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Nevada Senate: More FEC Questions for Lowden

On the heels of an FEC complaint filed against her by the Nevada Democratic Party, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden could face new questions about whether she is spending general election funds to purchase ads in the final days of a hotly contested primary.

Lowden, who on Tuesday will face 11 other candidates for the Republican nomination to challenge Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, may have spent more than $100,000 in campaign funds reserved for the general election, according to a Post analysis of FEC numbers.

Federal election law allows donors to give up to $2,400 to a candidate for a primary and another $2,400 for the general election, but each pool must be spent only on the contest for which it is designated.

Lowden had answered questions just last week about her expenditure of nearly $18,000 more than she had on hand for use in the primary. The campaign had about $227,000 in general election funds but only $209,000 on hand on May 19. The former state GOP chairwoman, former state senator and casino executive dismissed the matter as an "accounting error" and called the accusations of wrongdoing "frivolous."

Lowden's spokeswoman, Crystal Feldman, said Wednesday that the matter has been resolved. "I know that we're not spending general election money right now," she said. "That issue was cleared up as soon as we were notified."

But FEC numbers suggest otherwise. According to those records, Lowden loaned her campaign $100,000 to clear up the initial discrepancy. She has also collected about $7,000 in donations, according to the 48-hour reports that candidates are required to file in the final weeks of a race. But on May 28, Lowden's campaign purchased $220,000 in ad time from Nevada's TV stations -- more than $100,000 more than she had available for primary expenses. Either the campaign under-reported its donations in recent days, or it's spending general election money.

In a statement, Lowden's campaign manager appeared to suggest that low-dollar contributions covered the cost of the ad buy. "Sue Lowden is properly filing her FEC reports every 48 hours of any contributions of $1,000 or more," said Robert Uithoven, the campaign manager. "Further, any personal contributions have been and will continue to be reported in accordance with the FEC guidelines. We are still benefiting from lower-dollar contributions from mail and Internet fundraising, as well as regular contributions made at campaign events."

Meanwhile, campaign finance issues have become something of a theme in the GOP contest. In addition to her latest discrepancy, Lowden came under fire and was the subject of a separate FEC complaint for her use of an RV for campaign purposes without noting the in-kind donation on her filings.

And one of Lowden's main competitors in the race, former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, has taken heat of her own for her use of a privately owned airplane for campaign purposes without paying market price for the service or reporting it as an in-kind donation.
-- Amy Gardner

By Amy Gardner  |  June 2, 2010; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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