WASHINGTON — Las Vegas businesswoman Sue Lowden has settled bills with most vendors who fueled her unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2010, according to documents made public on Friday.
A debt settlement plan submitted to the Federal Election Commission shows Lowden agreed to pay $196,771 to settle bills of $451,968 owed to 14 companies or individuals hired to support her bid for office, including her campaign manager.
The plan indicated Lowden had been working down some of the debt. A separate report indicated seven of the vendors have been paid their negotiated sums. Lowden has been in litigation over bills she disputed from two other vendors
Lowden, 61, was hopeful the debt plan, if accepted by the FEC, will clear away a nagging issue that threatened to color her new bid for public office. The Republican is running for Nevada lieutenant governor.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Lowden said in an interview earlier this week after her campaign filed the debt report and an accompanying 2010 campaign termination report with the federal campaign agency. The documents were posted Friday to the FEC’s public records database.
The FEC rejected two of Lowden’s previous attempts to close the books on her 2010 campaign, saying they failed to adequately settle her finances.
Lowden, a wealthy casino executive, is paying debt out of personal funds, after her Senate campaign ended when she lost the 2010 Republican primary to conservative activist Sharron Angle. Angle went on to lose to incumbent Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Subsequent financial reports filed periodically with the FEC showed Lowden owing more than a half-million dollars to campaign vendors, placing her near the top of once-federal candidates continuing to owe consultants and suppliers.
Campaign finance experts said it was not unusual for losing campaigns to rack up debt and struggle to pay it off, but it could make it difficult to hire vendors for new ventures.
The papers filed Friday said some vendors have been paid. Others will receive checks when the debt settlement plan is approved by the FEC, according to the records.
“This is a campaign debt, but I’ve been paying it personally,” Lowden said. “I have always been paying this off, but it takes time.”
Lowden contended the 2010 campaign debt is getting attention because she is running for lieutenant governor.
“The only reason this is a story is because I’m running for office,” Lowden said.
She is running in the 2014 Republican primary against state Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, who has been endorsed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. Hutchison has raised about $876,000 for his campaign so far. Lowden reported raising about $228,000, including $100,000 she loaned herself.
Lowden’s debt payment plan submitted to the FEC was accompanied by signed settlement agreements with each of the vendors for what amounted overall to her paying 45 cents on each dollar of debt.
Agreements varied. Republican consultant Robert Uithoven, who managed Lowden’s bid, agreed to take $1,000 a month for 45 months to settle that debt.
Lowden remains in federal court litigation over $77,796 in disputed charges from Vitale and Associates, a Colorado polling firm.
Also, $204,435 in charges from a Delaware, Ohio, advertising firm, The Strategy Group for Media Inc., was reduced to $193,554 through court action in Ohio. The debt plan was unclear whether that amount will be paid or negotiated further.
Lowden said this week she won that case but did not elaborate.
An attorney for the Lowden campaign told the FEC he has tried unsuccessfully to track down another vendor, the polling firm Campaign Productions of the Rockies, of Denver, which records say is owed $1,591.
Contact reporter Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.