BY: QUINN SCANLAN, ABC NEWS
(ATLANTA) — Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., has loaned millions of dollars to her Senate campaign this cycle, but Doug Collins, a House Republican lawmaker challenging the incumbent in the state’s November special election, received nearly $370,000 more in contributions during the second fundraising quarter of 2020, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
While Loeffler ended the quarter, which covers April through June, with millions more in her campaign war chest, Collins’ ability to net more in contributions from individuals could signal trouble for the sitting senator, who voters have yet to weigh in on at the ballot box. Loeffler was appointed to her seat by the state’s governor in December 2019 following former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement.
Collins netted about $1.28 million in contributions last quarter, and nearly all of that — 97% — was thanks to individual donors. Loeffler netted about $908,000 in contributions, but only 82% of that total came from individual donors. The rest came from political party committees, other political committees, like Political Actions Committees (PACs) and from Loeffler herself.
For this election cycle to date, Collins has only personally donated $60 to his campaign, but Loeffler has donated more than $88,000 to hers, including nearly $14,000 in the last quarter. There is no limit to how much money a candidate can put into his or her own campaign.
Neither candidate has yet to earn the coveted endorsement of President Donald Trump, whom both lawmakers joined during his trip to Atlanta Wednesday. Trump had been pushing Gov. Brian Kemp to choose Collins — one of his staunchest defenders during the impeachment saga — for the Senate seat, but Kemp ultimately went against Trump’s wishes.
Since Collins announced he’d still pursue the seat, challenging Loeffler, the president hasn’t publicly backed either of their bids, even though the national Republican Party’s Senate campaign arm is fully behind Loeffler.
The senator, who is extremely wealthy, has been mostly self-funding her bid.
In the second quarter, she loaned her campaign another $5 million, bringing the total amount she’s loaned so far to $15 million, none of which has been paid back yet. Before becoming senator, Loeffler co-founded and served as CEO of Bakkt, a Bitcoin futures trading platform, and her and husband Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, were Republican mega-donors.
This latest loan helped her end the quarter with just over $7 million cash-on-hand. Collins reported $2.65 million cash-on-hand.
“Senator Loeffler is building a substantial war chest ahead of the November election,” communications director Stephen Lawson said in a statement Wednesday. “In addition to having a vast resource advantage, Kelly has also built a robust field operation, contacting tens of thousands of voters each week and mobilizing grassroots supporters in all 159 counties… it’s obvious that Kelly Loeffler has the clearest path to winning in November.”
The Collins campaign, however, think’s he’s the best choice, pointing to the hundreds of thousands of dollars more he raised from individuals.
“Raising money — especially from small donors — is a great barometer of support and it is clear that Doug has a dedicated grassroots army marching with him,” said Collins campaign spokesman Dan McLagan. “Kelly Loeffler is mainly supported by Kelly Loeffler, her super wealthy stock-exchange-owning husband, and a bunch of lobbyists. She leads a very small and lonely parade.”
According to his campaign, more than 14,000 individuals donated to Collins’ bid in the second quarter, and the average donation was about $92.
In the press release about her fundraising, Loeffler’s campaign touted her cash-on-hand figure and that she reported $5.9 million in total receipts — but that total includes the massive loan. The release made no mention of how most of that money did not come from contributions, or anything about the number of individual donors or what the average donation was. ABC News has asked her campaign for these figures, and has not gotten a response yet.
Loeffler also significantly outspent Collins between April and June. According to the FEC filings, the senator’s campaign spent just under $5 million on operating expenditures while the congressman’s campaign only spent about $840,000.
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