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FEC fines Biden more than $200,000 for violations

By Alexander Mooney, CNN Political Unit
The FEC fined Joe Biden for spending violations during his failed 2008 presidential bid.
The FEC fined Joe Biden for spending violations during his failed 2008 presidential bid.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Federal Election Commission hits Vice President Biden with $219,000 fine
  • Biden's 2008 campaign accepted contributions beyond the legal limit, FEC says
  • Biden spokeswoman says the campaign will comply with the terms of the fine
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(CNN) -- A day after the Federal Elections Commission slapped Joe Biden with a $219,000 fine for spending violations during his failed presidential bid, a spokeswoman for the vice president is calling the ruling "commonplace."

"Some repayment is commonplace after presidential campaign audits and the repayment ordered here is relatively small," said Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander. "Payment is due to the Treasury 30 days after the FEC issues its formal ruling and 'Biden for President' will comply with that."

In a report released Friday, the FEC said a mandatory audit showed the campaign had accepted contributions above the legal limit, failed to adequately pay for rides on a private jet, and issued several checks that had never been cashed.

Specifically, the FEC found Biden had not returned more than $106,000 in contributions that exceeded the legal limit of $2,300 per-person for a presidential candidate.The FEC also found the committee had not returned more than $1 million in over-the-limit contributions in "a timely manner."

The commission report also said the campaign failed to adequately pay for a ride three people received on a private jet between New Hampshire and Iowa in June of 2007 because the campaign reimbursed the owner of the aircraft at a significantly below-market rate.

The reimbursement for the flight was based on comparable commercial first-class tickets. But because the plane was designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a charter aircraft, the campaign underpaid by close to $27,000, the FEC report says.

The FEC report also found Biden owes $86,000 as a result of stale-dated checks -- that is, checks that the payees have not cashed. According to the FEC, if the campaign has issued checks that the payees have not cashed within a reasonable time frame, the campaign must reimburse the Treasury for the amount of the outstanding checks.

"Stale dated checks are where someone contributes over the allowed max and campaign sends back refund of overage, but the check is never cashed," said a senior administration official in the vice president's office. "This is common and obviously not in the campaign's control. The excess contributions were less than 1 percent of the money raised; the vendor errors were well under 1 percent -- one half of one percent."

The findings are the result of a mandatory audit because Biden accepted taxpayer money as a result of opting into the public financing system. In all, Biden received $857,189 in taxpayer funds to run his campaign.

Biden dropped his bid for president in January 2008 after a fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

 
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