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Sharpton May Get Audit Along With Cash

March 10, 2004|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Election officials are recommending that Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton receive $100,000 in federal matching funds -- and be the subject of an investigation into whether he deserves the money.

The mixed recommendation by lawyers for the Federal Election Commission will be presented to the six commissioners Thursday for a probable vote, after debate over whether the outspoken candidate may have violated campaign finance rules.

"We stand behind everything we've done and every document we've submitted," said Charles Halloran, Sharpton's campaign manager. "We welcome a full audit; it's part of the political process."

At issue are loans and out-of-pocket payments made by Sharpton the activist preacher to Sharpton the candidate. The New Yorker's campaign is low on cash and is carrying heavy debts, but federal rules prohibit federal matching funds to any candidate who loans his own campaign more than $50,000.

Auditors said a review of Sharpton's campaign filings found he was owed $47,821.13 in loans or debts outstanding for more than 60 days. At the end of the 2003 filing period, Sharpton claimed he was owed an additional $53,981.25, but auditors said they could not determine if any of that debt was outstanding for more than 60 days.

"A question exists as to whether Rev. Sharpton has exceeded his personal expenditure limitation," the audit staff wrote. "The evidence is not sufficient to recommend an initial determination that matching fund eligibility be denied; however, it appears that a further review of this matter is warranted."

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