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Huntsman lends campaign $1M to pay off debts

Published July 15, 2012 10:47 am

Politics • Former presidential candidate still owes $234,000 to some vendors.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has loaned his presidential campaign another million dollars to pay off most of the debt left over from his failed bid.

In all, Huntsman has now forked over more than $5.1 million for his White House effort, which he abandoned days after a disappointing third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary in January.

The ex-governor, who has been critical of his Republican Party and the presidential primary process since, wrote several checks to his campaign in the last quarter, federal filings show, and didn't raise any money from outside donors.

Huntsman still owes $234,000 to some vendors, including some former advisers and fundraisers. At least two people awaiting payment are Richard Brothers and David Fischer, both of whom left Huntsman's campaign and publicly lambasted it.

Another consultant, Paul Collins, a pledged Huntsman delegate who switched to back Mitt Romney after Huntsman dropped out, is owed $22,500, a filing with the Federal Election Commission shows.

Some Huntsman vendors had hinted they might sue the former candidate if he didn't come through with money to pay the debts owed for campaign work, while other consultants said they were confident Huntsman, a multimillionaire, would make them whole.

The federal filings, however, show that Huntsman may have negotiated his outstanding debts.

Huntsman's media guru, Fred Davis of Strategic Perception Inc., for example, was owed $356,000 in Huntsman's April filing but was ultimately paid only $300,000.

"The campaign did pay the majority of what was due SPI," Davis said Saturday. "We'd work with Jon Huntsman again in a heartbeat."

Abby Huntsman Livingston, the ex-governor's daughter who is acting as his spokesman, said they are "thrilled with the progress we have made in satisfying our outstanding payables in the last quarter."

She added that Huntsman's sole focus is paying off the remaining debt but declined to say why some vendors were paid and others weren't in the last quarter.

Huntsman told The Salt Lake Tribune in March that he wanted to raise money to pay off half his debt and take care of the rest by himself. But he wasn't sure whether he'd ever raise money to pay his loans back.

"These are always complicated things," Huntsman said. "You always hope to get repaid. And if you're successful in politics, maybe that becomes a reality, but I mean if you look at [past candidates like] Hillary Clinton, they're still carrying massive debts years later, and they just chip away at it slowly."

Besides Huntsman's loans to his effort, his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., also contributed $2.2 million to the Our Destiny PAC, a political action committee that supported the ex-governor's bid but couldn't legally coordinate with his official campaign.

tburr@sltrib.com