Many blogs have already been written of Congressman Allen West's Friday announcement that he'd raised well over $2 million between April and the end of June. What we didn't know until Sunday afternoon, however, was how he spent it. Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission reveal West took in more than $2.2 million this quarter but spent $1.9 million of it: hundreds of thousands in direct-mail costs, $420,000 on a June TV ad buy, $1,600 on a photo shoot last month.
But the documents also show travel costs for plane tickets, hotels, and meals incurred on the road, highlighting that not only is West bringing in contributions from every state in the union but he (and his staff) are traveling extensively to collect it. Here are eight places West has held fundraisers way, way outside of his new district.
(Events are listed in approximate chronological order; purchase dates on plane tickets and hotel reservations could be different from actual dates of fundraisers.)
1. New York, New York: 1,200 miles away
Records show West's campaign paid the Women's National Republican Club $500 for "room rental and food" on April 4. There's also a Jet Blue "flight to NY fundraiser" plane ticket to New York for $214 purchased April 6, and another $741 to the Women's Club at the end of April. Coincidentally, he was also a "surprise dinner guest" at the club's April 23 awards dinner.
2. Valencia, California: 2,700 miles away
$290 for a hotel on May 7, plus two $326 plane tickets to California.
3. Los Angeles: 2,650 miles away
$126.29 for a hotel in LA on May 8, plus $453 paid to Delta Airlines and $686 to United for flights to...
4. Oklahoma City: 1,400 miles away
May 16 has a $233 expense for an Oklahoma hotel, plus two meals at an Oklahoma City Marriott on May 17.
5. Denver: 2,000 miles away
This one was a doozy: According to the Denver Republican Party's website, you could either eat breakfast or lunch with West for the low price of $500. If you happened to be busy the morning of June 4, you could also chip in $500 and meet him at the rifle range at 2 p.m.
Reflected in records as a $665 payment to Delta Airlines on May 21, plus $845 in hotel costs June 6 to Towneplace Suites in Colorado. Records also show the campaign spent $311 on breakfast at the Chinook Tavern in Greenwood Village, Colorado, on June 7.
6. Houston: 1,100 miles away
Delta Airlines got another $960 for flights to Houston on May 22.
7. Birmingham, Alabama: 700 miles away
$431 to a Renaissance hotel for lodging on June 4, plus $439 in airline costs on June 8 to get to the Pittsburgh of the South.
8. Atlanta: 600 miles away
West spent almost $800 on hotels in his home city toward the end of June, plus more than $300 in airfare.
Nobody's saying West can't go where he wants and pocket all the cash he can -- but the GOP's most famous freshman sure is building up a lot of financial allegiances outside of District 18.