Washington (CNN) – While revelers across the world prepared to ring in the new year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign committee spent the final day of 2009 chipping away at campaign debts owed to its sole remaining creditor.
According to records filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission, Clinton's committee spent part of New Year's Eve making six payments totaling $150,000 to the Democratic polling firm of Penn and Schoen. The campaign had once owed the firm $5.4 million, but had reduced that amount to $850,500 by the time the clock struck midnight on December 31. The former presidential hopeful's campaign debt is now at its lowest level since she first launched her campaign in early 2007.
The campaign reported having $1.7 million in the bank at the start of 2010, more than double the amount needed to pay off its remaining unpaid bills.
Clinton's debt reached its peak in June 2008 shortly after the former New York senator suspended her campaign. At that point, her presidential committee owed $12 million to almost 500 creditors and $13.2 million to the candidate herself, who dipped into her personal funds to help finance her campaign. Campaign finance laws forced Clinton to forgive the amount she loaned her committee because she was not able to repay the funds by the required deadline.
The campaign raised slightly more than $11,000 in contributions from October through December and generated an additional $125,000 from the rental of its campaign mailing lists to other organizations. Among those paying for the use of the Clinton mailing lists last quarter were the campaigns of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who paid about $1,050 for use of the list in his November re-election fight, and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, whose seat is up in 2012.
In addition to the $150,000 in debt repayment, the Clinton campaign spent an additional $280,000 in other operating expenses. The campaign reported spending $121,000 on "consulting/legal" expenses, $24,000 in "consulting/fundraising" expenses, and almost $57,000 in salaries.
A federal law known as the "Hatch Act" prohibits Secretary Clinton and other federal government employees from personally soliciting or accepting political contributions. The law does allow others to raise funds on Clinton's behalf, without her direct involvement.