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State Treasurer Giannoulias Defends SUV Purchase

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (juh-NOO'-lee-as) is defending the decision to use money from a state college savings program to buy a $26,000 government vehicle.

Giannoulias told reporters Monday that the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid is a reasonable operating expense because it's used by marketers who work to bring people into the college savings program.

The Chicago Tribune reported in Monday's newspaper that Giannoulias used the state's Bright Start fund to pay for the SUV. The program's investments lost $85 million last year.

Giannoulias spokesman Scott Burnham told the newspaper that the cash for the SUV came from a fee paid to the treasurer's office by an investment firm that manages the fund.

Giannoulias acknowledged he and others in the treasurer's office also use vehicle.

-ASSOCIATED PRESS

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