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Kevin Mannix has paid off some old debts in preparation for a new campaign.
Mannix is trying to fill the congressional seat that opened with the retirement of Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore. The Salem Republican ran for attorney general and 2000 and governor in 2002 and 2006. He lost all three races and was left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign debts that were not paid off until he started considering this latest race.
Mannix recently paid off $347,000 in debts with loans from his Salem law firm, doing so by calling in the "accounts receivables" from his law practice, said Amy Langdon, his campaign manager.
Langdon said Mannix wanted to pay off his debts before starting a fresh campaign. She declined to say where the money came from, citing confidentiality between Mannix and his legal clients.
One major source of legal work for Mannix has been FreedomWorks, the Washington, D.C.-based group that seeks lower taxes and limited government regulation. The group reported paying Mannix $540,000 in fees from 2004 through 2006. The group's 2007 report has not been filed.
The campaign still owes the money, but now it is owed to his law firm rather than to other lenders.
Langdon told The Oregonian newspaper that none of the law-firm money came from Loren Parks, the businessman who has donated more than $1.5 million over the years to Mannix's assorted campaigns.
Cary Evans, a spokesman for Mike Erickson, another Republican seeking the Hooley seat, said Mannix's campaign finances could become an issue.
"He has been in a number of campaigns with large loans from specific individuals and then borrowed from one place or another to pay them back or not pay them back," Evans said. "Honestly, this is probably the same kind of scheme, if you ask me. And while it may be legal, it sure puts a lot of question onto who those individuals are who are funding him."
Jim Edmunson, the former chairman of the state Democratic Party, said Mannix is smart to repay the debt. As a candidate for federal office, Mannix must deal with tighter campaign finance rules than he faced while running for statewide office. He will need many more donors because federal rules limit individual giving to no more than $2,300 per election, and corporations and unions are barred from contributing.
"He has to improve his image as he can for that new donor base," Edmunson said. "It is a smart move to polish up his credit rating, so to speak."