As former Missouri state treasurer Sarah Steelman prepares to embark on another campaign for office, she still has not paid off the $875,000 debt she owes vendors from her last campaign, and according to one unpaid vendor, has become unresponsive to calls requesting payments.
The debts are from Steelman’s Senate Republican primary run in 2012, which she ultimately lost to former Rep. Todd Akin. She is now seeking the Republican nomination in the special election to replace Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned last month.
According to the most recent FEC report, Steelman’s Senate campaign still owes $875,693 to various vendors.
She has paid off $15,000 in debts since the last filing in October.
It is not uncommon for campaigns to finish with substantial debts, or for those debts to linger unpaid for years. Hillary Clinton finally paid off the debt from her 2008 presidential campaign this January, four years later.
But according to one vendor who has not yet been paid, Steelman promised at the start of the campaign that hers would not be a campaign that left vendors holding the check.
Yet in the months following the end of the campaign, the vendor said, the Steelman campaign became unresponsive to calls from vendors.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been stiffed by a client, and I’m sure it won’t be the last unfortunately,” said the vendor, who was still taken aback.
“It’s just amazing that she would do this, especially after positioning herself as a friend of small business, and a Christian whose word was her bond,” the vendor said.
Steelman told The Daily Caller that she was not trying to bilk her vendors, but that the campaign simply did not have the money to pay off the debts yet. She said that if she had become unresponsive, it was because she had been busy dealing with personal issues.
“I have some family issues, my mother was very ill and actually passed away and had been dealing with my dad and my father and getting all that in order after the campaign,” she said.
“And I have been trying to raise money, but the campaign itself doesn’t have any money, but I’m trying to raise money,” she went on. “Because if I were a vendor I’d be frustrated too. So I want to get them paid.”
“So I have various phone calls out to different people about helping me raise back some money to pay the debt,” she added.
Asked whether she felt it was a problem to launch another campaign with such a large debt outstanding, Steelman declined to comment further.
The Daily Caller contacted multiple other vendors still owed money by the Steelman campaign, but repeated calls and emails were not returned. Those that answered declined to provide any information.