A CLOSER LOOK AT ANGLE’S IMPRESSIVE HAUL…. Among many campaign observers, many jaws dropped this week when extremist Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) reported having raised a stunning $14 million in the last quarter. To put that in perspective, her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), who isn’t exactly a slouch in the fundraising department, he raised one-seventh the total of his Nevada rival over the same period.

But there was a catch that wasn’t evident when the Angle campaign made the announcement, and it’s an interesting story.

Not long after winning her primary with almost no money at all, Angle hired a controversial fundraising firm called Base Connect, which has a habit of raising huge sums for its GOP clients, and then taking exorbitant commissions/fees for itself.

As Justin Elliott reported in July, “For the past several election cycles, the firm’s M.O. has gone like this: find a longshot conservative candidate running against a well-established Democratic incumbent, then launch a national fundraising campaign by sending direct mail to a list of true-believing but small-time conservative donors around the country. The catch is that as much 75 or 80 or even 95 percent of the money raised is paid back to Base Connect and its ‘partner’ companies.”

Which brings us to this week, and Angle’s remarkable $14 million quarter. How much of that haul will the right-wing candidate have left for the closing weeks of the campaign? The answer makes a big difference.

Nevada Republican Sharron Angle announced earlier this week she raised a staggering $14 million between the start of July and the end of September. Observers seized on the impressive total as a sign her challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was gaining momentum.

But what her campaign failed to mention in its announcement was that the bulk of that money has already been spent…. Despite the impressive total — which was actually $14.3 million — Angle had only $4 million left in the bank as of Sept. 30.

Yes, despite that impressive quarterly report, Angle and Reid have about the same amount of money left in the bank for the campaign’s homestretch (though this doesn’t include the far-right “independent” groups that will be trying to buy the race on Angle’s behalf.) Angle raised over $14 million, but that’s much less impressive when one notices that she spent $12 million.

It’s unclear exactly how big a cut Base Connect has taken from Angle thus far, but it looks like more than a third of the money she raised went to paying for the fundraising itself, and that doesn’t include possible fees for Base Connect’s “partner” companies.

In other words, the massive quarterly report only told part of a larger story.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.