Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is bleeding cash. And a big reason why appears to be an antiquated, higher-end approach to electoral politics that the former vice president has adopted.
Biden’s team spent more than $923,000 on private jets during the third quarter of 2019, according to recently filed Federal Election Commission data. The expenses, all made to the company EJCR, LLC Dba Advanced Aviation Team, represented a major chunk of change—accounting for roughly one out of every 16 dollars the campaign raised.
It’s not uncommon for candidates to lean on private jets as they crisscross the country in an effort to keep a schedule packed with speeches, rallies, and debates. But a review of Biden’s expenditures suggest that a good deal of what he’s spending money on currently involve efforts to simply raise more money.
The former vice president spent more than $230,000 on “fundraising consultants” during Q3; nearly $500,000 on direct mail; and major chunks of change on high-end hotels in cities that serve as donor hubs but aren’t centrally located in early-voting states. During the third quarter period, the Biden campaign spent more than $20,000 at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City; more than $14,000 at the Coronado Island Marriott in San Diego; more than $4,400 at the Hotel Jerome Auberge in Aspen; more than $10,500 at the W Hotel in Los Angeles, and more than $3,000 at the Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho.
While the campaign’s major expenses involved traditional campaign functions like payroll (which was nearly $9 million), office rentals, and digital advertising, the campaign also spent heavily on consultants—including several big-named aides.
During Q3, the Biden campaign spent $228,378 on research consultants and $150,400 on “strategic consultants.” The firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research Inc., run by longtime Biden pollster John Anzalone, received more than $122,000 for polling. And two well-known Biden advisers, Bruce Reed and Anthony Blinken, received $35,000 and $10,500 respectively for “policy consulting.”
Asked what type of policy work he was doing, Reed told The Daily Beast only: “Domestic.”
Collectively, the expenditures have taken a toll on the Biden campaign’s bottom line and raised questions about its long-term viability. Overall, Biden currently has less than $9 million cash on-hand after taking in roughly $15.7 million during Q3 and spending $17.6 million during that same period.
Asked for comment, a Biden aide noted that some of the cost of the private jet travel was for carbon offsets. As for the broader financial picture, Biden, standing outside of the IBEW Electrical Trade Center in Columbus, Ohio, told reporters that he was not worried about his campaign’s financial situation.
“We are doing fine. Fundraising is building, we’ve raised a lot of money online, and we’ve raised money offline as well. So we feel confident we're going to be ready,” said Biden.
But Democrats who have worked on past campaigns that bled cash recognize some similarities.
“When you are a candidate running for president, the other thing to keep in mind is, it is a difficult and rigorous schedule, and to the extent there are creature comforts that people have, they are going to do whatever they can to make the person comfortable,” said Phil Singer, who worked as a press hand for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, which also ended up in difficult financial straits. “But it is something they will have to solve fairly soon. Money, after all, doesn’t grow on trees.”
—With additional reporting from Jackie Kucinich.