How political candidates spend their cash can say a lot about them: their instincts, their attention to detail, their care with money or lack thereof.
So last week’s year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission served as a sort of M.R.I. They showed how some campaigns had thrived, while others had suffered slowing flows of donor oxygen, uncontrolled spending hemorrhages, and good old-fashioned bloat. In some cases, the filings were more like an autopsy. (Tim Scott for President spent $16.8 million on media and advertising, and he was a goner before a single vote was cast.)
Then there were the weirder items.
For example, the $655,000 spent on “gift card redemption services” by Mayor Francis X. Suarez of Miami, a reminder of an ill-fated effort to entice donors to his dubiously viable presidential campaign. Or the $218,500 paid by one of former President Donald J. Trump’s political committees to Hervé Pierre Braillard — a stylist who has worked with Melania Trump — for “strategy consulting.”
Here are more examples of surprising or strange campaign spending.
Trucker hats and ‘collateral’ items
You could be forgiven for missing him, but Ryan Binkley, a Texas pastor and businessman, continues to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
And he has somehow spent $772,000 on hats.
His filing lamentably provides few details, but according to this photograph from The New Hampshire Union Leader, at least one of the hats is a trucker design emblazoned with the letters “W.T.F.” — “Way to Freedom.” The overall hat expense was part of a $5 million outlay to Victory Enterprises, a political consulting group in Iowa.
“To date, the Binkley campaign has produced more than 50,000 hats,” said Heath Flock, the director of Mr. Binkley’s campaign. “Yes, this is a lot of hats.”