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Richardson Wipes Out Debt from Presidential Race

By Barry Massey
Associated Press
      SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson has erased the debts from his unsuccessful presidential bid, a year after dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination.
    Richardson's campaign raised almost $61,700 in contributions during the first three months of the year, according to the latest financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
    About $9,200 came from executives with the Hess Corp., a New York-headquartered independent energy company that includes oil and natural gas production and retail gasoline stations. A political action committee affiliated with the Boeing Co., the world's second-largest plane maker, gave $5,000.
    The campaign spent about $47,000 on its operations during the first quarter of the year, including $27,000 to retire debts outstanding at the end of 2008. Other expenses included taxes, bank and credit card processing fees, Web site development and a payment the U.S. Treasury for uncashed checks for campaign contribution refunds. If a federal campaign is unsuccessful in refunding a contribution to the donor, the money must be given to the government.
    After exiting the presidential race, Richardson had to refund contributions that were larger than the limit for the primary election, which was $2,300 for individuals. Some donors, for example, had given $2,300 for the primary and up to $2,300 for the general election.
    The largest debt payment went for the campaign's use of private aircraft owned by the governor's political supporters in New Mexico: $26,850 paid in January to Lea King LLC, which was organized by Hobbs businessman Johnny Cope and U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, also of Hobbs.
    When Richardson dropped out of the presidential race in early 2008, his campaign listed debts of nearly $391,000, of which $203,850 was owed to Lea King for air travel.
    The campaign gradually chipped away at the debts. At the end of March, it owed nothing and reported a cash balance of $24,491.
    Richardson collected about $23 million in total contributions for his presidential campaign, which started in January 2007.


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