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Was Giuliani's MoveOn Deal Unfair?

Rudy Giuliani's shot at MoveOn.org may end up costing his campaign more than he bargained for.

In response to the organization's now-famous New York Times ad about "General Betray Us," Giuliani's campaign took out its own ad and demanded the same, $64,575 rate that the Times gave to MoveOn.

Now, however, the Times has admitted that it should have charged MoveOn its standard rate of $142,083, prompting the group to write another $77,000 check to the Times.

But what about Giuliani's ad?

A new complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission Monday alleges that Giuliani's campaign must also pay the full amount or be in violation of taking what amounts to an illegal corporate contribution from the Times.

"The difference, $77,083 is an in-kind corporate contribution, which far exceeds the limits allowed by law," alleges the complaint, written by Lane Hudson, a blogger who recently filed a complaint with the FEC about the campaign of Fred Thompson. "If he does not [pay the full amount], that is not just a violation of the law but a betrayal of the public trust at a time when Americans want integrity from our leaders."

A spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign said the campaign was charged the proper rate since they were not guaranteed a specific day the ad would run. And she defended Giuliani's decision to attack the group in print.

"Nothing can make up for the fact that the MoveOn.org ad was so egregious even the The New York Times admits it did not meet its own standards for placement," spokeswoman Maria Comella said. "Our ad not only met the acceptability standards of The New York Times, but it was placed at the standby rate with no commitment it would run on a specific date."

--Michael D. Shear

By Washington Post editors  |  September 25, 2007; 10:40 AM ET
 
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