The Green Zone
Clinton's Continuing Debt to Mark Penn
By Matthew Mosk
Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband continued to work the campaign trail on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama this weekend, having put the bruising primary battle behind them.
But efforts by Sen. Obama's fundraisers to help retire the $22 million in campaign debt that Clinton piled up during the primaries have been moving slowly. Clinton's October filing with the Federal Election Commission showed her debt has been shaved down to $7.9 million.
Perhaps the most notable detail about the debt filing is that the vast majority of the remaining debt -- $5,279,535.40 -- is owed to Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. While other vendors have been paid in part or in full, the amount owed to former chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn's firm has not changed by a single penny since July.
Asked to explain this, several fundraisers for Obama said there was a strong conviction inside the Obama camp that they did not want their efforts to benefit Penn, who was Clinton's chief strategist and advocated for the toughest attacks on Obama, according to published reports, during tense internal Clinton campaign debates on strategy.
Clinton campaign officials have said that their goal has always been to pay small vendors first. When Penn will be paid remains unclear, but for now, the controversial strategist appears to be keeping his cool.
"We've been assured -- and reassured -- that the Clinton campaign will pay in due course," a spokesman for Penn, Schoen & Berland said.
Posted at 1:14 PM ET on Nov 1, 2008
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