CBS News: Sale of Interior secretary’s motor home raises $25K question

George Frey
Aug 28, 2017
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U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's dormant congressional campaign committee recently sold a 2004 motor home at a steep discount to an old friend in the Montana Legislature.

But a seemingly ordinary transaction between friends, when seen through the optics of stringent campaign finance laws, can raise a bevy of questions - especially when those friends are politically high-powered and well-connected.

After learning about the transaction, campaign finance watchdogs are raising a $25,000 question: Why would Zinke's campaign committee sell the Kountry Star Freightliner for half the price of its apparent $50,000 market value?

It's a head-scratcher for Lawrence Noble, a senior director of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group of election law experts. "If the asset is worth $50,000, and they sell it to somebody for $25,000. It's the equivalent of them giving $25,000 to that person," Noble said.

The Federal Election Commission prohibits political committees to sell assets, including campaign vehicles, below fair market value.

It's akin to a gift, Noble said. "The campaign cannot give a $25,000 gift to somebody," he said.

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