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Romney campaign took out $20-million loan, still owes $11 million

WASHINGTON -- Hamstrung by campaign finance laws, the Mitt Romney campaign sought a $20-million loan last month, a campaign official confirmed Tuesday, of which $11 million still needs to be repaid.

Romney’s fundraising this summer has been prolific, stringing together three consecutive months of raising more than $100 million for his presidential bid. But there was a catch: Until late August, he couldn’t spend a good portion of that money. The result: the $20-million loan.

That liability pales in comparison to Romney’s cash reserves. The campaign announced this month that Romney Victory -- the joint fundraising effort between the Romney campaign and the Republican Party -- ended August with $168.5 million in the bank.

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The National Review Online first reported the loan Tuesday evening.

Even though the general election started in earnest in April, when Romney sewed up the GOP nomination, the former Massachusetts governor could not tap into his vast general election funds until he was formally nominated at the Republican National Convention, which was held in the last week of August. Instead, he was limited to funds earmarked for the primaries, much of which had been depleted during his costly race against the other GOP contenders.

The Romney campaign pointed to those constraints back in July to explain the paucity of television advertising from the campaign.

National Review Online’s Robert Costa reported that the Romney camp used funds sitting in the campaign’s general election account as collateral for the $20-million loan from the Bank of Georgetown. The campaign paid back $5 million in August and $4 million this month, bringing its total debts to $11 million.

A Romney campaign official did not respond to questions as to why the campaign sought a loan from the bank, as opposed to a personal loan from the candidate. In his 2008 run, Romney infused his campaign with $45 million of his own funds.

The campaign for President Obama carries its own debts; its July report showed the campaign owed $2.3 million to a number of vendors.

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melanie.mason@latimes.com

Twitter: @melmason


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