Where did the money come from and where did it go? US Senate candidates raise millions

The five Republican candidates seeking to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine in November have raised over $5 million all together, leading up to the June 18 primary election.

With Virginia’s primary elections less than a week away, who’s in the lead in the money race? And where is that money coming from? And where did it go?

The five candidates have spent $4.7 million collectively, according to reports compiled by the Federal Election Commission. Their expenses range from cars, books, travel and petition signatures to meals and gas on the road between campaign stops.

Out of the five candidates, Hung Cao raised the most in itemized individual contributions from Virginians and Chuck Smith raised the least.

Eddie Garcia raised the highest percentage of dollars raised from donors in the commonwealth and Scott Parkinson raised the least percentage, according to FEC data on itemized individual donations.

Take a look at how much money each candidate raised throughout the life of their campaign, and how much they spent below:

Hung Cao

Hung Cao
Hung Cao

A retired Navy Captain, Hung Cao ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 2022 race for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.

Cao’s Senate campaign has come under scrutiny recently after an article outlined the misuse of funds by a super PAC that he helped to launch in early 2023. That super PAC, Unleash America, was meant to support Republican state-level candidates in Virginia’s 2023 election, according to radio and news interviews Cao took part in, early that year. Money raised by the PAC instead went to people and companies associated with Cao’s current U.S. Senate campaign.

Cao has repeatedly attacked the news outlet that published the story instead of answering questions about super PAC spending.

Those reports prompted attacks and debate challenges from his primary opponents which have largely gone ignored by Cao.

Super PAC spending aside, Cao’s campaign is the fundraising leader among the swath of Republican hopefuls. His primary Senate campaign committee, Hung Cao for Virginia, has recieved over $2.5 million since January 2023.

Here’s a breakdown of those dollars:

  • Individual campaign contributions, itemized by the FEC: $1,354,461

    • Most of that money came from out-of-state contributions. About $545,377, or 40%, came from individual donors in Virginia, according to FEC data.

  • Individual campaign contributions less than $200, not itemized by the FEC: $1,142,979

  • Contributions from other campaign committees or PACs: $9,852

  • Other receipts: $1,269

How was that money spent?

Cao spent about $2.3 million of the money raised, leaving him with $202,637 cash on hand going into the June 18 contest.

Some of his campaign’s highest ticket expenses include $762,854 for WinRed e-merchant fees; $368,280 for fundraising consulting from companies based around the country; $328,622 for printing and mailing services; and $180,500 for signatures from a company based in Wyoming. Cao also spent about $34,708 in airfare, lodging and transportation costs over the life of his campaign according to data from the Federal Election Commission.

Jonathan Emord

Jonathan W. Emord
Jonathan W. Emord

Jonathan Emord narrowly beat the former second place holder in Virginia’s Republican U.S. Senate campaign money race, in the last filing period before the primary election.

Emord is a constitutional lawyer who owns his own practice. He served as an attorney for the Federal Communications Commission during the Reagan Administration and has authored several books about politics.

He received $932,828 since September 2022 for his campaign’s primary committee, Emord For Senate Inc., according to FEC filings.

Here’s a breakdown of those dollars:

  • Individual campaign contributions, itemized by the FEC: $234,081

    • Most of that money came from out-of-state contributions. About $72,750, or 31%, came from individual donors in Virginia, according to FEC data.

  • Individual campaign contributions less than $200, not itemized by the FEC: $59,900

  • Contributions from other campaign committees or PACs: $1,358

  • Emord contributed or loaned his own campaign: $636,488

  • Offsets to operating expenditures: $1,000

How was that money spent?

Emord spent $897,923 of the money raised, leaving him with $34,905 cash on hand going into the June 18 contest.

Some of his campaign’s highest ticket expenses include a $128,872 in-kind purchase of vehicles from a seller based in Clifton. Emord said he purchased the vehicles with personal funds and loaned them to the campaign, when asked by USA Today. He said the vehicles were misidentified in the FEC reports and that he had asked that the reports be amended.

Emord also spent $78,000 in-kind expenses for printing books that he authored, for fundraising purposes, from a printer based in Virginia; and $36,795 for fundraising-related travel, lodging and event-related clothing purchases.

