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Presidential candidates spare no expense to gain your vote

If you’ve been losing sleep over the impending apocalypse that will follow Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency, you’re not the only one. Fortunately, I found a cure: reading campaign financial disclosures on the Federal Election Commission’s website ( fec.org).

I examined the five remaining candidates’ expenditures between April 2015 and January 2016. More than $330 million was spent by their combined campaigns. More than 60,000 line items, and I read them all. You’re welcome, America!

Here’s what I learned:

• Ted Cruz is a hopeless romantic who likes to have flowers at every caucus — or perhaps he’s frequently apologizing to his wife. He ordered flowers 62 times, draining $6,237 of his $40,744,495 budget. Literacy is important: He spent $250,000 buying copies of his book, “A Time for Truth,” from HarperCollins Publishers in Pittsburgh.

• Marco Rubio spent a portion of his $31,830,495 in quarters — $239 at the Iowa Fun City Arcade, likely practicing debate strategy by playing Whac-A-Mole. While visiting Pittsburgh, he spent $4,408 at the Duquesne Club, which has pool tables but no skeeball.

• Bernie Sanders spent his $80,729,110 while living up to his common-man image. In Austin, he spent $252 to hire Little Guy Movers. In New Hampshire, he hired Common Man Caterers. Apparently, there is a Socialist Yellow Pages.

In Las Vegas, he went on a mad spending spree, buying $186 in office supplies at the 99 Cent or Less store. (I am not making any of this up.)

While other candidates threw lavish parties, Bernie spent $600 at Circus Circus Casino, a discount dump where vagrant clowns go to die. He decorated the venue with $275 worth of décor from the Las Vegas Goodwill. (Yes, really.)

True to socialist form, he feeds the masses, spending $3,000 at Dunkin Donuts, much to the disappointment of his followers, who were expecting him to miraculously produce loaves and fishes.

• Hillary Clinton is the big spender in the bunch. She had $95,891,194 in expenditures, including $100,000 in valet parking and $816 to rent a luxury portable toilet with ceramic sinks and tinted skylights.

Other highlights include $21,088 to Lady Gaga, $20,000 in music rights, $300 for a petting zoo and $3,221 in glow sticks. Apparently, she knows how to throw a rave!

Hillary also hires only the best people. For instance, Hillary paid herself more than $160,000 in payroll and benefits.

• When it comes to self-serving arrogance, one name stands in tacky gold letters above the rest: TRUMP®!

Surprisingly, at $23,677,801 in expenditures, The Donald is a little cheap.

What did the cotton candy-coiffed candidate spend his money on? Hats — $500,000 on red “Make America Great Again” hats. Because red armbands would just be too obvious.

While his Republican rivals spent thousands at conservative chicken chain Chick-fil-A, The Donald spent $6,000 eating at restaurants bearing his name, enjoying meals at the Trump Grill and Trump Café.

His campaign paid rent to Trump Tower, stayed at the Trump Hotel, Trump Soho, Trump International and Trump National Doral, and paid Trump Corp. $37,993 in expenses, which included buying the domain “ Donaldjtrump.com” from Trump. If I mention the name Trump five more times, I will meet the mandatory media quota, so here goes: Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.

• Last and least is McKees Rocks native John Kasich. His meager $7,141,157 is probably less than Hillary’s budget for pantsuits. Playing to his base, he spent $448 to advertise in New Hampshire’s Hawkeye Hunting and Fishing News amid the crappie articles. That would be an article about crappies, which is a fish.

Clearly, the candidates have spared no expense to get your vote. And no matter whom you support, isn’t it comforting to know that, win or lose, Ted will be sending The Donald flowers?

Joe Wos, creator of MazeToons and a freelance writer and cartoonist, is pop culture correspondent for WESA Radio.


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