your connection to The Boston Globe

Obama pays parking tickets 17 years late

Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

BOSTON --Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got more than an education when he attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. He also got a healthy stack of parking tickets, most of which he never paid.

The Illinois Senator shelled out $375 in January -- two weeks before he officially launched his presidential campaign -- to finally pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and their associated late fees.

The story was first reported Wednesday by The Somerville News.

Obama received 17 parking tickets in Cambridge between 1988 and 1991, mostly for parking in a bus stop, parking without a resident permit and failing to pay the meter, records from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation office show.

He incurred $140 in fines and $260 in late fees in Cambridge in all, but he paid $25 for two of the tickets in February 1990.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, dismissed the tickets as not relevant.

"He didn't owe that much and what he did owe, he paid," Psaki said on Wednesday. "Many people have parking tickets and late fees. All the parking tickets and late fees were paid in full."


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three years ago, long after Sen. John Kerry had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, fellow Democrat Dennis Kucinich continued to campaign for the White House. Now, federal regulators say the Ohio congressman has to pay for his futile adventure.

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday said Kucinich, who is again running for president, must repay the government $135,518 in public matching funds that he spent after he had become ineligible to use them.

FEC auditors said Kucinich spent the money between March 4, 2004, and July 29, 2004, when Kerry was officially nominated. Candidates who receive less than 10 percent of the popular vote in two consecutive primaries lose their eligibility for money from the taxpayer financed presidential campaign fund.

The Kucinich campaign has disputed the auditors' conclusions, saying private money raised between August and December should be applied to debts incurred while Kucinich continued to campaign. The FEC disagreed.

If the campaign does not pay the money back, the FEC could take steps to enforce the repayment.


LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada Republicans have approved a plan to move their 2008 presidential caucus to Feb. 7, six weeks earlier than previously scheduled.

"We're committed now," Paul Willis, acting state GOP chairman, said Thursday. "It's going to coincide with our precinct meetings throughout the state."

The state executive committee approved the move late Wednesday, amid concern that Nevada Democrats were reaping a windfall of media and candidate attention since moving their party caucus to Jan. 19 -- second in the nation behind Iowa.

Nevada Republicans' new spot on the calendar places them two days after "Super Tuesday," when more than a dozen states, including California, are considering holding their primaries.

Supporters of the move have said they believe the new date will encourage candidates campaigning in California to stop in Nevada with hopes of keeping the state competitive in the general election.

"Some people are saying it could be anticlimactic, with the other votes before then," Willis said. "But no one's going to take the chance to leave us out of the equation."

States that move their contests earlier than Feb. 5 lose delegates at the party convention, according to Republican National Committee rules.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama just can't escape the word articulate.

"He's charismatic, he's articulate, he's a very strong figure on the national stage," White House political adviser Karl Rove told an Arkansas crowd. "But something tells me that people are going to say (they want) experience and depth. As a result it's going to be, 'Can he live up to the standards?'"

Rove spoke at an event arranged by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, a Democratic presidential hopeful, described Obama to the New York Observer in January as, among presidential candidates, "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Biden later apologized for his remarks.

After Biden's remarks, the Illinois senator cautioned that they could be taken as disparaging toward previous black presidential candidates, including Carol Moseley Braun, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

President Bush also referred to Obama as "an attractive guy, he's articulate" during a January interview on Fox News Channel.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson traveled to Los Angeles this week to attend a bank dedication and raise money for his presidential bid -- a trip he did not disclose publicly.

That has upset some folks in his state.

Bob Johnson, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said Thursday that the governor should disclose when he leaves the state for a campaign event or official state business.

"Obviously I think that the governor, like the president, is a public official and when he travels by plane or car, the public needs to know how he is traveling and his destination," Johnson said.

Richardson, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, confirmed at a news conference on Thursday that he had attended three fundraisers in California a day earlier.

However, the governor's campaign considers fundraisers private and generally declines to provide information about them.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney included West Virginia coal in his vision of an energy-independent U.S. on Thursday.

Romney advocated coal-to-liquid and coal-to-gas efforts along with other energy sources such as biodiesel fuel and wind, solar and nuclear power. Romney touted conservation as well.

"Our cars don't make a lot of sense in some cases, and our homes can be awful fuel inefficient as well," Romney told about 300 members and guests of the Republican Executive Committee for Kanawha County, the state's most populous county and the home of Charleston, its capital.

Romney told reporters afterward that the federal government must offer such aid as strategic investments to offset what he termed manipulation of the energy markets by oil producing nations.

"We can't simply look and say, the market will solve this problem," Romney said.


Associated Press Writers Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington, Jon Gambrell in Little Rock, Ark., Deborah Baker and Barry Massey in Santa Fe, N.M., and Lawrence Messina in Charleston, W.Va., contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Nevada Republican Party