WASHINGTON — Newt Gingrich, whose quixotic presidential bid has been dogged by financial problems, racked up nearly $3 million in new debt for private jet flights, security consultants and travel costs in March even as his campaign teetered on the edge of collapse, according to new disclosures.
The former House speaker entered April with $4.3 million in total debt, up from $1.5 million the month before, according to reports filed late Friday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). He raised $1.6 million, spent $2 million and reported having $1.2 million cash on hand.
The Gingrich campaign’s top debts for March include $1.1 million to Moby Dick Airways, a private air charter broker; $450,000 to Patriot Group, a Warrenton, Va.-based security firm; and $178,000 to Event Strategies of Alexandria, Va., for “event production.” Gingrich is listed as being owed $271,775 for travel costs, and numerous other employees and consultants claim similar travel debts, the records show.
The disclosures outline what has become a typical scenario for Gingrich in his topsy-turvy, year-long campaign for the White House, which nearly imploded last summer amid runaway spending and staff defections. Financial problems also have swallowed the private consulting empire he built after leaving the House in the late 1990s, including a private health-care think tank that filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.
Gingrich rose in the polls and began to claw his way out of debt during a series of strong Republican candidates’ debate performances last fall, but his prospects have plummeted since his surprise win in the South Carolina primary in January. The main thing keeping Gingrich alive for much of the primary season was Winning Our Future, a super PAC that was funded almost exclusively by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his relatives. Adelson’s wife, Miriam, gave the group an additional $5 million in March, bringing the Adelson family total to $21 million, according to new disclosures.
Gingrich has steadfastly refused to leave the race despite having no reasonable prospect of defeating Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, while continuing to solicit money and support as he campaigns across the country.
“Please take a moment to get involved with my campaign and make calls to voters,” Gingrich wrote in a Twitter message Thursday.
Gingrich has had a particular penchant for racking up travel-related expenses with vendors such as Moby Dick, which arranges charter jet travel for Republicans and has done millions of dollars in business with Gingrich over the years. One defunct Gingrich group called American Solutions for Winning the Future paid Moby Dick $6.6 million over a period of four years, records show.