- Associated Press - Sunday, July 18, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Election watchdogs have directed Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s 2008 presidential campaign to pay the U.S Treasury more than $219,000 to resolve issues caused by sloppy bookkeeping and accepting excessive contributions, including a discounted flight on a private jet.

The audit was released Friday by the Federal Election Commission.

It determined that the Biden campaign accepted an improper corporate contribution in the form of a round-trip flight between New Hampshire and Iowa in June 2007 for three people. The Biden campaign paid GEH Air Transportation $7,911 for the first-class airfare, but regulators say the campaign should have paid the charter rate of $34,800.

The FEC also found that the Biden campaign could not document repaying at least $106,000 in donations that were over the limit, and the campaign was ordered to pay the U.S. Treasury more than $85,000 for stale-dated checks.

The Biden campaign also failed to disclose more than $3.7 million in payments and roughly $870,000 in debts.

The audit was conducted in part as a condition of Mr. Biden’s accepting taxpayer funds for his campaign through the presidential public financing system.

Mr. Biden, now the vice president, campaigned for president for nearly a year before dropping out in January 2008 after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Elizabeth Alexander, a spokeswoman in the vice president’s office, on Saturday said the campaign would repay the money.

“Some repayment is commonplace after presidential campaign audits, and the repayment ordered here is relatively small. Payment is due to the Treasury 30 days after the FEC issues its formal ruling, and Biden for President will comply with that,” she said Saturday.

Ms. Alexander said the campaign raised just over $12 million. And she said that “stale-dated checks” are where someone contributes over the allowed maximum and the campaign refunds the overpayment but the check is never cashed.

“This is common and obviously not in the campaign’s control,” she said, adding that the excess contributions were less than 1 percent of the money raised.

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