Washington: Vice President Joe Biden`s 2008 U.S. presidential campaign has been ordered to pay a $219,000 penalty for improperly accepting a discounted private plane flight and taking individual campaign contributions above the legal limit, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Biden, a U.S. senator at the time, was one of several Democratic candidates for president in 2008, but dropped out early in the campaign before being selected as Democratic nominee Barack Obama`s running mate.
The FEC took the action against the Biden for President organization after an audit of the campaign`s activities, according to a statement dated Friday on the agency`s website. Federal law requires the commission to audit every political committee created by a presidential candidate who gets public funding for the party primary races.
A Biden spokeswoman said the vice president will pay the penalty to the U.S. Treasury to resolve the matter.
Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander told Politico, a news organization that covers U.S. politics, that the penalty was "relatively small" and that "some repayment is commonplace after presidential campaign audits."
The audit showed that Biden`s campaign accepted an improper corporate contribution -- round-trip flights for three people between New Hampshire and Iowa on a private airplane in June 2007. The audit did not identify the three people.
Biden`s campaign understated the value of the flights, reimbursing a company called GEH Air Transportation at too low a rate, according to the FEC audit.
The FEC said Biden`s campaign should have paid $34,800 for the flights. It said that by failing to pay a charter flight rate as required, the campaign received from GEH an improper contribution of $26,889 -- the $34,800 owed for the flights, minus the $7,911 actually paid.
Politico reported that government records show GEH is owned by a New York hedge fund called the Clinton Group that has been implicated, but not charged, by New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a pension fund kickback investigation.
The FEC audit also faulted Biden`s campaign regarding $106,000 in contributions from individuals that exceeded the $2,300 maximum per election set out by U.S. election law.