752, including $10.4 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $6,016,435.38
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 70 percent
Total spent: $5,267,562
Cash on hand: $11,215,191
Notable donors: Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and his husband, Sean Eldridge; Jackson Browne
Notable expenditure: Warren has scaled her campaign faster than any of her rivals — her report shows a campaign’s payroll of more than a million dollars in the first quarter, not including payroll taxes or health insurance. The campaign also spent $1 in parking in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts, where she announced her campaign.

Kamala Harris
Total haul: $13,243,551, including $1.2 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $12,024,121.55
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 37 percent
Total spent: $4,285,426
Cash on hand: $8,958,125
Notable donors: Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Darren Aronofsky, Elizabeth Banks, Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Jenny Lewis, J.J. Abrams, Ben Affleck, Quincy Jones
Notable expenditure: An estimated $65,000 to the City of Oakland Police Department for security at her kick-off rally.

Kirsten Gillibrand
Total haul: $12,601,580, including $9.6 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $2,997,884
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 17 percent
Total spent: $2,433,078
Cash on hand: $10,168,502.18
Notable donors: Reese Witherspoon, Connie Britton, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg
Notable expenditure: $770 to offer valet parking at a campaign event; $1,497.14 on “supporter acknowledgements” at various flower shops.

John Delaney
Total haul: $12,144,070, including a personal loan
Total raised from individual contributions: $404,301
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 18 percent
Total spent: $1,844,453
Cash on hand: $10,567,865
Notable donors: John Delaney: the candidate has loaned himself $16.3 million since declaring his candidacy way back in July 2017 — $11.7 million during the first quarter of this year.
Notable expenditure: $3,475 in digital ads on Iowa Starting Line, a political blog run by a former Democratic operative.

Beto O’Rourke
Total haul: $9,373,261
Total raised from individual contributions: $9,369,861
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 59 percent
Total spent: $2,511,056
Cash on hand: $6,862,205.77
Notable donors: Willie Nelson, Phil Lesh, Anna Wintour, Richard Linklater
Notable expenditure O’Rourke, who famously eschewed pollsters and political consultants during his unsuccessful Senate bid against Ted Cruz, spent $1,277,742 with Middle Seat, a firm that consults on digital marketing; $9,000 at Civis Analytics, the data firm founded by the chief analytics officer for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign; and $2,200 at STG LLC, a “fully integrated political and public affairs consulting firm.”

Amy Klobuchar
Total haul: $8,832,322, including $3.6 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $5,232,376
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 35 percent
Total spent: $1,849,949
Cash on hand: $6,982,373
Notable donors: Former FBI head James Comey and his wife, Patrice; Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf; Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment chairwoman Dana Walden; Zynga founder Mark Pincus
Notable expenditure: $4,613.04 on office supplies. (Binders? Post-It notes? Who can say.)

Cory Booker
Total haul: $7,923,204, including $2.8 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $5,044,390
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 16 percent
Total spent: $1,792,194
Cash on hand: $6,131,010
Notable donors: Jon Bon Jovi, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, former Google chairman Eric Schmidt, PayPal founder Dan Schulman, Joel Madden, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Bacon, Orlando Bloom, and actress Rosario Dawson, Booker’s girlfriend (she pitched in $750 four days before he confirmed he was boo’d up on CNN’s “Breakfast Club.”)
Notable expenditure: $18,500 on campaign-finance compliance consultants.

Pete Buttigieg
Total haul: $7,091,224
Total raised from individual contributions: $7,086,155
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 64 percent
Total spent: $685,295
Cash on hand: $6,405,930
Notable donors: James Murdoch (son of Rupert), Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, entertainer Mandy Moore and her husband Taylor Goldsmith of the band Dawes, Ryan Reynolds, the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides, actor Bradley Whitford
Notable expenditure: The most notable fact about Buttigieg’s expenditures is how few of them there are — the South Bend mayor had the lowest burn rate of any candidate in the field. He spent just 9.4 percent of the money he raised in Q1. 

Tulsi Gabbard
Total haul: $4,495,770, including $2.5 million transferred from other PACs and committees
Total raised from individual contributions: $1,949,074.92
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 55 percent
Total spent: $1,706,544
Cash on hand:  $2,789,225.96
Notable donors: The onetime Bernie-or-Bust-er Susan Sarandon
Notable expenditure: $1,048.50 in Bank of Hawaii fees, mostly in the amount of $13.

Jay Inslee
Total haul: $2,256,655
Total raised from individual contributions: $2,255,455
Percent from donors giving $200 or less:17 percent
Total spent: $843,775
Cash on hand: $1,412,881
Notable donors: Connie Ballmer, wife of Los Angeles Clippers owners Steve Ballmer; Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes
Notable expenditure: The campaign’s largest expense was on digital advertising — it spent almost half a million dollars with the firm Trilogy Interactive in Q1. It also expensed $117.74 on “event wine.”

John Hickenlooper
Total haul: $2,020,683
Total raised from individual contributions: $2,014,099
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 10 percent
Total spent: $685,514
Cash on hand: $1,335,169
Notable donors: Goose Island Beer Company founder John Hall, Universal Music Group CEO Michael Dungan, Bain Capital co-chair Joshua Bekenstein, actor Scott Eastwood (son of Clint)
Notable expenditure: $128,084.62 to his own GIDDY UP PAC for things like gas, office supplies and domain registration, and “reimbursement of pre-candidacy expenditures.”

Andrew Yang
Total haul: $1,778,936
Total raised from individual contributions: $1,776,875.12
Percent from donors giving $200 or less: 81 percent (second only to Sanders)
Total spent: $665,965
Cash on hand: $1,151,702
Notable donors: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, actor Nicholas Cage, and Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo threw in the equivalent of one Freedom Dividend a piece.
Notable expenditure: $900 on print advertising in the daily newspaper World Journal, the largest-circulation Chinese language newspaper outside of mainland China.

Marianne Williamson
Total haul: $1,546,975
Total raised from individual contributions: $1,544,697
Percent of donations $200 or less: 60 percent
Total spent: $997,471
Cash on hand: $549,504
Notable donors: The film producer Stephen Bing; YouTube Matriarch Rossana “Mama Bee” Burgos; Paulette Cole, owner of ABC Carpet and Home; life coach Marie Forleo
Notable expenditures: $304,665.11 on consulting of various kinds (“policy & issue consulting,” “field consulting,” “operations consulting,” “outreach consulting,” etc.), $1,068 on hair and makeup, and $52,270.75 on vaguely termed “campaign paraphernalia.”

Julian Castro
Total haul: $1,100,641
Total raised from individual contributions: $1,092,941.02
Percent of donations $200 or less: 34 percent
Total spent: $625,497
Cash on hand: $677,655
Notable donors: Christy Haubegger, founding editor of Latina magazine; Christopher Meledandri, producer behind the Despicable Me franchise
Notable expenditure: The campaign’s largest expense was on digital advertising; it spent a combined $147,000 with two firms, Sapphire Strategies and the Texas-based Duable Brand Trust.

Wayne Messam
Total haul: $43,532
Total raised from individual contributions: $43,532
Percent of donations $200 or less: 26 percent
Total spent: $1,701
Cash on hand: $41,830
Notable donors: Former NFL player John St. Clair
Notable expenditures: $1,602.24 in service charges for Act Blue, the Democratic online fundraising tool

 

CORRECTION: This article initially stated the Buttigieg campaign had retained the law firm Perkins Coie. It is actually represented by Jenner & Block. We regret the error. 

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