The Most Surprising Ways 2024 Candidates Spent Donor Money

How political candidates spend their cash can say a lot about them: their instincts, their attention to detail, their care with money or lack thereof.

So last week’s year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission served as a sort of M.R.I. They showed how some campaigns had thrived, while others had suffered slowing flows of donor oxygen, uncontrolled spending hemorrhages, and good old-fashioned bloat. In some cases, the filings were more like an autopsy. (Tim Scott for President spent $16.8 million on media and advertising, and he was a goner before a single vote was cast.)

Then there were the weirder items.

For example, the $655,000 spent on “gift card redemption services” by Mayor Francis X. Suarez of Miami, a reminder of an ill-fated effort to entice donors to his dubiously viable presidential campaign. Or the $218,500 paid by one of former President Donald J. Trump’s political committees to Hervé Pierre Braillard — a stylist who has worked with Melania Trump — for “strategy consulting.”

Here are more examples of surprising or strange campaign spending.

You could be forgiven for missing him, but Ryan Binkley, a Texas pastor and businessman, continues to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

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