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October 22, 2008 4:57 PM

Burner files complaint over Reichert TV time

Posted by Emily Heffter

Democratic Congressional candidate Darcy Burner has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the way U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is paying for his television ad buys.
Or rather, the way he isn't paying for them. At least not yet.

Most political advertising is paid for in cash up front. That's how Burner has been paying for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of television advertising that is running now. But Reichert hired a local company called Media Plus+ to buy his advertising, and Media Plus+ has an arrangement with most of the local television stations to pay later -- as much as a month later.

Media Plus+ is on the hook for the money if the Reichert campaign doesn't raise enough to cover it.
Burner's campaign said Media Plus+ is essentially extending Reichert a huge loan. It's hard to tell how much money his campaign has left, but he's reserved more than a half-million dollars worth of television ads in the last two weeks before the election.

The Burner campaign cited the Federal Election Campaign Act, which “prohibits corporations from making contributions or expenditures in connection with Federal elections,” according to the complaint.
"Media Plus+ is taking on the risk of having to pay back all the money that the Reichert campaign is spending on these ads," Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said in a press release. "That means they are loaning the Reichert campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars of television time with the very real possibility that Congressman Reichert will not be able to pay them back after the election."

Reichert campaign spokeswoman Amanda Halligan said Media Plus+ pays for the ads and then sends the campaign a bill. They pay it, she said, "like any other business."

"There's no loan associated with it," she said.

I wrote a story this week about the ad time in which an FEC spokesman told me payment arrangements are legal as long as the television stations aren't doing any special favors. The spokesman wouldn't comment on the specifics of Reichert's arrangement.

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Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Jennifer Sullivan
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Chantal Anderson
Covers the state Legislature from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Writes about the city of Seattle and local politics.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Jim Brunner
Writes about money and power from Seattle.