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July 20, 2004
Kerry To Repay Self From Campaign Donations

Today's Boston Globe reports that John Kerry has finally decided to repay last year's personal loan to his campaign using donations collected this year -- in effect, as Hugh Hewitt points out, "effectively tricking 2004 donors into paying for 2003 expenses":

John F. Kerry is poised to take federal campaign money once he is nominated for the presidency next week, according to top campaign finance advisers, a move that will allow him to disburse millions of dollars in leftover campaign cash to Democratic Party operations, effectively augmenting the $75 million he will receive in federal funds.

Aides expect the Kerry campaign committee to end up with enough money to make sizable transfers to the Democratic National Committee, state Democratic committees, and possibly the committees working to elect a Democratic Congress. The aim would be to have the committees, especially those in battleground states, air television ads on Kerry's behalf this fall, and finance get-out-the-vote operations on Election Day. ...

Kerry also plans to repay himself for a $6.4 million loan he gave to his cash-strapped organization last December, according to one adviser. "The loan will be repaid," the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday. "The question is when." A campaign spokesman, Michael Meehan, said Kerry has yet to make a final decision.

How nice. I wonder if the people who put that $6.4 million into Kerry's campaign would have been so enthusiastic had they known it would wind up in Kerry's bank account -- when he and his wife are worth between $500 million and $3 billion between them. Perhaps Kerry can afford to buy another villa in Italy, now that he's getting the money back from his donors.

Actually, and somewhat contradictorily, the Globe reports that Kerry had considered self-financing his entire campaign instead of taking government funds. However, raising $75 million in hard money with a cap of $2,000 per donor -- many of which had already reached that cap -- in a three-month period would be highly unlikely. One of the problems self-financing would have solved is the six-week gap between the Republican and Democratic conventions, during which Bush can continue to raise and spend private funds. Kerry has decided to essentially go dark during that period to start September on equal footing:

From July 29, Kerry will have a 20-day period in which he must decide whether he wants to use campaign funds to repay his personal loan to the committee. If he does not take the campaign money during that window, the campaign must log the loan as a contribution and Kerry must repay the $6.4 million bank loan himself.

The campaign has been making the monthly loan payments. Bush, however, will be free to continue raising and spending money from private donors until his nomination on Sept. 2. He has raised more than $215 million. A second top adviser said Kerry plans to husband his $75 million until Bush receives his own allotment, gambling that potential voters will be distracted by vacation, two weeks of Olympics coverage from Greece, and a week of TV coverage of the Republican convention in New York, which begins Aug. 30.

One wonders if the implosion of Kerry's foreign-affairs advisors Joe Wilson and Sandy Berger may force a change in that strategy, in order to combat the possible fallout from the scandals.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 20, 2004 9:32 AM

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