MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign announced Friday that he has fully paid off the debt he accrued during his short-lived presidential run, thanks largely to revenue generated by renting out his donor list in the closing weeks of the year.
Walker owed $1.2 million when he dropped out of the race in 2015 after 71 days. He promised to retire the debt by the end of 2016. By the end of November he had paid all but $140,000, according to federal campaign finance records.
Walker campaign adviser Joe Fadness forwarded reporters a copy of a memo he sent to Walker on Friday saying that the debt has been erased thanks to robust fundraising in December.
Federal campaign finance reports show the campaign raised $223,725 during the month, with more than half of that — $147,000 — coming from renting the governor's donor list to Granite Lists, which offers Republicans access to their colleagues' donor lists. The reports show the campaign raised $883,000 during the year through Granite List rentals. Overall, the campaign raised $1.5 million in 2016.
Fadness also released a letter the campaign sent to the Federal Election Commission on Friday, however, saying that the campaign had reached debt settlements with 10 vendors since the campaign ended in 2015. If the FEC approves the settlements those vendors will be paid in full, the letter said. Campaign officials said Friday evening that they fully expect the commission will sign off.
Fadness hinted strongly in the memo that Walker is in a strong position to mount a run for a third gubernatorial term. Fadness didn't specifically mention a run but told Walker he's showing strength at a crucial time and noted the governor has about 30 fundraising events scheduled for the first half of 2017.
Walker has said he is interested in running for a third term but won't officially announce his decision until work on the state budget is finished this summer. No Democrats have announced their candidacy, although Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, retired state Sen. Tim Cullen and current state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout have all been mentioned as possible contenders.
Associated Press writer Cara Lombardo contributed to this report.