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Gingrich Ran Up Huge Debt In March, Raised Little Money

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WASHINGTON -- The presidential campaign of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has been a roller coaster from the beginning. He's been up, then down and then up again. But this time, it looks like he will wind up down for the count and deep in the red.

In March, the Gingrich campaign ran up a massive trail of debt as his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination faded into the background. The campaign ended last month with $4.3 million in debt, up from $1.5 million at the end of February, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The debts run up by the campaign in March include payments for ordinary campaign consulting work, massive spending on private jets, expenses at a private security firm, and payments to staffers who had to cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

The campaign's most absurd unpaid expenses were more than $1 million to the private jet company Moby Dick Airways, nearly $450,000 to a security firm, and more than $500,000 in travel reimbursements and other payments to individual staffers and consultants.

The nearly $450,000 owed to The Patriot Group, a security firm based in Virginia, is in spite of the Secret Service providing protection beginning March 6. Gingrich's campaign made good on another payment totaling $31,500 to The Patriot Group in March. In February, a Ron Paul supporter filed suit against the Gingrich campaign and The Patriot Group accusing a security officer from the firm of stomping on his foot, causing a fracture.

HuffPost's Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson previously reported that dozens of Gingrich vendors believed they had been stiffed and would never see payment from the campaign. "We got burned," one vendor told them.

Gingrich is still in the race, but it is unclear how much more he can do in this campaign. He raised $1.6 million in March, down from his high of $5.5 million in January. The campaign burned through $2 million and ended the month with $1.2 million cash on hand, not nearly enough to cover all of its debts.

Recently, the candidate sought to rent his list of donors to get money to pay down his debts. He also started to charge people who want to have their photo taken with him.

The debt compiled by the campaign should come as no surprise to Gingrich watchers. HuffPost's Christina Wilkie documented a 30-year history of debt-ridden organizations that Gingrich has left in his wake.

"Since 1984, Gingrich has launched 12 politically oriented organizations and initiatives based in Washington. Of those, five have been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the House Ethics Committee, another five closed down with debts totaling more than $500,000, and two were subject to legal action," Wilkie reported.

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