Opinion: Biden pays off much debt, Giuliani a little, Ron Paul still has zero


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Joseph Biden, who’s been regularly claiming he’s not ‘the guy’ who will be Barack Obama’s vice presidential selection, was busy in July paying down the debt from his own, unsuccessful Democratic presidential campaign.

Using federal matching funds, Biden slashed his debt to $173,999 from $1.15 million the previous month, according to Federal Election Commission records filed Wednesday. Biden spent $13.8 million on his candidacy and dropped out of the race after a poor showing in Iowa.


Biden’s July expenses included giving refunds of $2,300 to the man known as Mississippi’s best-known attorney, Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, and Scruggs’ son, Zach Scruggs.

Scruggs, a longtime major donor to Democrats nationally and the brother-in-law of Republican Trent Lott, gained fame and wealth by suing asbestos manufacturers and tobacco companies.

His fortunes turned downward in March when he pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a judge who handled a suit over how to divide $26.5 million in legal fees from an $89-million settlement over Hurricane Katrina claims. He reported to prison earlier this summer to begin a five-year sentence.

Son Zach Scruggs, also a lawyer, admitted knowing about the felony and not reporting it. He’s serving 14 months in prison.

Former Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani also paid down his debt -- but not nearly as much. At the end of July, Giuliani still owed $3.53 million, down slightly from the $3.65 million he owed at the end of June.

Unlike Biden, Giuliani did not use the federal financing system. He once envisioned raising more than $125 million for his primary effort, and he ended up raising ‘only’ $65.8 million, including $800,000 he lent himself.

Rep. Ron Paul still has a presidential campaign surplus of $588,000 and zero debt after raising $35 million for his failed Republican run. But he’s unopposed in Texas for his 11th House term.


So presidential money is not really a bother for him. He’s even planning his own counter-convention during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in 12 days.

-- Dan Morain