Nice Work If You Can Get It

The first post-Citizens United presidential contest saw a lot of money of questionable provenance sloshing through the political system, including the spectacle of a single donor more or less sustaining a candidacy long after its natural expiration date had passed.

But we learn today from CREW that the money donated to GOP candidates was a gift that kept on giving even after candidacies had totally given up the ghost:

The campaigns collectively spent more than $15 million after the candidates dropped out, with 27 percent of that spending taking place more than two months after candidates suspended their campaigns. Mr. Cain’s campaign spent $4.9 million after he left the race, the largest amount of any of the candidates, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who kept his diminished campaign alive through the Republican nominating convention in August, spent the least – $792,566.

The candidates reported spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on private jets, consulting, and even payments to family and other insiders after suspending their campaigns.

At $2.8 million, Rick Santorum came in second in post-campaign spending, just as he did in the contest itself. Next up, however, was Jon Huntsman, who spent $2.6 million after a campaign that might be described as having immediately crashed if it had ever taken off.

In any event, we have a new answer to the perennial question of why candidates with no realistic chance decide to run for president: the gig comes with one hell of an expense account.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.