Center wins first Pulitzer!

Black lung investigation honored

Get more award-winning investigations:

The odd debts presidential candidates still owe

Race car drivers, student newspapers and Twitter among White House hopefuls' creditors

By

 Updated:

If President Barack Obama wants to better fund education, he might start by making good on the $13,515 his campaign owes Virginia State University, or pay the campaign's $5,575 bill to the public school system of Springfield, Ohio.

Homeland security? The St. Cloud State University Public Safety Department could probably use $785 due to it from Obama for America.

And an investment in domestic energy could certainly come in the form of Obama erasing $512 worth of red ink with Nebraska's Omaha Public Power District.

These are just a few of the more curious liabilities the Obama campaign carried with it into 2013, according to documents filed last week with Federal Election Commission. In all, the Obama campaign has nearly $5.9 million in debt yet to clear.

To be sure, it's hardly uncommon for presidential candidates of yore to owe vendors money.

Some, like Democrat Hillary Clinton, spent years paying off campaign debt before closing shop. Others, from Republican Rudy Giuliani to Democrat John Edwards, simply let it ride, offering no indication that they'll ever clear their accounts. 

They typically owe money to big-time, if pedestrian political players: lawyers, consultants, advertising firms, travel providers and such. Most of Obama's creditors also fit these categories. 

But that doesn't mean little guys are immune from wondering when would-be leaders of the free world intend to settle up.

Consider Republican Newt Gingrich's committee.

Among the former House speaker's $4.66 million worth of presidential debts heading into 2013: $17,000 to California-based Peace River Company for photography, nearly $13,000 to Twitter for advertisements and more than $7,000 to Las Vegas Color Graphics for signs and bumper stickers. He also owes more than $16,500 for "strategic consulting/travel" to a group run by fellow GOP presidential also-ran Herman Cain.

Republican Rick Santorum's presidential committee still owes NASCAR auto racing team Front Row Motorsports $15,000 for a car sponsorship, according to its latest disclosures.

The brief and turbulent presidential campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has paid down much of its once massive debt, but she still owes more than $119,600 to a variety of vendors, including $688 to a golf cart supplier in Omaha, Neb., federal records show.

For Obama, he also still owes Sound Concepts Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, more than $37,000 for "staging, sound, lighting" services.

Canadian outfit 1-800-GOT-JUNK? continues to eat more than $15,000 worth of "equipment maintenance" services it provided the campaign.  

And the saffers who run The Dartmouth newspaper at New Hampshire's Dartmouth University are also presidential campaign creditors, waiting for Obama for America to make good on a $2,375 advertising bill.