Busgate Update: DMV Says Lowden Owns RV

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Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden now says she "misspoke" when she told KOLO 8 News Now her campaign bus was donated.
In the end, however, whether donation, legal contribution or whatever, it may not matter.

The comment came in a long interview we did with Lowden May 7th. She was responding to a questions about her obvious edge in campaign resources including being able to hire campaign workers.through ads on Craig's List to walk door to door and, of course, that great looking bus decked out in campaign graphics and bearing a huge picture of the candidate herself.

Lowden framed her answer with evident pride as an indication of the kind of support she was receiving.

"It was donated," she volunteered. "I'm really fortunate. Anyone could have had an RV if they had a supporter who wanted to donate."

The precise term is in-kind contribution and the bus is listed as "Vehicle Rental" on contribution forms filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

In-kind contributions are subject to the same $2400 per individual limit. Between retired businessman Carl Giudici and his wife, the total claimed is just under the wire.

Rival Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian says, however, the value of the bus exceeds that limit.

The state Democratic party put it in writing in a complaint filed with the FEC yesterday, putting the value of the lease on the vehicle for the ten months of campaign at more than $140-thousand dollars.

It amounts to a serious violation of the law, they said, the same as if a suitcase of cash had been handed to her.

Lowden's campaign has struggled to respond, but their bottom line is this, regardless of what the candidate said, although her name appears on the title she's only leasing the vehicle and her agreement with Giudici calls for its return after the campaign is over.

Besides, they say, she's paying fair market value for its use. The problem for Lowden is her name is on the RV's title. Her campaign says that was done for registration and insurance purposes, but it begs the question, how or why would she lease a vehicle she legally owns?

And, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles there's no question about her ownership. A DMV spokesman says the state doesn't recognize private lease agreements. If someone's name is on the title, they're an owner.

So, here's the problem: If Lowden or her campaign is a legal owner, how did that ownership come about except through donation or contribution?

And it's hard to fit the contribution of a $100-thousand dollar RV into that $24-hundred dollar limit.

No word on when the FEC might rule or if that might come before the voters have reached their own verdict.