Biden to pay $219,000 fine to FEC

Vice President Joseph Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign owes more than $219,000 to the government, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

In an audit released Friday, the FEC said Biden’s 2008 White House election bid accepted an illegal in-kind campaign contribution by accepting a ride on a corporate jet and only paying the first-class rate, not the more expensive charter rate. In addition, the then-Delaware senator’s presidential campaign was plagued by some messy record-keeping that led to prohibited excessive campaign contributions from individual donors.

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A Biden spokeswoman said the campaign plans to pay back what it owes to the government, according to the FEC.

“Some repayment is commonplace after presidential campaign audits and the repayment ordered here is relatively small,” Elizabeth Alexander, a spokeswoman for the vice president, said in an e-mail. “Payment is due to the Treasury 30 days after the FEC issues its formal ruling and Biden for President will comply with that.”

Biden dropped out of the presidential race after falling short in the Iowa caucuses in January 2008. His campaign raised more than $12 million. According to a vice presidential aide, the campaign's excessive contributions were less than one percent of the money raised while its vendor errors were well under one percent.

Biden accepted matching funds from the government for his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008. Once those funds are accepted, that automatically guarantees a FEC audit for the campaign later on.

One problem the audit found was a jet flight that was not properly compensated for by the campaign.

In June 2007, three people involved with the Biden campaign — it’s not clear who from the FEC audit — boarded a flight between New Hampshire and Iowa on a Gulfstream corporate jet owned by GEH Air Transportation.

The campaign repaid the company at the first-class rate for the flight but that payment should have been made at the more expensive charter rate. In turn, the campaign received a $26,899 in-kind contribution for the flight, according to the FEC audit.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, GEH Air Transportation is owned by the Clinton Group. Headed up by George Hall, the New York-based hedge fund has been implicated in an investigation by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of the state pension fund business.

The Biden campaign also ran afoul of the FEC when they accepted campaign contributions meant for the general election during their primary campaign against other Democratic presidential candidates.

The audit found the Biden campaign received more than $106,000 in excessive contributions from individuals, according to a sample taken by the FEC. Biden campaign aides said they had warned the donors that they could not give that much and were beyond FEC limits. But the aides could not provide enough documentation to the agency to prove that they did so. 

Also, the campaign tried to return some of the excessive contributions from donors. But those became stale-dated checks from the campaign that were never cashed by the donors. Consequently, the FEC audit found the Biden campaign still needed to return $85,900 in excessive campaign contributions.

Overall, the FEC audit found that the Biden campaign owes the government more than $219,000 for the mistakes, which they have agreed to pay back.