Clinton campaign continued after backing Obama

$6.4 million transfer focus of FEC filing

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's team has told the Federal Election Commission that she continued her campaign even after endorsing Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama on June 7, a claim that lets her transfer millions of dollars from her presidential bid to her Senate campaign.

The former first lady made the $6.4 million transfer from her White House campaign, which remains more than $7 million in debt, to Friends of Hillary on Aug. 28. That date would fall outside the legal deadline for making such a move if her campaign were to have ended June 7.

Her campaign treasurer told federal regulators that Mrs. Clinton spent more than a quarter-million dollars engaging in "vigorous political activity" throughout June, according to newly released FEC filings.

"The committee continued to actively contest for delegates at the state and local delegate-selection events during the month of June," campaign treasurer Shelly Moskwa wrote in a letter to the FEC dated Nov. 20. "Nothing in Senator Clinton's remarks indicated that she was withdrawing from the race.

"While she indicated that she was suspending her campaign, the term 'suspension' has no legal meaning," Ms. Moskwa wrote.

Precisely when Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to be Mr. Obama's secretary of state nominee, dropped out of the Democratic presidential primaries is emerging as an important legal question for FEC regulators examining the transfer of funds. Such transfers are legal if donors give their permission, and the Clinton campaign has said donors indeed authorized the move.

Still, such transfers also must take place within 60 days of when a candidate withdraws from the race, according to FEC rules. The Aug. 28 transfer date fell more than 80 days after her June 7 concession to Mr. Obama, in which she told supporters in Washington that "we must elect Barack Obama our president. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him."

Given Mrs. Clinton's concession speech in early June, the FEC has raised questions about the timing of the Aug. 28 transfer, sending a letter to the Clinton campaign last month asking for more details.

In response, Ms. Moskwa told the FEC in a letter that the campaign had complied with the 60-day rule because, despite Mrs. Clinton's endorsement of Mr. Obama in early June, there were still efforts afoot to "actively contest for" delegates.

"The committee engaged in vigorous activity through paid staff to make sure that her delegates were selected and seated at each of these events," she wrote, adding that the delegate-selection events occurred "throughout the month" and concluded June 29. (11.24.2008, Jim McElhatton (Contact)