Gingrich campaign bounces a check for $500

Late yesterday news broke that Newt Gingrich’s campaign bounced a check for $500. And this isn’t just any check—it’s not a check to cover dry cleaning or some ancillary expense along the campaign trail. This was a check to the Utah Election Commission to secure Newt’s place on the ballot for that state’s primary. As a result of the check bouncing, Newt may get bounced from the primary.

The check bounced on March 27, and ABC News reports Utah election office has not been able to get in touch with Gingrich’s office since then. “Our office immediately attempted to contact the campaign and the designated agent but no phone calls were returned,” Utah election director Mark Thomas tells ABC. “We also asked the state Republican Party to assist us, but they also could not get into communication with them, although I do not know how they attempted to contact them.”

The hilarious irony here is that Gingrich has always presented himself as the consummate “fiscal conservative”: Leading the Republican Revolution in the mid ’90s, he passed the first balanced budget since 1969, and he’s spent the last few years attacking Obama’s stimulus package as reckless big-government spending.

The bounced $500 check, however, comes with the news that Gingrich’s campaign is $4.5 million in debt. Gingrich told ABC the debt was accrued in a wild spending spree in Florida, where the campaign got “very excited.”

Romney spent $20 million in Florida in three weeks and I think some of our guys decided to try to match him and we didn’t have Wall Street. I am going to spend some time paying it off. It is something I have done several times in my career. We cut our expenses, we cut our staff, we are now in the process of paying it off but I think what happened is, they got really involved in the fight in Florida and didn’t stop and just say to themselves.

Gingrich tried to capitalize on Santorum dropping out of the race yesterday, saying in an email he’s “the last conservative standing” and is seeking 1,200 donations in a day.

Gingrich doesn’t sound like he has any regrets over the debt, though, telling ABC his strategy for paying it off is “exactly what a conservative should do.”

At any rate, if he doesn’t get a new check to the Utah election board by April 24 he’ll be off the ballot.