Friday, March 09, 2007

Obama pays 17-year-old parking tickets

BOSTON (Reuters) - As he prepared to announce his campaign for the White House, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama took care of some unfinished business at Harvard University -- paying about $400 in parking fines dating back to his days as a law student.

Two weeks before the Illinois senator officially entered the presidential race on February 10, he paid parking fines he received while attending Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Cambridge city official said on Thursday.

"I think it's great, we always like to collect," said Susan Clippinger, director of Cambridge's Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department.

Obama paid Cambridge $375 on January 26 for 17 parking tickets received between 1988 and 1990, she said. He paid neighboring Somerville another $45 for late fees on two parking tickets from the early 1990s, a Somerville official added.

Obama also paid a $73 auto excise tax he owed Somerville, said city spokesman Tom Champion.

The Boston Globe reported in January that he owed Somerville the money.

A spokesman for Obama was not immediately available to comment but the Globe quoted Jen Psaki of the Obama campaign as saying the senator had paid for the tickets out of a personal account.