Sarbanes leads Maryland delegation in fund raising with nearly $290,000

August 18, 1993|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, gearing up to run for his fourth Senate term, led the way in political fund raising among Maryland members of Congress during the first six months of 1993, raising nearly $290,000 -- the bulk of it from from out-of-state contributors and special interest political action committees.

Among Marylanders in the House, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, the Baltimore County Republican considering whether to seek re-election to a relatively safe House seat, or run for governor, was the most aggressive fund-raiser, receiving donations of $228,000.

Mrs. Bentley, who maintains a permanent campaign organization, reported by far the highest expenditures among Marylanders -- $171,801.46 -- in the first six months of the year. Still, she ended June with a $196,000 campaign treasury on hand, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Were she to run for governor, Mrs. Bentley would not be able to transfer the money to a gubernatorial campaign fund, according to state elections officials. If she decided to challenge Mr. Sarbanes, a notion she dismisses, Mrs. Bentley could use her campaign funds for that effort.

Rep. Constance A. Morella, the Republican who represents much of Montgomery County, reported raising the least amount of money among Maryland House members --$2,877.70 -- during the first six months of the year, but had the largest campaign treasury June 30 -- $285,047.39. Mrs. Morella has been urged by a number of Republicans, local and national, to challenge Mr. Sarbanes, but so far she has shown no inclination to give up her safe House seat for the risky Senate bid.

While Mrs. Morella had the biggest campaign kitty and one of the safest Maryland House seats, her Western Maryland Republican colleague, Roscoe G. Bartlett, was in the opposite position. With Republicans and Democrats lining up to oppose the conservative freshman, Mr. Bartlett's campaign reported only $7,792.64 on hand as of June 30 and still had a debt of $61,477 from the 1992 campaign -- all of that owed to the congressman himself.

Candidates are required to report contributions from individuals of $200 or more and to report all political action committee contributions. Individuals can give a maximum of $1,000 to a candidate for the primary election and $1,000 for the general election. PACs can give $5,000 for each election to a candidate.

Mr. Sarbanes reported receiving contributions of $175,418 from 278 individuals in the first six months of the year. Only 13 of those contributors were Marylanders and they donated less than 7 percent of the total Mr. Sarbanes received. Much of the money came from fellow Greek-Americans across the country, who are said to regard the Senate's only Greek-American with pride. Mr. Sarbanes also received $13,000 in small contributions that were not itemized.

Mr. Sarbanes' only announced opponent, Eastern Shore Republican C. Ronald Franks, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, criticized the senator for the large percentage of special interest and out-of-state money. "Who does he fight for?" asked Mr. Franks, who reported raising $9,780 and lending his campaign another $1,000.

The senator was vacationing and unavailable for comment, said Bruce Frame, his press secretary. But Mr. Frame acknowledged that Mr. Sarbanes has been criticized in the past for raising large amounts out-of-state and said "that will change" in future campaign finance filings for the 1994 campaign. "There will be a mix of contributors from various locations," he added.

For Mr. Bartlett, the campaign finance report presented a grim picture. He was elected unexpectedly to the House in November after Democratic Rep. Beverly B. Byron was upset in the March primary. A number of Republicans, including his former campaign co-chairman, as well as Democrats are talking about taking him on next year.

For the first six months of the year, Mr. Bartlett's campaign reported raising more than $31,000 but spent almost that much. The expenditures included $5,000 as partial repayment to Mr. Bartlett for loans to his own campaign. The report also showed that he lent another $1,000 to his campaign and that he is still owed $61,000.

Though it did not endorse him last year, The National Rifle Association tried to help Mr. Bartlett by contributing nearly $10,000 through two PACs, funds which the congressman earmarked for reduction of his 1992 campaign debt. Although Mr. Bartlett's positions are in tune with those of the NRA -- among other things, he has introduced the "Citizens' Self-Defense Act of 1993" to assure gun-ownership rights -- he did not get the organization's endorsement last year. That went, instead, to his Democratic opponent Thomas Hattery, based on his record in the House of Delegates.

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