The campaign finance deadline for the second quarter of this month revealed many details about the health of political campaigns across the country: how much money they have, how they spend it and what they get for their cash.
But the thousands of pages of presentations also include a myriad of other stories, shedding some light on the spending preferences of the 2024 presidential candidates, their travel habits, and even what they and their staff like to eat.
Here’s a look at some of the other details in the second quarter fundraising reports from the presidential campaigns that caught our eye:
A collector’s item?
Not surprisingly, travel was former Vice President Mike Pence’s top spending category. — running for president means a lot of traveling. But the biggest expense of him stood out.
More than a third of the $74,000 his campaign spent in total last quarter was paid to Mecum Auctions, which specializes in collectible cars and motorcycles.
It’s unclear exactly what the Pence campaign got for the money: The expense description simply says «travel,» and when asked to clarify exactly what it was spent on, a Pence spokesperson replied: «Travel.»
A warning sign for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was how much he was spending, considering how much of his second-quarter fundraising came from donors who already gave him the legal maximum and can’t donate again.
That made the DeSantis campaign’s significant spending on private jets stand out. The campaign spent about $175,000 on aviation companies in his first six weeks as a candidate.
Also worth noting: Nearly $500,000 of expenses listed as travel went to a group called «N2024D LLC,» a group that shares an address with several political groups and is affiliated with a prominent campaign compliance firm. It is not clear from the files exactly what the money was spent on.
A self-financer who isn’t afraid to find a deal
Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy stands out in the race as one of the candidates who is spending millions of his own personal wealth on his bid (more than $15 million so far).
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re allergic to finding a deal.
An exploration of its second-quarter outlays includes a handful of companies that appeal to the discount-friendly crowd: more than $500 for furniture and office supplies at TJ Maxx, more than $1,600 for HotelTonight and $300 at Frontier Airlines.
A father goes out on the track
Ramaswamy’s report also includes about $900 for a Massachusetts-area store that specializes in baby items.
Ramaswamy is not just the youngest frontrunner in the field; he is also the father of two young children. Campaign spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin told NBC News the payment was made to equip the campaign bus with child seats so her children can join her on the road.
RFK receives a check from Eric Clapton, but has to return it
Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign appears to have received financial backing from legendary guitarist Eric Clapton.
His file shows a check for $5,000 from an Englishman named Clapton, who bills himself as a «self-employed musician.»
But it is illegal to accept donations from foreign citizens, and the Kennedy campaign notes in its presentation that it will be return of the donation in the following quarter.
Take sides in barbecue wars
As one of two South Carolina-based campaigns, Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s team has a clear preference for barbecue: the home team’s barbecue, which he spent about $1,400 on last quarter.
South Carolina is serious about its barbecue, especially in its war with its neighbor to the north (the debate over mustard, vinegar, or ketchup-based barbecue sauce is a legendary source of conflict in the region). And while there’s no shortage of good barbecue in Charleston, Hometeam regularly earns praise among locals and critics alike.
That’s not to say the campaign has no taste for the finer things either: He also spent about $4,500 at the Capital Grille steakhouse chain.
sarah dean and Alexandra Marquez contributed.