WASHINGTON -- Special interest groups have given Rep. Roy P. Dyson, D-1st, a sizable fund-raising edge over Republican challenger Wayne T. Gilchrest, who is now drawing a salary from campaign funds.
In a five-week period from Aug. 23 to Sept. 30, Dyson took in $141,054 in contributions, including $99,500 from political action committees representing labor unions and industry. After subtracting expenses, he had $76,185 in the bank as of Sept. 30.
Gilchrest received $30,853 in the same period, none of it from PACs. He had $12,753 in the bank.
This information is contained in the latest campaign finance reports the candidates were required to file yesterday with the government.
Gilchrest's report shows that the unemployed Kennedyville school teacher has begun to pay himself a $250-a-week salary out of campaign funds, an uncommon practice.
Campaign spokesman Tony Caligiuri said that Gilchrest took an unpaid leave of absence from his Kent County high school teaching job and that his savings have been depleted. His wife manages a video store.
Although earmarked as salary, the money is "basically expense money" for Gilchrest because he does not bill the campaign for expenses such as food and gasoline consumed while campaigning, Caligiuri said. He received his first salary check, $208.29 after taxes, on Sept. 27, the report says.
Caligiuri said the campaign checked with the National Republican Congressional Committee and was told the law permits such payments so that people who aren't wealthy can run.
Federal Election Commission spokeswoman Sharon Snyder said "the law is generally silent with regard to how" candidates may spend campaign funds. The House Ethics Committee, which has jurisdiction over incumbents only, bars them from converting campaign funds to personal use.
With the election three weeks away, Gilchrest's finance director, Diane Lynch, expressed optimism that he will reach his $200,000 fund-raising goal. She said his campaign needed time following his primary election victory Sept. 11 to organize fund-raising for the general election Nov. 6.
"Basically we're doing a lot of direct mail [fund-raising] and Wayne is making a lot of phone calls to donors, and they may be a $25 donor or a $1,000 donor," Lynch said.
She said he is not relying on large fund-raising events to raise cash, although tomorrow Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward J. Derwinski is scheduled to appear at a $150-a-person dinner.
Marilyn Quayle, wife of the vice president, has offered to host a fund-raising event, but one has not yet been scheduled, Lynch said.
Dyson's campaign manager, Chris Robinson, could not be reached for comment on Dyson's fund-raising plans.
Dyson's report shows that in total this year he has raised $337,574 and spent $385,619. He has debts of $27,493, including a $25,000 loan he made to his campaign in 1988.
As the Sept. 11 Democratic primary approached, Dyson, who had three opponents, received and spent tens of thousands of dollars, the report says. For example, the American Postal Workers Union, the Graphic Communication Union and a group representing bakers, confectionery and tobacco workers gave him $7,000 from Sept. 4 to Sept. 7.
He also received contributions from the National Right to Life anti-abortion group ($1,000), American Federation of Teachers ($5,000), Machinists' union ($5,000), American Medical Association ($5,000), Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. ($3,000) and the House Leadership Fund ($5,000), a Democratic PAC.
During the same five-week period, $33,240 was contributed by individuals, among them Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, who gave $1,000 on the eve of the primary, and state Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, who contributed $1,000.
Dyson received another $8,313 from political party committees, according to his report.
Gilchrest, meanwhile, received $24,403 from individuals and $6,450 from political party committees. Since the start of the year, he has raised $79,292, including a $100 PAC contribution, and spent $67,669.