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Hey, Washington Post (and Other Investigators), How About Comparing Candidate Spending Habits?

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Let me preface: this is not a political endorsement for Donald Trump or anyone else. But the comedy and drama of this early campaign cycle sure is interesting. Among yesterday’s dramedy stories catching my attention: Washington Post on Mr. Trump telling super PACs to return contributions gathered in his name.

The presidential hopeful finances the campaign from his wealth and smaller donations from individual contributors. I got to wondering: Wouldn’t a candidate largely using his own money spend differently from someone getting to what amounts to free cash? There’s a stereotype that people spend their own (say, savings) more prudentially than what comes easily and freely (like credit). Is there a difference this early on among the would-be nominees in how or where they spend on the respective campaigns? 

Maybe some news investigator has done an early analysis, and I missed it. If not, now is time to start and monitor as long as Trump continues collecting contributions the same way, while tapping personal coffers. Independent, and investigative, journalism is supposed to serve the public interest and be non-partisan. Surely thorough analysis of spending habits based on source serves the public good. Spending stories aren’t new, of course, but wouldn’t this one be different? I see a great opportunity for Washington Post, ProPublica, or another investigative news org to practice data journalism.

Maybe Trump is as free with his own money as his rivals are with everyone else’s. Or maybe his spending is tighter, more deliberate. I don’t know, but I would like to. Wouldn’t you?

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