Hattery, Bartlett congressional campaigns in debt

March 12, 1993|By Jim Payne | Jim Payne,Capital News Service

WASHINGTON -- Western Maryland's tumultuous congressional race ended in November, but campaign debt continues to haunt Roscoe G. Bartlett and Thomas Hattery.

Federal Election Commission records show the Hattery For Congress Committee ended 1992 owing $57,517.94, while Mr. Bartlett's campaign reported a debt of $65,485.73. Neither candidate has reduced his debt since the year-end report, they said.

Personal loans the candidates made to their own election committees make up almost all of the debt. There is no limit to the amount candidates can contribute to their campaigns, and personal loans are a source of quick cash during a race.

"You set out planning an optimum and a minimum [fund-raising] plan. If you find, over time, you're unable to meet the minimum plan, you make yourself a loan to cover your expenses," Mr. Hattery said.

More than three-quarters of the Hattery committee's debt consists of loans from the Democratic state legislator. Mr. Hattery said the $45,000 in loans he made to the committee would be the last debts to be paid off.

The Committee to Elect Bartlett for Congress owes the Republican congressman $65,485.73 of the nearly $106,000 in loans he made to his committee during the election. The outstanding loans constitute all of the Bartlett committee's remaining debt.

Bartlett campaign manager Melissa Cartano said the congressman's reliance on loans was the only way to gather money quickly in a race few expected him to win early on.

"When you run as an outsider, it's difficult to raise money. At best, a lot of people hedge their bets," Ms. Cartano said. "People had gotten into the habit of not contributing a lot of money in the 6th District."

The methods that Mr. Bartlett and Mr. Hattery use to retire their debt will vary due to differences in fund-raising rules the two men must follow.

Mr. Hattery, who held on to his seat in the Maryland House of Delegates during his unsuccessful congressional campaign, has since been handcuffed by a 5-year-old state rule forbidding House members to engage in fund-raising while the Legislature is in session.

The 90-day session began in January and runs until April 12. After that, Mr. Hattery said, he will attend to raising money. He said he will count primarily on individuals who have supported him in the past, but he has not "focused on the details yet."

Congress, however, has no similar rule, so Mr. Bartlett can raise money all year.

Ms. Cartano said the Bartlett committee's plans to raise money to repay the congressman will be spread out over the course of the next year. Money raised will be split between the 1992 debt and his 1994 re-election bid, she said.

The Federal Election Commission requires that all debts be paid off, including personal loans, before a candidate's election committee may be dissolved. But a candidate may collect funds for a new race by starting a new campaign committee.

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