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Originally published Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Burner loans campaign $140,000 for ads

Democrat Darcy Burner loaned her campaign $140,000 last week, just days after her campaign reported record-breaking fundraising numbers in her race against U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional District.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Congressional candidate Darcy Burner loaned her campaign $140,000 last week, just days after reporting record-breaking campaign fundraising numbers in her race against U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.

Burner raised $1.2 million in three months, according to a campaign filing last week. That's more than double what her Republican opponent raised in the third quarter of this year. The windfall attracted national media attention in one of the most competitive House races in the country.

Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said the campaign still has a six-figure reserve. He said Burner loaned the campaign the money to respond to a massive Reichert television-ad buy on Friday.

The big-money tit-for-tat underscores the closeness of the race for the 8th Congressional District seat Reichert has held for four years. It also suggests that both campaigns may end the election cycle in debt despite raising more than $2 million each.

In the most recent federal filing, which included fundraising through the end of September, Reichert reported having just under $1.2 million in cash on hand. Burner had about $770,000.

Burner lost her first race against Reichert by about 3 percentage points in 2006. The 8th District includes eastern King and Pierce counties.

Both campaigns have raised hundreds of thousands more this year than they did two years ago, and as mail-in ballots arrive this week, they are dumping much of it into television ads.

Reichert's campaign spokeswoman wouldn't go into detail about Reichert's television-ad buys Monday, but she said the campaign updated its ad buy on Friday.

KOMO-TV sold Reichert's ad buyer, Media Plus+, the most recent TV slots on credit — a practice that is relatively uncommon for political advertising. KIRO-TV also extended credit for Reichert ads that are running this week, said Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik.

Most political campaigns pay for their ads upfront, but KOMO vice president and general manager Jim Clayton said the station sometimes bills buyers it has a good relationship with. He said KOMO regularly works with Media Plus+ and that the agency would be on the hook for the ad buy if the Reichert campaign doesn't pay.

"It's not like we're doing anything unusual," Clayton said. "We have extended the same offer to the Burner agency, but they declined."

Kaushik disputed that Burner's campaign got the same credit offer.

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"He's basically funding a huge chunk of his campaign without paying for it," Kaushik said of Reichert.

Bob Biersack, a spokesman for the Federal Election Commission, said such arrangements are legal as long as the station isn't doing any campaign a special favor.

"Typically, they just need to be consistent with whatever the vendor does for any kind of customer," he said.

Burner noticed Reichert's updated ad buy last week and immediately loaned her campaign $140,000 so it could buy more time, as well. That wasn't because she was out of money, Kaushik said. She just wanted to move fast.

"We've got money," he said. "She just wanted to move immediately to get some new buys in."

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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