Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, spent more last year campaigning than such candidates in hot contests as Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, and Democratic House candidate Kenley Brunsdale.

But Hatch wasn't even up for election last year - while Orton and Brunsdale were - and Hatch won't be again until 1994. But that didn't stop him from raising $174,487, and spending $163,615.Meanwhile in comparison, Orton spent $88,237 and Brunsdale spent $124,387 in their close House races.

And while some of Hatch's money went for traditional campaign expenses - such as a $10,000 Dan Jones & Associates poll in June, more than four years before his next election - much also went for non-traditional items.

They included spending nearly $11,000 on Christmas cards; padding his top aide's Senate salary by $24,000; paying for the lease, insurance, car phone and repairs on a van used by him and his Utah office; and donating $14,000 to other candidates and party committees.

That's according to year-end reports that Hatch filed with the Federal Election Commission. All such expenses are legal. The law puts few restrictions on their use, but requires full disclosure.

But some watchdog groups worry about conflicts of interest because much of incumbents' campaign money that covers fairly personal expenses such as car payments comes from special-interest political action committees wishing to influence Congress. President Bush has proposed outlawing PACs.

Like Hatch, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, who next faces election in 1992, also spent campaign money in the off-election 1990 in some unique ways - but not as much. Garn spent $45,456 and raised $25,196.

Of the money Garn spent in the last six months, $1,100 went for child care, $2,337 for car insurance and taxes, $1,000 each in contributions to Republican Genevieve Atwood and Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., and $1,129 to buy 100 copies of his novel, "Night Launch," to give to campaign donors and volunteers.

But Hatch's expenses were more lavish, and included:

- $24,000 to pad the Senate salary of his administrative assistant, Kevin McGuiness - whose annual pay rate was $93,858, according to the most recent report of the secretary of the Senate. McGuiness was near the top of the allowed pay scale.

- $326 a month on lease payments for a campaign van, plus in the last six months of the year $986 on cellular phone costs, $506 on insurance and $592 on car repairs.

- $10,657 to print and send Christmas cards.

- $225 in the last six months of the year on books to give as gifts. The campaign also spent $17 on a book about how to speak Romanian.

- $8,000 in the last six months of the year in contributions to eight U.S. Senate candidates (all of whom but one - Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, lost). Also $1,000 to the Nebraska Republican Party and $5,000 to the Utah Republican Party.

- $395 in the last six months of the year on candy.

- $864 in the last six months of the year on flowers, for such things as funerals.

Some of the special interests that donated to Hatch's campaign funds in the past six months include the Auto Dealers and Drivers for Free Trade PAC, Life Insurance PAC, Sandoz Employee PAC, Shearson Lehman Hutton PAC and the International Taxicab Association.

Hatch and Garn have adamantly rejected suggestions by such groups as Common Cause that PAC contributions may buy votes or influence.