By Alina Selyukh and Alexander Cohen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The campaign of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney rewarded at least nine staff members with a total of more than $200,000 in bonuses after he clinched the party's nomination in late August.
The senior aides received the payments in addition to their regular salaries on August 31, new financial disclosures show. The payments came the day after the close of the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, where Romney became the party's official candidate to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
The disclosure of the bonuses comes at a time when Romney's campaign has been under fire from a range of critics within the Republican Party.
They say Romney has not done enough to distinguish himself from a vulnerable president at a time when the economy is struggling and the unemployment rate is at 8.1 percent. Romney trails Obama in national polls.
Romney's campaign paid $37,500 to national political director Richard Beeson and $25,000 each to campaign manager Matt Rhoades, policy director Lanhee Chen, communications director Gail Gitcho, digital director Zac Moffatt, general counsel Kathryn Biber, and senior adviser Gabriel Schoenfeld, according to Federal Election Commission filings released late Thursday.
Two other aides, Jason McBride and Louis Tavares, received $10,000 each, the filings show.
"These were primary win bonuses pursuant to employment agreements paid after the convention," said campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. She provided no other details on the employee contracts.
Romney's campaign raised $66.1 million in August and spent $61.2 million.
Despite a healthy fundraising operation, Romney was forced take out a $20 million loan on August 22 to get through the late-August convention. He could not begin using a large chunk of his cash because U.S. campaign law prevented him from using money raised for the fall campaign (as opposed to the Republican primaries) until after he became the official nominee.
The campaign paid out $5 million back yet in August, filings showed, and officials say it has since repaid $4 million more.
(Editing by David Lindsey and Leslie Adler)