Newspaper article Roll Call

Without an Opponent, Jeff Sessions Still Spends

Newspaper article Roll Call

Without an Opponent, Jeff Sessions Still Spends

Article excerpt

How does a senator running unopposed for re-election in a red state during a good year for Republicans manage to spend nearly $1 million?

It adds up fast.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has nothing to worry about next Tuesday. Still, his campaign logged $996,988 in spending from January 2013 through September 2014, including more than $7,000 on Christmas cards.

Phyllis Spurlock, finance director of the Friends of Sessions Senate Committee, said some of the funds from Sessions' campaign committee have gone to help the state, local and national parties, but that the Alabama Republican basically runs as if he has an opponent.

"We would always do it that way," Spurlock said, adding, "He never takes it for granted."

So what's different about this campaign and his last, when he won a fourth term with 63.4 percent of the vote over Democratic candidate Vivian Figures in 2008? Sessions has a smaller campaign staff and isn't spending this year on television ads or yard signs.

After all, those aren't necessary: Sessions made news earlier this year when for the first time in Alabama's history no Democrat was running for an in-cycle Senate seat. Sessions also was unopposed in the primary.

It wasn't all for himself. This January through September, he gave roughly half of the $1.07 million he raised this cycle to other political action committees, including $500,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee working to reclaim control of the chamber.

The $483,388 Sessions spent on operating expenses -- including payroll, supplies, travel and meals -- are typical costs according to campaign finance experts.

Sessions paid Republican fundraiser Elizabeth Conatser $112,000 in 16 payments of $7,000 each for consulting services. (Conatser, profiled in Roll Call when she opened her own firm in 2003, has been paid by numerous other Republican candidates for consulting. …

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