- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2010

Federal election regulators on Thursday ruled that President Obama’s campaign can transfer money to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s short-lived 2008 presidential campaign, which doesn’t have enough in the bank to pay off more than $200,000 in election fines.

In a separate vote, the FEC rejected a bid by the wireless industry to allow Americans to make campaign contributions to politicians by sending text messages on their cell phones.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) said the Obama campaign can transfer $138,000 to the Biden for President campaign to cover debts.

The campaigns asked the FEC for permission to make the cash transfer after the FEC ordered Mr. Biden’s campaign to pay $219,005 to the U.S. Treasury. An FEC audit previously found the Biden campaign took excessive contributions and a failed to repay the owner of a corporate jet for a flight between New Hampshire and Iowa.

Mr. Biden ended his presidential bid after a fifth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses. According to a recent FEC filing, his campaign had only $82,000 cash on hand. If the Obama campaign wasn’t allowed to transfer the cash, Mr. Biden’s campaign would have had to resume fundraising to pay off its debts.

In a joint letter, Obama and Biden campaign lawyers told the FEC the transfer should be permitted because campaign-finance regulations allow for unlimited transfers between “previous federal campaigns” of a federal candidate.

In the text-message ruling, the FEC said contributions wouldn’t be forwarded to political committees within the time frame required by election rules.

The plan was proposed by CTIA - The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group for the wireless industry.

“I’m disappointed that the commission ruled to impose extra statutory burdens on making political contributions by text message,” said Caleb P. Burns, a lawyer with Wiley Rein, which represents CTIA.

“Nonetheless, the commission has provided CTIA with guidance as to what would be required,” he said. “CTIA and its members can now decide whether implementing those requirements is economically viable.”

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