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In Why do US politicians spend so much on campaigns when the salary is not high enough to justify the expenditure?, it is mentioned that Hillary Clinton has $30 million of debt from her 2008 campaign.

One shall assume that $30 million in debt means campaign spending that wasn't covered by donations.

Where do they get the credit from? If it's anything like running a business, getting a credit line for an unproven business oftentimes requires making a personal guarantee for repayment — doesn't this imply she has had to make a personal guarantee? Who is responsible for all this debt?

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  • My impression is that they're not loans but donations, so they don't have to pay it back. I think they only spend what they get. But I could be totally wrong on that. Nov 26, 2015 at 13:09
  • @PointlessSpike, donations aren't debt; debt does have to be repaid.
    – cnst
    Nov 26, 2015 at 22:49
  • I just read your comments on the other question. I think there's some doubt as to whether it's actual debt or just donations. I'm not seeing any actual evidence either way. Nov 27, 2015 at 8:14
  • Not enough for an answer, but ABC News had an interesting article on this. Jan 15, 2019 at 4:14

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Where do they get the credit from? If it's anything like running a business, getting a credit line for an unproven business oftentimes requires making a personal guarantee for repayment — doesn't this imply she has had to make a personal guarantee? Who is responsible for all this debt?

I can't speak to this specific case, but usually, loans are made on an unsecured basis without a guarantee with the understanding that if the campaign doesn't raise enough money that it will not be possible to collect the debt. Generally speaking donations and loans are to "The Committee to Re-Elect JANE CANDIDATE" and not to the individual. When the loans can't be collected, they become donations whether they were originally intended to be donations or not.

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    but why would a bank make a loan they don't expect to collect on? And how could they give such a large loan as a "donation" without breaking campaign finance laws
    – user23920
    Jul 20, 2019 at 4:00
  • @Agustus -- The second half of your comment would make a good question. (And the first half of your comment would help provide context for that question.)
    – Jasper
    Jul 21, 2019 at 5:23
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For someone who is rich like Hillary Clinton, it is common for the candidate herself to loan the campaign money. Then she can pay herself back after winning from donations made while in office. Or she can run for another office, collect more donations, and pay off the debt from that.

Some suppliers may also allow the campaign to operate on credit. These are generally run by supporters. So if they don't get paid, they don't feel put out.

It is going to be somewhat rare to loan a campaign money with the idea that the campaign will pay it back. After all, about half of all campaigns lose. It should also be noted that incumbents (candidates who win) have much higher fundraising than challengers. If a campaign has any debt whatsoever, it's hard to pay it back because they have no basis for fundraising. And if the campaign already had funds, then why did it go into debt?

Beyond that, the Federal Elections Committee treats loans and other debt as contributions until paid, with some exceptions for loans from a bank or brokerage.

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  • "It is going to be somewhat rare to loan a campaign money with the idea that the campaign will pay it back. After all, about half of all campaigns lose." — this particular point doesn't make much sense — just because the campaign didn't win the election, doesn't at all imply that they've had to spend money through the nose and get into a significant amount of debt.
    – cnst
    Jul 20, 2019 at 4:54
  • Also "about half of all campaigns lose" seems suspect - Just looking at the current primaries, there can only be one Democratic candidate selected, meaning there will be what? Twenty something losers? And this is not uncommon for primaries. Most offices tend to enjoy more than two candidates, so even if we look beyond presidential contests, it seems that the average would be much worse than one in two. Unless you are only considering the presidential general election, in which case the number would still be somewhat low since there are often many third party candidates.
    – cpcodes
    Jul 22, 2019 at 15:54

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