Sununu using money from former campaign fund

June 30, 1991|By Jeff Gerth | Jeff Gerth,New York Times News Service

CONCORD, N.H. -- Money from a $230,000 political fund lef over from John H. Sununu's tenure as governor of New Hampshire is helping cover his personal expenses as White House chief of staff, and payments from the fund have stepped up in the last eight months, public records show.

New Hampshire law allows money raised for state races, such as Mr. Sununu's for governor, to be used for the personal expenses of a candidate or a candidate's family. But when Mr. Sununu went to Washington in 1989, his aides said the balance in the fund would be used only for political purposes.

But now Mr. Sununu's financial disclosure report shows that, with much of his personal holdings of more than $1 million tied up in real estate, the New Hampshire fund -- called the Sununu Committee -- has been tapped.

A review of the Sununu Committee's records, filed here with the New Hampshire secretary of state, shows that money from the fund began covering Sununu family expenses in July 1990, when a $3,768.00 check was drawn to the United States Treasury for "travel and miscellaneous expenses."

Since November, there have been another four such payments to the United States Treasury, totaling $3,232.

According to Mr. Sununu's financial disclosure report, filed in May with the White House and released in June, the committee paid for a variety of political, personal and official trips by him or his family to Boston, New Hampshire and Florida, among other places.

The treasurer of the Sununu Committee, Edwin D. Duvall, a longtime business and political associate as well as a neighbor of Mr. Sununu, said in an interview that the committee's disbursements were handled by Paul Collins Jr. Mr. Collins, who was finance director of the committee when Mr. Sununu was governor, now is a special assistant to the president for political affairs.

Mr. Collins did not return a phone call from a reporter on Wednesday seeking comment, but in an interview in February 1989 he discussed what would happen with the committee's leftover money.

"When the governor decided last May he would not be running for a fourth term, which is what he would have used this money for, he said he would let the public know whatever happened to the money," Mr. Collins said then.

"When Sununu announced he wasn't going to run again, that was one of the first questions: What would happen to the money?" Mr. Collins continued. "He indicated it was not his intention to personally put it in his pockets."

In the interview, he said that Mr. Sununu cannot write checks on the account. The White House chief of staff did not return a call from a reporter seeking comment.

The most recent Sununu Committee report, filed last month, shows a balance of about $234,000.

Mr. Duvall, the committee treasurer, said the committee stopped soliciting money after Mr. Sununu announced he would not run again for governor. The committee raised about $1 million from 1984 to 1988, the records show.

Mr. Duvall runs an insurance agency based in Salem, N.H., and Wakefield, Mass., called Lakeside Insurance Agency. He owns about 60 percent of the stock, and Nancy Sununu, wife of the former governor, owns the rest, according to Mr. Duvall and Mr. Sununu's financial disclosure statement.

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