While Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, just ran the most expensive congressional race in Utah history - costing $909,962 - many of the costs were not for basic, traditional campaigning.
That includes the $4,895 in 1989-90 campaign money that helped him finish his payments on a 1986 Ford Bronco. That's not to mention the $1,046 the campaign spent for car insurance or the $2,781 it spent on car repairs.Or the $13,228 in donations his campaign gave to other Democratic candidates.
Or the $3,750 he spent to buy gift books for campaign workers and supporters. Or the $1,575 victory dinner he threw for his campaign staff at the Hilton. Or the $1,200 in bonuses he gave to paid campaign staffers.
Those are examples of personal expenses and campaign luxuries that incumbents can afford - but cash-starved challengers cannot - especially because of special-interest money that flows more abundantly to incumbents.
Such spending may also inflate the true cost needed to run a campaign and may make some donors wonder about fund-raising letters that usually contend more money is needed urgently.
After-election forms filed with the Federal Election Commission reveal the frugality that House challengers in Utah endured and the relative lavishness that incumbents enjoyed.
That's because incumbents more easily attract contributions from special-interest political-action committees, which tend to invest with politicians who are proven winners. For example, Owens received $845,678 in donations with $420,783 from PACs. Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, received $224,904 in donations with $141,501 from PACS.
Challengers generally received much less. Republican Genevieve Atwood received $262,619 in donations with $82,801 from PACs. Democrat Kenley Brunsdale received $106,496 in donations with $66,850 from PACs. Republican Karl Snow received $247,500 in donations with $107,091 from PACs. And Rep.-elect Bill Orton received $28,537 in donations and $21,500 from PACS.
Like Owens, Hansen - the only other incumbent in Utah congressional races - used campaign money to finish payments on a car. His campaign paid off a $10,000 loan earlier this year on a $22,555 Chevrolet Suburban bought after the 1988 election. Hansen said it is for campaign use in Utah.
Hansen's campaign also spent $211 on car repairs, $234.88 on car taxes and $820.20 on car insurance.
None of the non-incumbent House candidates spent any money to buy, insure or repair cars.
(Of note, Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who were not up for re-election this year, have also spent campaign money on cars. Garn bought a $16,234 Jeep recently, and Hatch pays car insurance and car phone bills with campaign funds).
Both Owens and Hansen also put relatives on their campaign payrolls - while the Deseret News could find no instance of non-incumbents doing so.
Owens hired his son Stephen as a volunteer coordinator and paid him $7,138. Hansen paid his daughter Jenny $1,345 and his daughter-in-law Amy Hansen $7,922 for campaign work.
Also like Owens, Hansen's campaign donated money to another candidate - but only one, $250 to Rep. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. Owens' campaign spread $13,228.55 to 12 candidates nationwide.
Hansen's and Owens' campaigns also spent hundreds on flowers for funerals or other events. Hansen spent $578.02 and Owens spent $493.03. Among challengers, only Snow spent money on flowers - $65.64.
Owens had several other expenses that were unique among Utah candidates, including: $500 to help a group of homeless children travel to Washington to lobby; $1,118 for staff car phones; $620 for wine for a campaign dinner honoring House Speaker Tom Foley; $1,373 for a dinner with mayors; and $299 for a lunch with Democratic state legislators.
Also, $1,200 to send Christmas cards; $326 to join the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce; $2,673 for a picnic with organized labor leaders; and $415 for tickets to the Legislative Ball and the Jefferson-Jackson fund-raising dinner.
Among challengers, the only spending that seems remotely similar were some expenses by Snow, including $210 for LDS Foundation events tickets; $722.35 for a cellular phone; $3,000 for a subsistence payment to himself.
Owens spent at least $50,000 on non-traditional luxury or personal expenses - or not much less than Rep.-elect Orton spent on his entire, successful campaign.
Hansen also spent at least $21,000 on such expenses - or about a ninth of the money spent on his campaign.
All such spending is legal. Rules simply require that all expenditures be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.