Mike Pence Sought Public Funds as 2024 Presidential Bid Collapsed

Former Vice President Mike Pence sought public financing for his failed presidential primary campaign, a highly unusual move that, if successful, would make him the first Republican in more than a decade to receive such money, according to undisclosed Federal Election Commission documents. previously. .

Beginning in the post-Watergate era, the federal government allowed this Presidential candidates to apply for and receive public dollars. But the program has become outdated because it imposes strict spending limits on anyone who participates, at a time when the cost of nationwide election campaigns has soared.

Even applying for the money is generally seen as a sign of desperation because the program’s limits are so onerous.

Mr. Pence, who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s vice president in 2016 and 2020 before challenging him last year, has struggled to gain traction in the 2024 Republican race from the start.

Campaigning as an embodiment of the GOP’s old guard and warning that Trump’s populism was the answer “The road to ruin,” Mr. Pence raised about $5.3 million last year, found little support in public polls and withdrew in late October when faced with the prospect of not qualifying for another debate.

Federal records show that Mr. Pence’s campaign committee had more than $1.3 million in outstanding debt as of the end of March. Qualifying for public funds now should help him pay those bills.

A spokesman for Mr. Pence did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was not clear why Mr. Pence’s request for public funds was not responded to last fall. On Tuesday, the Federal Election Commission published an eligibility report from its audit division on the application, as well as a memo from the Office of General Counsel on the matter. There is a discussion on the agenda for Thursday’s committee meeting.

There are strict limits to qualify for the public funding program, including raising $5,000 in at least 20 different states. Candidates themselves must not spend more than $50,000 of their own money.

Notably, Mr. Pence had initially provided his campaign with $150,000 in July 2023. But he refunded $100,000 of that amount on October 3, weeks before he withdrew, records show. The move likely makes him eligible for public funds, but it also shows that he may have been considering exiting the race for weeks before his resignation. Federal Election Commission documents released Tuesday indicate he applied for public funds on October 12.

In a sign of the program’s increasing irrelevance, no Democrats or Republicans used the program in 2020.

The last major party candidate to take advantage of the program in a primary was Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who ran for president in 2016 as a Democrat and received just over $1 million in public funds. The last major party candidate to receive similar money in a general election was John McCain in his 2008 Republican campaign.

Barack Obama’s decision in that 2008 campaign Withdrawal from the public financing system It is widely viewed as the functional end of a general election campaign platform.

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