Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the Republican nominee for Mississippi governor, loaned his campaign $1.3 million in the final days before the close election with Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.
Campaign finance records show that Reeves loaned his campaign $300,000 on Oct. 21. A few days later on Oct. 31, five days before Election Day, Reeves loaned his campaign an additional $1 million, signing campaign finance filings with his home address in Flowood.
Tate Reeves campaign loan 10/31/19 (PDF)
Candidates for statewide office routinely loan their campaigns money in close races. The practice is legal. If Reeves were to win, he could pay back the loans with future donations to the same campaign account. If he were to lose, he could pay back the loans with leftover cash from the campaign account or take the loan as a personal loss.
The Reeves campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the loans.
Cash on hand in the waning days of a campaign is vital to a victory in a close race. Prognosticators believe Reeves and Hood are running within five points of each other, and last-minute targeted ads on television and social media are pricey.
So far this year, the Reeves campaign has spent at least $10.8 million, according to Oct. 29 pre-election campaign finance filings with the Secretary of State. Reeves’ $300,000 loan was included in that filing, but because the $1 million loan came after that October 29 filing, it was not included in that $10.8 million spending figure.
Hood has spent $5.2 million this year, less than half of Reeves’ total, according to campaign finance reports. Hood has not made a similar cash loan to his campaign this year.
Reeves also appears to be taking advantage of an old campaign finance law that would allow him to keep money from an older account set up before the Legislature passed new campaign funding regulations. In 2017, changes to the state’s campaign finance law were passed that barred public officials from spending campaign money on personal expenses.
The law went into effect in 2018, but several candidates, including Reeves, kept previous accounts open with money that had been donated before the law changed.
As of Oct. 29, Reeves’ old campaign account held $1.9 million. If nothing from that fund is used before Election Day, Reeves could keep and spend it however he wants whether he wins or loses this week.
Public polling shows neither candidate with majority, making undecided voters crucial in what has shaped up as the most competitive state elections since the early 2000s.
Reeves in recent days has received reinforcements from Republicans in Mississippi and Washington to shore up a victory. President Donald Trump visited Tupelo on Reeves’ behalf on Friday. Vice President Mike Pence visited Biloxi on Monday, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited Jackson on Thursday.
Donald Trump Jr. visited the state in late October for a Reeves fundraiser.
Two other lesser-known candidates are running in the governor’s race on Tuesday: Constitution Party candidate Bob Hickingbottom and Independent David Singletary.