NEW YORK -- The gas money pales in comparison with the millions both sides are spending. But the campaign of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), up by two percentage points in a fierce re-election battle, alleging in a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday that his challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has improperly accepted the in-kind donation of a luxury bus from two supporters.
Rehberg has been rolling through Montana in his "Liberate Main Street" tour using a donated black and gold Prevost Marathon Coach bus. Federal law limits in-kind donations from couples, including the bus owners, to $5,000.
In their most recent FEC filing, Rehberg's campaign reported $4,880 of in-kind contributions from bus owner Ted Beck and his wife -- a hair under the limit. At dispute is whether Rehberg has reimbursed Beck enough for gas, insurance and other expenses. As support for the complaint, the Tester campaign sent two pictures of the bus's bill at a gas station.
The Rehberg campaign dismissed the complaint as bogus and vowed to pay back necessary expenses.
"As with most of what he says, Senator Tester is just wrong about this -- our jobs tour is properly accounted for on our FEC report," said Chris Bond, a Rehberg spokesman. "It speaks volumes that with just 19 days to go, Tester is wasting his time and that of the working press on false, frivolous mud-slinging, and it's yet another reminder that he is desperately running away from his record of 95% support for President Obama's job-killing policies."