I don’t know how I missed this item last week: Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller took a look at Newt Gingrich’s campaign filings and found where a big chunk of the sometime-Georgian’s $1 million campaign debt came from:
He blames his consultants who resigned en masse last month. But the Gingrich campaign’s FEC report shows that nearly half of the debt comes from charting private airplanes. More specifically, the campaign owes $451,946.00 to Moby Dick Airways LTD.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond tells me Gingrich was unaware of the financial situation until the consultants left. Once problems became apparent, Gingrich made several changes — “part of which included replacing private travel with commercial.”
(H/t: Hot Air)
While the stories about Gingrich’s charge account at Tiffany’s and Mediterranean vacation would seem to corroborate the former speaker’s expensive tastes — and perhaps a sense of entitlement about how members of the political class are supposed to live — this report is more damning than those in my mind.
Nothing about this is good: It is inconceivable that Gingrich was unaware either that he was flying in chartered airplanes — rather than, you know, waiting for Zone 4 to be called for Delta Flight 2568 to Des Moines — or that a chartered flight was the more expensive option. And while plenty of political candidates use chartered planes to make their campaigning more time-efficient, it doesn’t behoove a candidate for president who says he can right the nation’s finances not to know that his campaign couldn’t afford such an expense.
This story isn’t about class warfare or populist bashing of the private-jet industry. It concerns not how he spent his own money, which is his right to do as he sees fit, but his use of money entrusted to him as a candidate for elected office. It isn’t very becoming of a would-be fiscal fixer.
At this point, however, stories like this are less about the 2012 presidential race than the denouement of a once-powerful Georgian’s political career.
– By Kyle Wingfield