The re-election campaign of Republican Sen. Larry Craig on Thursday accused multimillionaire Democratic challenger Walt Minnick of trying to squeeze a $14,700 profit from his own campaign by collecting excessive interest on the money he has lent it.
But Minnick spokesman Bill Broadhead called it ridiculous to charge the former head of TJ International with trying to profit from a campaign he has already directly spent more than $200,000 of his own money keeping alive. And Broadhead provided a bank memo proving that Minnick is charging his campaign the same 15 percent interest rate he was quoted by Key Bank.
Meanwhile, Craig spokesman Mike Tracy said a formal complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission claiming Minnick violated commission rules by charging 15 percent interest on the other $167,000 he has loaned his the campaign.
Commission regulations limit the interest candidates can collect on personal loans made to their campaigns to “a commercially reasonable rate,” and Tracy contends commercial interest rates have been averaging closer to 10 percent in Idaho this year.
Pointing to Minnick’s repeated demand for campaign finance reform, Tracy argued that the attempt to collect 15 percent interest on his personal loans to the campaign “is violating the spirit and the letter of the FEC rules.
“He claims he’s for campaign finance reform, but he can’t even live within the current rules,” Tracy said.
He also cited the two Democratic Senate nominees in Kansas, Jill Docking and Sally Thompson, for charging zero interest on $25,000 and $10,000 personal loans to their campaigns and Democratic Senate nominee Victor Morales in Texas for charging only 3.1 percent interest on his $8,000 personal campaign loan.
During a stop at the Eastern Idaho Fair on Tuesday, Minnick told one voter that his top priority was campaign finance reform.
The Minnick campaign has not made any payments on any of the 5 loans totaling $167,000 that were made in May and June. And unless he upsets Craig and wins the November election, Minnick is unlikely to recover the principal amount of those loans let alone any interest.
Broadhead said the interest rate was determined by contacting Minnick’s personal banker last spring and asking for the current commercial rate.
“For them to say that Walt Minnick is trying to profit on this campaign is ludicrous,” Broadhead said. “He’s directly given $200,000 or something. If he was really trying to make money on the campaign, why wouldn’t he just loan all the money to the campaign instead of directly giving it?”
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Associated Press Reporter Ken Olsen contributed to this report.