In an April 2 posting on his weblog Political Punch, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper wrote that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) campaign "can be seen as cooking the books" because the campaign has not disclosed how much of the reported $26 million Clinton raised in the first three months of 2007 is available for primary election spending. While the phrase "cooking the books" might suggest wrongdoing or illegal activity by the Clinton campaign, the 2008 presidential campaigns "do not have to make detailed fundraising and spending reports public until April 15," as the Associated Press reported on April 2.
Moreover, other candidates have not given full information on their first-quarter fundraising. Tapper did not mention, for example, that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has also not disclosed how much of the funds he raised are for the primary. McCain reportedly said only that "most" of his money was for the primary campaign. Neither has McCain nor former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) disclosed the amount of cash each has on hand.
Tapper's Political Punch post, in full:
Sen. Hillary Clinton has a lot to crow about today, what with her record-setting $26 million fundraising quarter.
For some reason...
We don't know how much of that money is for the primary and how much is for the general. And that's significant. Because she cannot touch the general election money unless she wins the nomination.
And, until we know what the breakdown is, we won't know who actually "won" the money primary this quarter. It seems entirely possible, as of this writing, that someone else could have raised more primary funds.
Clinton's $26 million comes from 50,000 donors, we are told. Former Sen. John Edwards raised $14 miilion [sic] from 40,000 donors. Sen. Barack Obama raised an undisclosed sum from 83,000 donors.
In short - Clinton seems to have more major donors than the others, more donors giving the maximum allowed by campaign law -- $2300 for the primary. But I'm guessing since she seems to have relied a great deal on these major donors that a lot of them maxed out, giving $4600 total - $2300 for the primary, $2300 for the general election (to be returned if she doesn't get the nomination.)
The significance is that this can be seen as cooking the books since Team Clinton refused to differentiate as to how much of this money is for the primary and how much is for the general. Unlike, say, Edwards, who provided that breakdown.
None of the experts on this issue whom I have talked to think it's credible that the Clinton campaign wouldn't have an idea of the breakdown as of now. None.
Which means they were likely trying to get a big splashy headline about the $26 million ($36 million when you add the cash transferred from her 2006 Senate campaign account) without those niggling details about what she can actually spend.
But at a price, I think.