Opinion: Sue Lowden could face jail time for illegal campaign contribution

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SUBMITTED RELEASE FROM NEVADA STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that GOP Senate candidate Sue Lowden is likely in serious violation of campaign finance laws for her acceptance of a more than $100,000 bus she uses as a traveling campaign headquarters and mobile billboard. The allegations mean Lowden could face up to five years in jail and more than $1 million in fines for accepting a massive, illegal in-kind contribution under federal campaign finance laws.

Responding to a question about what KOLO 8 News described as her “splashy campaign bus,” Lowden justified the 40-foot luxury RV in which she’s crisscrossed Nevada as being donated, asking, “Why would anyone want to demean the fact that someone donated an RV to me for the campaign? It’s unfortunate that some of their friends didn’t donate (an RV) to them.”

Um, here’s a thought: because it’s totally and completely illegal– the equivalent of someone walking into her campaign office and handing her a bag filled with more than $100,000 in cash.

Lowden’s acceptance of the campaign RV, the registration and title of which she signed as a candidate for U.S. Senate, constitutes a criminal violation of federal campaign finance laws. In this case, Lowden’s actions fall into the most serious category of violation that exists under the statute–an illegal donation of over $25,000 is a felony, punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of 10 times the amount of the donation.

    · “Melanie Sloan, a former prosecutor and now executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington… said a bus donation would be a clear campaign finance violation. ‘He gave it to her. She owns it. She’s on the title, and it’s in her custody and control. It’s an excessive campaign contribution.’”

    · “The campaign has offered shifting explanations for the bus’s ownership. Charles Spies, an attorney for the campaign, wrote in an e-mail last week: ‘The RV is titled in its owner’s name (not Sue Lowden or Lowden for Senate).’ In response to a records request, however, the DMV confirmed that Lowden is a title-holder with Giudici, indicating co-ownership status.”

The Lowden campaign should immediately answer these questions:

1. Why did you go on TV saying the bus was donated, and then change your story to claim it’s a complicated lease arrangement?

2. Why did you lie to the Las Vegas Sun and say you weren’t on the title, when you personally signed that title?

3. Leases require payments, and you show none on your FEC reports. Release the dates and terms of your so-called lease and prove that you have made payments on that imaginary lease as required by law.

4. Do you think this is the sort of leadership that Nevada needs?

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