Rep. Krishnamoorthi outspends challenger by $1.9 million in re-election campaigning

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US House Office of Photography

Raja Krishnamoorthi's most recent official photo.

Illinois representative Raja Krishnamoorthi spent $1.9 million more on campaigning than his 8th congressional district challenger for the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Krishnamoorthi’s challenger, Jitendra Diganver, spent $51,859, or about three percent of how much Krishnamoorthi spent. Krishnamoorthi won 66% of the vote against Diganver. 

For the 2018 midterm election cycle, Krishnamoorthi spent $1,964,491 and was the 9th largest spender out of the 18 Illinois representatives.

Krishnamoorthi, is a Democratic representative for Illinois’ 8th district. He was elected in 2016 and replaced Tammy Duckworth, who gave up her seat and successfully ran for the U.S. Senate.

In 2018, victorious House candidates spent just over $2 million on average, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks campaign fundraising and spending.  

For House seats, more than 90% of candidates who spend the most win, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. From 2000 to 2016, the only election when that wasn’t true was in 2010.

In contrast to the gap in spending between Krishnamoorthi and Diganver, in the 6th congressional district, both candidates raised and spent millions of dollars. Incumbent Roskam and Democratic challenger Sean Casten each spent about $7.2 million and $6.4 million, respectively. 

The FEC prohibits spending campaign funds on clothing, vacations, household food items, school tuition, utilities, payments to recreational facilities and entertainment not associated with the election campaign.

Of Krishnamoorthi’s campaign expenditures, his largest disbursement was $688,618, or a little over a third of his campaign funds. It was paid to Adelstein & Associates LLC., a digital media company that worked with Barack Obama and helped elect several government officials. Along with Krishnamoorthi, fellow Illinois representative Brad Schneider’s largest disbursement for 2018 was to Adelstein & Associates as well, at $1,181,500. 

In the previous election cycle, Krishnamoorthi’s largest disbursement was also to Adelstein & Associates. He spent more in 2016 than in 2018 with $1.4 million.

Typically, advertising is a major expense for campaigns, according to Travis Ridout, professor at Washington State University. Ridout said that in 2012 and 2014, the average House campaign spent 33% of its budget on ads. 

The second largest expenditure of Krishnamoorthi in the 2018 cycle was to Paylocity Payroll, a provider of web-based payroll and human resource software. Krishnamoorthi paid Paylocity $160,722, or about eight percent of his campaign funds. 

In comparison to the 2016 cycle, Krishnamoorthi’s second-largest expenditure was to Mission Control, Inc., a company that offers direct mail strategy service for campaigns. He paid Mission Control $235,840 for direct mail service. In 2018, Krishnamoorthi spent significantly less on direct mail and paid Mission Control $16,475, or seven percent of what he paid in 2016.

The third largest expenditure of Krishnamoorthi for the 2018 cycle was GPS Impact, a full service creative and ad placement agency. Krishnamoorthi paid GPS Impact $152,975 for a variety of services, including digital media, online advertising and campaign consulting. 

In the 2016 cycle, Krishnamoorthi’s third largest expenditure was to the democratic party of Illinois. He gave the democratic party of Illinois $114,000. In 2018, the democratic party was far from one of Krishnamoorthi’s largest disbursements. As his 46th largest disbursement in 2018, Krishnamoorthi gave the democratic party of Illinois $5,263.

The fourth largest disbursement of Krishnamoorthi for the 2018 cycle was to a CITI Biz credit card. His campaign used its CITI Biz credit card to pay bills of $140,459. Krishnmamoorthi used the credit card to purchase airplane tickets, food catering, storage rent, printing and to make donations. For airplane tickets, Krishnamoorthi mainly purchased tickets from United Airlines and American Airlines. 

Campaign spending has come under scrutiny in recent years. In 2018, representative Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter were indicted and accused of spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Expenses included a vacation to Italy and family dental bills. 

In 2015, then Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock resigned his seat following scrutiny of how he spent taxpayer-funded campaign funds weeks after a Washington Post article detailed how Schock redesigned his Washington D.C. office to resemble a set from the popular drama “Downton Abbey”. Schock reportedly spent $40,000 on the redecoration and was later indicted on 24 criminal counts, including wire fraud and theft of government funds. He was cleared of all charges after completing a deal with federal prosecutors.

The document of the indictment of the Hunters stated, “Campaign funds raised by candidates and Members of Congress are largely restricted to supporting the candidate’s election (or re-election) efforts and duties in office, and cannot be used for their own or their family’s personal use or enjoyment.”

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