Kamala Harris Spent $1.5 Million on Firm That Boosted Bernie Sanders

Harris, a likely presidential contender, is not up for reelection until 2022

Sen. Kamala Harris / Getty Images
September 14, 2018

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), a likely presidential contender, has spent $2.3 million on digital advertisements this election cycle despite not being up for reelection until 2022, money that has primarily gone to a firm that helped boost Sen. Bernie Sanders's dark horse campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Harris's campaign reported operating expenditures of $3.9 million between Jan. 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Of that amount, $2.4 million went towards advertisements, or slightly more than 60 percent of Harris's operating expenditures, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Harris has poured $1.4 million into advertisements with Revolution Messaging LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive firm that has won numerous awards for the work it did on behalf of Sanders's 2016 campaign.

"In the spring of 2015, before the campaign launched, we knew Bernie Sanders was a leader who stood on the right side of history," Revolution states on its 2016 efforts. "But Bernie was polling around 3 percent, had no establishment support, little name recognition and was running against a popular and "inevitable" Democratic primary opponent. We had our work cut out for us. With no offline fundraising team, no Super PAC, and no Wall Street money, we would have to raise almost all of the campaign's money from small-dollar donations."

Harris also paid Revolution $154,289.62 for campaign consulting, website, and videography services so far this cycle, filings show.

Harris spent $915,085.08 on web advertisements with Authentic Campaigns, Inc., a D.C.-based full-service digital strategy company that was founded by the former vice president of campaigns at Revolution Messaging. Harris additionally paid $268,750 to Authentic Campaigns for campaign consulting.

The Democratic senator is spending more than vulnerable Democratic senators who face voters this November.

Democratic senator Bill Nelson, who is in a tough race against Republican Rick Scott in Florida, has spent $1.4 million on advertisements this cycle, according to a Center for Responsive Politics compilation of Democratic spending for the midterm elections.

Democratic senator Claire McCaskill, also in a tough race against Republican Josh Hawley in Missouri, has spent $1.3 million on advertisements for the November elections.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), also considered a likely 2020 contender, like Harris has spent $2.4 million on advertisements. However, unlike Harris, Warren is up for reelection this year.

Harris's campaign rented office space last year from a small travel agency on Capitol Hill, which is more than 2,800 miles away from her home state of California, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported. Payments to the travel company have since stopped

Harris also filled her Capitol Hill office last year with a number of former Hillary Clinton campaign veterans.

"Given the current political landscape and state of constant campaigning that we're in, it's not surprising that someone with clear presidential ambitions would open an office where they can hire operatives, raise money, and grow their footprint," a presidential campaign veteran told the Free Beacon last year.

"It's clear she thinks she is a national figure and wants to become a national candidate, but that comes with risks. Constituents don't like to be neglected by their elected officials and if she ignores issues directly affecting California so she can focus on the news of the day in D.C., there will be backlash."

Harris's campaign did not respond to requests for comments on the amount the senator has spent on advertisements by press time.