Among the debts reported this month by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, the $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff stands out.
Clinton, who is being pressured to end her campaign against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, has made her plan for universal health care a centerpiece of her agenda.
The campaign provides health insurance to all its employees, their spouses, partners and children – and that wasn’t interrupted by any lag in payments to insurance providers, said Jay Carson, a Clinton campaign spokesman.
He said the campaign this month paid off all outstanding bills to Aetna Healthcare and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. Those payments will be reflected on a report the campaign will file this month with the Federal Election Commission, which Carson said will show “zero debt owed to both vendors.”
“Sometimes invoices are not paid immediately because we need additional information for our records, or to verify expenses,” Carson said in a statement e-mailed to Politico. “Sometimes invoices arrive at the very end of the month at the cutoff of the reporting period, which means that we are required to report them as a debt on the current FEC report, even where they are paid in regular course during the next month.”
But the unpaid bills to Aetna were at least two months old, according to FEC filings.
They show the campaign ended last year owing Aetna more than $213,000 for “employee benefits.”
During the first two months of the year, the campaign did not pay down any of that debt. In fact, it accrued another $16,000 in unpaid bills last month, and it finished the month owing Aetna $229,000.
Though the campaign reported owing $63,000 to Carefirst at the end of February for employee benefits, it appears Clinton paid that company on a more frequent basis. The New York senator’s presidential campaign began the month owing $299,000 to Carefirst, but paid that amount in its entirety, and the $63,000 it owed at the end of the month appears to be from services rendered last month.
Campaigns resemble businesses in many ways. Like businesses, one of their biggest costs is salaries, payroll taxes and the benefits of their employees. Also like businesses, they tend to carry unpaid bills as debt from week-to-week or even month-to-month.
But Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, did not report any unpaid bills to insurance providers at the end of February. And the only insurance-related debt reported by Obama, an Illinois senator, was $908 to AIG American International Group for “insurance.”
Their campaigns also reported substantially less debt overall than Clinton’s, which owed $8.7 million at the end of February. Obama owed $625,000 and McCain $4.3 million, though most of his debt was from a bank loan, and only $1.3 million was in the form of unpaid bills to a dozen vendors.
Carson stressed that Clinton’s campaign pays all its bills “regularly and in the normal course of business.”