Perot group organizing to lobby members of Congress HARFORD COUNTY


March 21, 1993|By Adriane B. Miller | Adriane B. Miller,Contributing Writer

Congressional representatives have played fast and loose with taxpayers' money for too long, and they aren't going to get away with it anymore, says a group of Harford County voters.

About 400 Harford County residents have paid $15 each to join United We Stand, America, the fledgling national organization headed by ex-presidential candidate Ross Perot.

They want to foster voter education in the county by distributing voting records of members of Congress. They want to focus voter attention on serious economic and social issues affecting the United States. They also hope to develop enough clout to make politicians more accountable.

But before the group can pressure legislators and the Clinton administration it needs to add muscle to its lean frame. Frank Adorney, interim chief of staff for the organization statewide, said building membership is the group's key function now.

"The economic issues are really secondary to the point of getting people involved and interested," he said. The group needs 20,000 members in Maryland before Mr. Perot will give it official status and funding. "The state chapters have to be formed, and only then will we get involved in issues," Mr. Adorney said.

About 30 members and others who met recently to talk about United We Stand, America in Harford County seem eager to get to the issues. They want to force legislators and President Clinton to rein in the national debt, and they want it done now.

David Boyle, coordinator of the Harford County chapter of United We Stand, America, said the nation has no time to lose.

"We've got a potential economic crisis due to the debt, and it may get a whole lot worse faster than people think if we don't get Congress to pay attention to it now," said Mr. Boyle, a Bel Air resident.

"We need to get the people informed on what's happening in Congress, what's going to be voted on," said Kathy Blizzard, an Abingdon resident and member of United We Stand, America. "Half the time the general public doesn't know what's being discussed and how they are spending our money."

Barry Weber of Bel Air said, "This is the first time that I feel very uneasy about the future of this country."

"We have to get the message out to people on how are we going to solve the deficit problem," said Mr. Weber.

Mr. Adorney, who pleaded for calm from the group's often bitter members, said United We Stand, America's objective is not to erode support for the president.

"Ross supports Clinton as president, and says we should all support him," Mr. Adorney said. Even so, he expressed skepticism of Mr. Clinton's plan for economic reform.

"In concept, it is a great plan," he said. "If he can pull it off, I'm all for him. But lobbyists are getting to him. And they're buying our reps and putting money in their pockets. This has to stop. The only way we stop it is by going out and getting members. Clinton's going to listen to us, or he's out next time around."

Many of the Harford County members of United We Stand, America said they would throw their support to Mr. Perot if he were to become a presidential candidate in 1996. Many are bitter that he was not elected in 1992. About 21 percent of registered voters in Harford County, 16,361 people, voted for Mr. Perot in November.

"I'm sure there are people who would be anxious for Ross to run again," Mr. Boyle said. Ms. Blizzard said she'd vote for him in an instant.

"I know some people think he's a crackpot, but at least he tells the truth," she said.

Mr. Adorney emphasized that the focus of the organization is not to

make Mr. Perot president. "We are not a party, we don't endorse candidates," Mr. Adorney said. "We are an educational forum to show people how legislators are voting on the issues. Our goal isn't to have Ross in office in '96. He is not seeking election at this point.

"We are seeking to support our government and Mr. Clinton, and put pressure on our elected representatives so we can get out of this economic chaos," Mr. Adorney said. "It is important to build up a national organization where we can have a real impact on Congress."

Mr. Boyle said people who join United We Stand, America eventually will get news of how legislators are voting, key bills before Congress and notice of where and when Mr. Perot is appearing on their behalf. The organization's $15 membership fee is used only to distribute such information, members said.

"The important thing is just to pay attention," Mr. Boyle said. "I'd rather have 1,000 people attend the meetings and never pay their $15, than only 20 people attend who paid."

0$ He said anyone could find his or

her legislators' track records by reading the newspaper, calling and writing to them.

"The problem is filtering out what's real and what's not," Mr. Boyle said. "You have a lot of different sources of information, and everybody has their own opinion."

Ms. Blizzard said she believes it is easier for her to get the information she needs about government if she belongs to a group whose purpose is voter education. And she thinks United We Stand, America will have plenty of clout with someone like Mr. Perot at the helm.

Mr. Weber said only a strong group with lots of vocal members will shake up the Washington bureaucracy.

"Jefferson said we deserve the government we get," he said. "We got it. But our problems have grown so large that now only a movement will be listened to by Washington."

The Harford County chapter of United We Stand, America meets next on Saturday at the Fallston Library, the same day Mr. Perot plans to appear on national television to discuss his plans. For more information, call (410) 893-0960.

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