Giving ‘under the bus’ a whole new meaning

GIVING ‘UNDER THE BUS’ A WHOLE NEW MEANING…. In Nevada, Republican Senate hopeful Sue Lowden became something of a laughingstock recently with her thoughts on medical cost controls, which included the infamous “bring a chicken to the doctor” suggestion. The ensuing controversy made it seem as if Lowden simply wasn’t ready for prime time.

But as humiliating as that story was for Lowden, it simply cast her in a ridiculous light. Now the far-right candidate has a new problem, which isn’t as funny, but which is arguably more serious.

Sue Lowden, a leading Republican contender to challenge Sen. Harry Reid, is being accused by a chief competitor of breaking campaign finance law for accepting a luxury campaign bus as a campaign contribution.

A campaign contributor is “leasing” to Lowden the RV she is using as her campaign bus, according to her campaign. But Lowden’s name is on the title along with the name of the supporter, Carl Giudici, seemingly indicating they co-own the bus.

Campaign finance rules allow in-kind contributions of $2,400 — equal to the cash limit. The contribution of a luxury RV, which commonly costs more than $100,000, would be a violation of the law.

Apparently, Giudici, a former casino owner, bought the RV about a year ago. Lowden launched her campaign a few months later, and accepted the RV as a donation.

Except that’s likely not legal. Both Giudici and his wife have maxed out their campaign contributions, and even if they hadn’t, candidates can’t accept a luxury campaign bus worth more than $100,000 as a campaign donation.

Lowden’s lawyers are arguing that the campaign pays Giudici fair-market value on the days they drive it, so everything’s kosher. As for Lowden’s name appearing on the title as a co-owner, those same lawyers insist the lease agreement “supersedes” the title.

Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington dismissed the defense, telling the Las Vegas Sun, “He gave [the RV] to her. She owns it. She’s on the title, and it’s in her custody and control. It’s an excessive campaign contribution.”

Lowden was already struggling. This will likely make matters worse.