Those travel expenses included multi-day fundraising events with donors in California, Florida, Utah, and Arizona over the course of a year, Emord said. The expenses covered hotels, lodging and transportation for staff at the events, he said.

Scott Parkinson

Scott Thomas Parkinson
Scott Thomas Parkinson

Parkinson is the Vice President for Government Affairs at the conservative non-profit, Club For Growth. He worked as Chief of Staff in 2018 for Gov. Ron DeSantis, when he was a U.S. House Representative and before he was elected governor of Florida.

Dropping down to third place in the money race, he has raised $930,240 since April 2023 for his Senate campaign through Parkinson For Senate, his primary campaign committee.

Here’s a breakdown of those dollars:

  • Individual campaign contributions, itemized by the FEC: $615,616

    • Most of that money came from out-of-state contributions. About $180,840, or 29%, came from individual donors in Virginia, according to FEC data.

  • Individual campaign contributions less than $200, not itemized by the FEC: $199,898

  • Contributions from other campaign committees or PACs: $107,625

  • Parkinson contribution to his own campaign: $6,600

  • Offsets to operating expenditures: $500

How was that money spent?

Parkinson spent $601,089 of the money raised, leaving him with $329,151 cash on hand going into the June 18 contest.

Some of his campaign’s highest ticket expenses include a $257,031 for mailers, postage and printing from shops based in Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Massachusetts; $19,208 for petitioning related costs; and $9,282 in travel and milage expenses, according to FEC data.

Chuck Smith

C. L. "Chuck" Smith, Jr.
C. L. "Chuck" Smith, Jr.

Smith is a former Marine and current lawyer. He narrowly lost the Republican nomination for Virginia Attorney General in 2021.

He raised $556,762 since January 2022 for his campaign’s primary committee, Chuck Smith for US Senate, according to FEC filings.

Here’s a breakdown of those dollars:

  • Individual campaign contributions, itemized by the FEC: $190,348

    • Most of that money came from out-of-state contributions. About $71,539, or 37%, came from individual donors in Virginia, according to FEC data.

  • Individual campaign contributions less than $200, not itemized by the FEC: $344,954

  • Contributions from other campaign committees or PACs: $0

  • Smith loaned his own campaign: $19,300

  • Offsets to operating expenditures and other receipts: $2,159

How was that money spent?

Smith spent $536,262 of the money raised, leaving him with $20,499 cash on hand going into the June 18 contest.

Some of his campaign’s highest ticket expenses include $333,939 for postage and printing mailers; and $23,016 for petition signature services from shops based in Virginia and Florida, according to FEC data.

Edward “Eddie” Garcia, Jr.

Edward C. "Eddie" Garcia Jr.
Edward C. "Eddie" Garcia Jr.

A newcomer to campaign politics and self-proclaimed underdog in the race, Garcia retired out of the Pentagon in 2022. A 22-year Army veteran and former ranger with 6 combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Garcia spent a cumulative three years in combat zones.

He raised $340,558 since October 2022 through his campaign’s primary committee, Garcia for Virginia, according to FEC filings.

Here’s a breakdown of those dollars:

  • Individual campaign contributions, itemized by the FEC: $151,455

    • Less than half of that money came from out-of-state contributions. About $88,957, or 58%, came from individual donors in Virginia, according to FEC data.

  • Individual campaign contributions less than $200, not itemized by the FEC: $100,796

  • Contributions from other campaign committees or PACs: $1,305

  • Garcia contributed or loaned his own campaign: $82,000

  • Offsets to operating expenses: $5,001

How was that money spent?

Garcia spent $315,309 of the money raised, leaving him with $25,249 cash on hand going into the June 18 contest.

Some of his campaign’s highest ticket expenses include $124,858 for campaign consulting from individuals and organizations based in Virginia, Texas, Washington, D.C., California, and Wisconsin; $34,574 for printing and mailing campaign literature from shops in Virginia and Texas; and $9,616 for food, gas, lodging and other travel expenses from around the commonwealth, according to FEC data.

This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Travel and petition signatures: Primary election spending in Virginia

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