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Tennessee: if you can't raise the money, lower the bridge (loan)

The Tennessean reports: During the special election earlier this year for the state Senate, Kathryn Bowers used what some call a loophole in the state's political fundraising rules.

The Memphis Democrat, who was a member of the state House then, was not allowed to raise cash for her campaign because it's against the law for sitting state elected officials to raise money while the legislature is in session. But here is what she could do: She could borrow cash and in-kind services, as long as she promised to pay back the contributors in the future.

And that's exactly what she did. On credit, she purchased ads on the local radio station, phone service for the campaign, office furniture and printing for pamphlets mailed to voters' homes. In all, Bowers racked up $40,000 in debt to beat back her opponents.

"While it does look funny, it is legal," said Drew Rawlins with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, the state agency that monitors elected officials' campaign finance. "There's nothing in the statute that says who you have to pay first." -- Bowers may have used loophole to cover election costs - Sunday, 07/10/05