By Rebecca Ballhaus
As potential 2016 presidential candidates begin to lay the groundwork for their campaigns, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s efforts are emerging as the most aggressive. As a front page story in the Journal noted, Mr. Paul has announced political hires in three states key to winning the GOP nomination, and staffers aren’t shy about referencing a future campaign headquarters and touting their expansive email lists.
As Mr. Paul continues a three-day tour through Iowa, a look at how 2016 prospective presidential candidates have been spending their money over the past year and a half shows some likely Republican candidates like Mr. Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio aren’t just talking about running—they’re putting millions of dollars into the effort.
Mr. Paul has raised $7.8 million in the past 18 months through his re-election account, leadership PAC and a super PAC run by supporters. Nearly half that amount—$3.3 million—has been spent on fundraising and consulting, which includes salaries, polling, research, voter targeting, direct mail and telemarketing, according to a Wall Street Journal review of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Paul’s three accounts have spent $111,000 on media and advertising, and another $700,000 on administrative costs such as office rent and accounting, legal and compliance fees.
Of the $5.1 million total spent by the Paul accounts, about $150,000 has gone toward contributions to other candidates and committees. The super PAC run by Paul supporters also spent $32,000 backing failed North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has raised the most money of prospective GOP presidential contenders, bringing in $9.2 million since 2013 through his leadership PAC and campaign committee. Mr. Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012, hasn’t ruled out running, but other potential candidates say he appears more interested in serving in senior House positions. Mr. Ryan, running for re-election this year, has spent nearly $3.3 million on fundraising and consulting, and another $250,000 on media and advertising. Still, his two accounts have contributed far more to other candidates and committees than Mr. Paul’s, giving $730,000 away since 2013.
Mr. Rubio’s accounts have also spent heavily on fundraising and consulting, paying out $1.9 million over the last 18 months. The Florida senator’s leadership PAC and campaign account have raised $5.5 million in that time, and have contributed $150,000 to other candidates and committees, in addition to spending another $400,000 on other candidates’ behalf.Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has visited Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina—the first three states on the traditional nominating calendar—more times than Mr. Paul. But he has spent less than other potential contenders on fundraising and consulting efforts, paying out $1.2 million since 2013. The tea-party star has spent another $200,000 on media and advertising, and $600,000 on administrative costs. His accounts have contributed $75,000 to other candidates and committees, though his aides note that that cost doesn’t include appearances Mr. Cruz has made at fundraisers and other events that have benefited candidates.