The Reform Party's convention committee should refund the U.S. government $333,558 in taxpayer financing for the party's 2000 presidential convention, the Federal Election Commission ruled Thursday.

In all, the Reform Party Convention Committee received $2.5 million in federal funding for its presidential nominating convention in Long Beach, Calif. The gathering was a raucous one, producing dueling nominees for president, Pat Buchanan and John Hagelin.

A $295,623 payment to the Performance Group for convention consulting accounts for the biggest share of the money auditors said the convention committee owes the U.S. Treasury.

Auditors said the firm completed few of the tasks it agreed to take on for the party.

Convention committee attorney Dale Cooter told the FEC in a letter that the party and its convention committee also believed the payment was not a legitimate convention expense and sued to try to get the money back.

Cooter said the party also agreed with auditors that $14,821 paid to Corporate Planners Unlimited for a Las Vegas event was unrelated to the presidential nominating process and not an appropriate convention expense.

Auditors found $23,114 in other expenses it said were not documented by the party or were not convention-related.

The Commission voted 6-0 to approve the audit.