Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Has Unexpected Money Problems

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Reno on Feb. 15. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Reno on Feb. 15. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign had planned for any number of troubles on her path toward the Democratic nomination; money was never supposed to be among them.

Now, at a critical point in the race, Clinton finds herself under financial stress. The Bernie Sanders money machine keeps churning, sweeping up millions of dollars more than the Clinton campaign has been able to find of late, positioning the democratic socialist from Vermont to compete in states where he was never expected to be a threat.

As Clinton’s network of fundraisers in cash-rich regions like Los Angeles and the Bay Area struggle to fill events where tickets typically cost $2,700 — the maximum a donor can give in the primary — Sanders is not holding any. His money comes almost entirely online, and keeps coming and coming, far faster and more steadily than small donations do on Clinton’s website.

Clinton’s rainmakers have grown anxious. She began the year with $10 million more in the bank than Sanders, but that cushion is disappearing fast.

“The pond is getting fished out. Everyone is sending invitations to the same group of people. And those people have already given as much as they are allowed to give,” warned a Clinton loyalist in Los Angeles who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the campaign.

“There are only so many people in Hollywood with $2,700 to give. Eventually you burn through them,” said another political insider, an advisor to wealthy donors in Los Angeles. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on the fraught issue of cash.

Clinton will again be fishing for contributions in California on Sunday and Monday, when she has events planned up and down the coast. Yet her campaign anticipates that Sanders will raise more than her in February, as he did last month.

The super PACs that support Clinton have additional tens of millions of dollars sitting in their accounts. But that money can provide only little help right now. The largest such PAC, Priorities USA, has put up $5 million for efforts to increase minority turnout in the next several primary states, a move that would presumably help Clinton, who has drawn more support than Sanders from blacks and Latinos.

But several factors limit the role the PACs can play: Clinton has no control over the super PAC money, and she has said publicly that she would prefer that the people who do control it use it to fight Republicans this fall. And any super PAC attacks on Sanders would create a host of headaches for her campaign.

Raising money from Wall Street, which has backed Clinton in the past, also would prove problematic right now. Clinton is locked in “Goldman handcuffs,” a term increasingly used in the campaign to describe the constraint generated by Sanders’ criticism of the huge speaking fees she has collected from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms.

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SOURCE: Evan Halper
The Los Angeles Times