Lowden still owes $500,000 from her Senate campaign

Talk about chickens coming home to roost:

Sue Lowden, the former lawmaker who announced this week that she may run for lieutenant governor, is paying off a gigantic debt in tiny increments to vendors from her failed 2010 Senate bid.

Lowden, who was sued over some of those obligations by angry people who assisted her disastrous bid, just two weeks ago filed a document with the Federal Election Commission that placed the debt at nearly $533,000. That quarterly report shows that Lowden contributed a paltry $6,800 to her Senate campaign committee, which was then put toward bills owed to 10 companies.

But Lowden, who is wealthy and contributed seven figures to her run against Harry Reid that was derailed in the primary by Sharron Angle, has made very little progress in paying off those who helped her ill-fated effort. And the FEC has rejected her debt settlement plans.

Indeed, a document filed after her campaign ended, one that had to be amended several times, showed she owed $622,000 in addition to a nearly $2 million loan she gave to the campaign. She forgave the loan, but I doubt her creditors forgive her.

When I suggested to Lowden that vendors might be reluctant to jump on board because of her treatment of others, she replied, "It will be up to individual vendors to decide if they want to be part of my campaign. I'm not having any problem with vendors wanting to be part of my potential Lt Gov campaign."

She also told me: "It is not unusual to have campaign debt. Should I run for Lt. Gov. I will be using donor corporate funds (as opposed to federal funds). It's an entirely different entity and a new LLC."

This is true, but two points are relevant. One, she is independently wealthy and did not pay these vendors (she has disputed some of the bills.) Two, she still owes $500,000 from one race and is asking donors for more money. That seems odd.

It was shortly after Reid won his fifth term that the Review-Journal’s Norm Clarke first reported that Lowden was being pursued by vendors, including a pollster and media guy. He later followed up on the pursuit and Lowden’s claim of being "financially exhausted" from the campaign.

At the end of 2011, Lowden filed a debt settlement plan with the FEC in which she indicated she owed $537,000.

The biggest chunk was about $200,000 owed to The Strategy Group for Media, which did her TV, sued her after she lost, received a judgment for almost the full amount and only this March lost an appeal in Ohio that also accused Lowden of fraud. The appeals court affirmed the monetary judgment and the decision itself indicates the company expected to be paid (shockingly!) based on representations made by Lowden, her husband, Paul, and campaign manager Robert Uithoven.

Filings in 2011 indicated Lowden began contributing to her campaign committee and making small payments on the debt. But in January of 2012, saying Lowden had refused to respond to its request for information, the FEC rejected her debt settlement plan. In April 2012, Lowden filed a new plan.

The total debt was still listed as $537,000. But, the FEC told her shortly thereafter, it did not meet the requirements.

It must be noted that these rejections were sent to her campaign treasurer, a man named Bob Beers, who just happens to be mulling a lieutenant governor’s bid as well. But until Las vegas Councilman Beers decides, he is going to be on the board of Lowden’s campaign LLC for the post.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

A report filed at the beginning of this year showed the debate was basically unchanged at $535,000. There have been three filings this year – one in January, one in April and the one just last month, which show the debt virtually unchanged. She and Beers continued to be hectored by the FEC for not filing her forms properly, including one threatening missive just a couple of months ago.

The bottom line: Lowden essentially has made no progress in paying of the debt, with vendors surely feeling stiffed or worse.

So a woman who touted her business experience a couple of times in announcing her possible bid for lieutenant governor has failed to pay businesses from her last run? Why in the world would any vendors trust her this time? And how could she justify self-funding if she still owes so much money to past contractors?

It’s no wonder that someone suggested to me that the Democrats should do in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor what they did in the 2010 Senate primary to help Angle defeat Lowden: Help Lowden win because she is seen as the weaker candidate.

That would be ironic. And I doubt they would be chicken to try it.