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OPINION: CoverupFail: Sue Lowden’s felony campaign finance scandal now spiraling out of control



Lowden Doubles Down on BusGate: $100,000+ Luxury Bus Was “Donated”

Lowden Yesterday: “Anyone could have had an RV if they had a supporter who wanted to donate.”

Separately, campaign staff & lawyers claim “lease agreement” exists but stonewall disclosure of all relevant details

LAS VEGAS – Embattled Republican Sue Lowden appears to have learned absolutely nothing from the month-plus, self-inflicted disaster now famously known as ‘Chickens for Checkups’ – a meltdown that made her a local and national laughingstock and has sent her bid for the NV GOP nomination into a tailspin.

Yesterday, both Las Vegas newspapers broke stories suggesting Lowden has illegally accepted the donation of a $100,000+ luxury campaign bus from one of her supporters. Lowden’s receipt of the luxury campaign vehicle, including her personal addition to the title and registration, unquestionably constitutes an illegal campaign contribution that could result in 7-digit fines and prison time of up to 5 years. Lowden touched off the controversy after stating “someone donated an RV to me” in an interview on KOLO News 8on May 7th in response to criticism from her GOP opponents.

Since media has started to scrutinize the transaction, Lowden’s campaign manager and attorney – rushed into damage-control mode – have offered no fewer than 7 different explanations that contradict Lowden’s original statement (and public records at the DMV) that the vehicle was donated to her.

And yet despite her staff’s best attempts to save her from herself, Lowden again insisted on two evening newscasts last night that the vehicle had been donated to her by a couple in Reno.

  • Lowden on KOLO: “Let’s talk about my RV. It was donated. I’m really fortunate. Anyone could have had an RV if they had a supporter who wanted to donate.” (Which is true, if the RV were worth $4,800 or less.)
  • Lowden on KRNV: “A couple from Reno who donated, slash, in-kinded a donation of the RV and then we leased it from there.”

Curiously, while Lowden continues to take to the airwaves essentially admitting she has committed felony violation of federal campaign finance law, her aides have desperately been pushing a different explanation – an explanation that, even if true, would in no way exonerate her, as Lowden is the titled owner of the vehicle. Nevertheless, Lowden’s aides are claiming – with no proof – that there exists a “private lease agreement” and that the campaign is paying fair market value for the use of the RV.

They have released a document to the media that is beyond laughable, and have stonewalled all other reporters’ questions to reveal any meaningful details of the so-called leasing arrangement. Lowden’s aides have also asserted – with absolutely no warrant – that their made-up lease arrangement “supersedes” Nevada state law concerning the ownership of the vehicle.

True to form, Lowden’s bungling of the BusGate matter – more serious than ‘Chickens for Checkups’ in that she is now facing massive criminal penalty – has now begun to spiral out of control in the Nevada media. Every single network news broadcast in both the Reno and Las Vegas markets last night carried a story about Lowden and her illegal campaign bus, many focused on the campaign’s dishonest and amateurish handling of the issue.

For just one example of the unflattering local news coverage Lowden is now facing, check out KOLO 8’s follow-up piece.

“With the burgeoning BusGate scandal, Sue Lowden has upped the ante substantially – transforming herself from national laughingstock to likely felon,” said Reid communications director Kelly Steele. “As they continue their downward spiral, Lowden’s campaign has now resorted to outright fabrication in an attempt to paper over federal campaign finance violations that could easily land Ms. Lowden in jail.”

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