Home Politics Republicans upset that Herschel Walker has millions in unspent campaign funds

Republicans upset that Herschel Walker has millions in unspent campaign funds

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Herschel Walker, who entered the 2022 Georgia Senate race with the support of Donald Trump, ended his failed campaign with more than $5 million in the bank.

Few are clamoring for Herschel Walker’s return to politics since he failed in his Georgia Senate bid nearly two years ago. But I’m sure they’re interested in his campaign money.

Georgia and national Republicans, who desperately need money, are furious that Walker has more than $4 million in leftover campaign funds and appears to have no intention of using them to help the GOP or Donald Trump in the key battleground state. battle in November.

With the Georgia GOP nearly bankrupt and the Republican National Committee regularly outspent its Democratic counterpart, Republicans say Walker’s unspent millions could go a long way toward addressing the GOP’s liquidity crisis.

“Those resources were requested and given to support his candidacy as a Georgia Republican, and unless he intends to use them again for his own candidacy, I hope they return the favor,” said John Watson, former chairman of the state Republican Party. from Georgia. “Georgia Republicans should be supported by those dollars in any legal way the campaign can.”

Since the political newcomer and former football star lost to Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock In the high-profile race, he has virtually disappeared from political circles. Walker had a good run during the primary, but his campaign was plagued by multiple personal scandals, revealing children born out of wedlock and covert abortions that undermined his campaign pitch of conservative values. Warnock consistently out-fundraised him, and his campaign strategy was undermined by Walker’s interference.

After the race, Walker eventually re-enrolled at the University of Georgia to finish his college career, the same school where he won a Heisman Trophy as a student decades ago.

When contacted by phone, Walker denied his seven-figure bank balance of unspent funds in his campaign account.

“It wasn’t money that was left in my account. Everybody keeps saying that,” Walker said.

When asked to clarify what he meant, Walker quickly ended the call and said he was writing an article. He said “we might talk about it at some point,” but did not respond to multiple additional inquiries, including most recently last week.

A Georgia Republican strategist with knowledge of Walker’s campaign said unspent funds should be refunded to donors, shared with Republican committees or used to help Trump in the 2024 race.

“Republicans are spending more everywhere throughout the vote and there is a significant amount of resources there,” said the strategist, who was granted anonymity to discuss the issue. “It could be supporting Trump, who did a lot for Herschel’s campaign.”

Walker, a former NFL running back who entered the 2022 Georgia Senate race with Trump’s endorsement, ended his failed campaign with more than $5 million in the bank. He still had $4.3 million in his account at the end of March, according to the latest financial filings filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Walker transferred $100,000 to the National Republican Senate Committee’s legal recount fund and has donated about $400,000 to various nonprofits and charities. But most of the money left over from the campaign is still in his account.

The FEC limits what campaign funds can be spent on. The money must be used for electoral purposes (in a campaign or transferred to another active committee) or Walker could donate it to charity. Walker and his treasurer remain administrators of the funds and cannot transfer the money directly to Walker.

But campaign money could help the GOP’s bottom line.

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the Georgia Republican Party had $1.2 million in cash on hand. He now reports having less than half that amount. It is also spending a significant portion ($1.9 million as of early 2021) of its funds on legal fees for Republicans charged in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ election extortion case. according to the latest financial declaration forms.

Georgia Republican Party Chairman Josh McKoon, who raises funds for the state party, declined to discuss any personal conversations he had with Walker about unspent campaign funds.

This year, state Republicans are focused on the presidential race and maintaining their majorities in the state legislature, and a Georgia Republican strategist, Brian Robinson, said Walker’s money would be better used to help legislative candidates in competitive districts. .

“I would give money directly to candidates at the legislative level because to maintain majorities in Georgia, we really have to fight here,” he said.

A senior national GOP official said Republicans have not heard from Walker in months and were not aware of any party committee or campaign currently seeking verification of Walker’s old campaign account.

But Walker has been giving away some of his campaign money, though not primarily to the party.

Although Republicans complain that Walker has not contributed money to the party, the campaign committee donated about $410,000, mostly to nonprofits such as the Horatio Alger Association, the Boys and Girls Club, and Herschel’s 34 and Johnson City Class. of 1980, a nonprofit that has been registered since 2016 in Walker’s hometown of Wrightsville, Georgia, according to FEC filings.

He also donated $100,000 to Polaris Action Inc, a group focused on national security that was founded by Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department official in the Trump administration who supported Walker on the campaign trail.

“No one would be surprised if, when you start spending that money, it goes to any group of newly formed charities in or around Dallas, Texas,” said a second Republican operative from Georgia, referencing where Walker lived before running. for the Senate in Georgia.

Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.

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