Down And Out In San Diego

THROUGHOUT THE GOP convention, delegates flourished thousands of bright blue-and-red signs reading "Dole-Kemp '96." The signs' small print read: "Paid for by Jack Kemp for Vice President Committee."

That marks the latest clever trick the Dole camp has used to get around Federal Election Commission spending limits. In order to boost spending at the convention, Bob Dole's campaign created a new political committee on Aug. 7 to pay for the signs, plus Kemp's staff, hotel, and other costs. The tab's unknown, yet likely is in the tens of thousands. "This is perfectly legal," says Dole spokeswoman Christina Martin. Certainly, it's a loophole. Earlier, Dole used creative accounting to transfer expenses from his cash-strapped primary to his general-election fund.

For a budget-cutter, Dole has had problems staying under the spending ceiling. He hit the $37.1 million primary-season cap early. The Dems have filed a complaint with the FEC, saying Dole was over by $342,000 in May. But Dole's money woes are over. Once he was nominated, he qualified for $62 million in public funds.

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