The use of an RV by a U.S. Senate candidate is surfacing as a campaign issue in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
One of Sue Lowden’s top rivals in the U.S. Senate race questioned Monday (May 17) whether she violated campaign contribution limits by using a donor’s luxury RV to travel the state, making the allegations five days before early voting starts in the hotly contested Republican primary.
The Lowden campaign said it broke no laws and provided documentation to show the bus is leased from its owner, Carl Giuduci, who with his wife, Elsie, donated “in-kind” contributions for the vehicle’s use that were under the $2,400-per-person limit for the primary campaign.
GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian’s campaign said it accused Lowden of exceeding the limit because she recently said on a TV news program in Reno that a supporter donated the RV to her. Tarkanian did not file any formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission.
“She talked about her bus being donated, and so that would violate campaign finance rules,” said Tarkanian campaign manager Brian Seitchik. “Like government bailouts, taxes and immigration, Sue Lowden says one thing and tries to change her position once the going gets sticky.”
Lowden’s campaign fired back, saying Tarkanian was lobbing allegations to gain attention and traction before the June 8 primary as polls show him behind Lowden in the crowded GOP field with a dozen contenders battling to face Democrat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in the fall.
“Today’s desperate attack by Danny Tarkanian alleging that a lease agreement on a nearly decade-old RV is a campaign violation is absolutely false and absurd,” campaign manager Robert Uithoven said. “The fact is that career candidate Danny Tarkanian has a campaign that is crumbling around him with sagging poll numbers and time running down.”
The 2001 Monaco motorhome wrapped with Lowden’s picture has become a signature of the GOP front-runner’s campaign as she has traveled some 25,000 miles, including by car, bus and plane.
According to Lowden’s campaign accounting:
- Carl Giuduci donated $2,200 on Nov. 18 as an in-kind contribution for the RV’s use.
- Elsie Giuduci donated a total of $2,360 as in-kind contributions for the vehicle’s use as a campaign bus, including $1,885 on Nov. 18 and another $475 on Jan. 26.
The Lowden campaign said it spent its own money to fix up the RV, which has a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, including $9,496 on Feb. 18 and $1,585 on Feb. 25.
The campaign wouldn’t say how much the luxury RV is worth. Similar 2001 vehicles can be found for sale in the $60,000-to-$100,000-plus range, depending on their conditions.
Lowden’s campaign refused to say how much it was leasing the bus for on a day-to-day basis when she is using it on the road. The campaign said it doesn’t pay when it’s parked.
According to a redacted lease agreement released by the campaign that did not provide any dollar figures, Lowden must return the vehicle after she is done using it during her bid for public office.
“Possessory right shall be forfeited upon the termination or expiration of this agreement,” said the one-page document, which also states Lowden has no ownership rights to the RV.
Both Giuduci and Lowden are listed on the vehicle title and registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to the campaign, which said that was necessary to obtain insurance.
Scott Bacher, owner of the Carlsbad (N.M.) Kampgrounds of America (KOA) campground, was one of a panel of experts called to testify Tuesday (April 27) in Washington, D.C., during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
The committee is looking into ways to better promote the National Parks as tourism destinations. Bacher, who owns the Carlsbad KOA with his wife, Susan, spoke of the relationships developed between National Parks and Monuments and private vendors, such as campgrounds.
Bacher appeared at the request of Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.
Along with Bacher, the panel at the hearing included filmmaker Ken Burns, well known for his recent National Parks documentary; Michael Ward, superintendent of Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota; Diane Shober, Travel and Tourism director for the State of Wyoming; Will Shafroth, deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks with the U.S. Department of the Interior; and renowned wildlife and scenic photographer Clyde Butcher.
To view highlights of Bacher’s testimony before the committee, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpXxMVtkV8.