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* Money shocker! Hillary Clinton's campaign debt soars

May 21, 2008 |  2:49 am

(*UPDATE: Due to a mathematical error, Hillary Clinton's loans to herself were added twice in the calculation of this item. Her total debts are about $21 million, not $31 million. A corrected item covering the first five paragraphs of this one has been published here.)

No wonder Sen. Hillary Clinton was so late filing her required campaign financial reports Tuesday night. Her political team didn't want the shocking news in it to overshadow her lopsided thumping of Sen. Barack Obama in Kentucky.I owe how much!? Hillary Clinton's Democratic presidential campaign discloses she is now nearly $31 million in debt

But here's the morning after, pay-up time. Clinton's campaign debt has now soared to nearly $31 million, according to numbers crunched early this morning by The Times' campaign finance guru, Dan Morain.

She added another $9.5 million in unpaid bills to vendors this last month alone, pushing her total debt to vendors and herself to the new astronomical figure, about a 50% debt increase in one month.

According to a campaign release put out Tuesday evening as election returns revealed her big win in Kentucky and loss in Oregon, Clinton raised "approximately $22 million" from other people in April. The release also touted that $10 million had poured in within 48 hours of another lopsided Clinton victory over Obama, that one in Pennsylvania, and said it was the second best fund-raising month of her entire campaign.

But the number collected is actually closer to $21 million and the release also neglected to mention that she spent $28.9 million, nearly $8 million more than she took in. She used personal loans to make up part of the difference. She also delayed payments to consultants. Including the $9.5 million in unpaid bills from April, she owes consultants and other vendors $19.5 million. Not to mention the total $11.4 million she has loaned herself.

For other campaign finance figures, including surprising financial success by the Republican Party aided by the president, continue reading below the video.

The likely Democratic nominee Obama continues to vastly out-raise Sen. John McCain, but the presumed Republican nominee is closing the money gap with the significant help of his party, according to new campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

McCain disclosed he had $21.7 million in the bank at the end of April, compared with ...

... Obama’s $46.5 million. But the Republican National Committee is proving to be a real financial equalizer for the Arizona senator with the notorious distaste for fund-raising.

With significant time and help from President George W. Bush, the RNC ended April with $40.6 million in the bank -- 10 times more than the Democratic National Committee, which had a modest $4.4 million in the bank.

The Democratic Party's fund-raising also was a fraction of the Republicans' in April -- a mere $4.7 million, compared with $19.8 million for the RNC.

The DNC’s cash in the bank actually fell from its March total, which was $5.3 million. Democrats have tapped former Vice President Al Gore in an effort to draw donors to party fund-raisers.

Party money can be used to help the nominees in a variety of direct and indirect ways during the general election campaign. Parties can pay for voter registration, voter turnout efforts and advertising.

McCain’s primary fight has long been over, which allowed him to limit spending to $6.4 million last month. Democratic front-runner Obama raised $31.9 million last month and spent $36.4 million, according to his report filed late Tuesday.

McCain disclosed he received $17.8 million in contributions in April, pushing his total receipts to $100.4 million for the whole campaign, less than half of Obama's total of $266.6 million since January 2007.

The freshman Illinois Democrat scooped up $31.9 million last month, a 20% drop from the $40 million he raised in March. He collected $55 million back in February, which seems millions of dollars ago, doesn't it?

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo: Associated Press

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