03/20/2012 10:22 pm ET

Mitt Romney Fundraising In February Strong, But Spending Reflected Hard Choices

Mitt Romney, the winner of Tuesday night's big contest in Illinois, also won another contest when he reported that his campaign raised $11.5 million in the month of February, more than any of the other Republican contenders.

According to numbers from the Federal Election Commission, this was Romney's best month of fundraising yet, but poor fundraising among small donors continued.* The candidate continued to rely on big donations to his campaign with checks of $2,500 or more. Combined, these donors provided about $6.6 million, or 57 percent, of the total contributed in February. Small donors, those giving less than $200, accounted for fewer than 10 percent of the contributions to his campaign in February.

February wasn't such a kind month for Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy. He lost three races in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri catapulting Rick Santorum into direct competition with Romney, the presumptive frontrunner.

In February, the Romney campaign spent $12.3 million, down from the $18.7 million it exhausted in January during the tough campaigns in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, according to the FEC. The reduction in spending is, however, only related to one campaign expense: paid advertising, most prominently television.

In January, the campaign spent $8.4 million placement on television and radio, and in newspapers. In February, the campaign spent $2.6 million on these expenses. That difference of $5.8 million is incredibly close to the spending difference of $6.4 million overall between the January and February reports. This also explains, partly, how Santorum was able to emerge in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri in February as he faced little to no paid opposition prior to Michigan.

The campaign raised money in February from most of the expected sources including executives and employees of banks, investment firms, private equity, and hedge funds. Employees from Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo combined to give $81,070 in February. The company with the most contributions from employees to the Romney campaign in February was the insurance company Aetna with $43,000. Employees at Liberty Mutual, another insurance company, kicked in $38,750.

Thirteen lobbyists also reported bundling contributions for Romney's campaign. The lobbyists, some of them newly listed as campaign bundlers, helped raise $545,005 for the campaign. So far in this election cycle Washington lobbyists have helped to raise $2.88 million for the Romney campaign.

Romney's campaign ended February with $7.2 million cash on hand and, unlike his competitors, no debt.

*A previous HuffPost report noted a much higher percentage of small donors to the Romney campaign in February. That previous number was calculated using numbers provided by the campaign; those numbers do not reflect the full number of small donors reported in the FEC filing for the month of February.