New Jersey NAACP asks Whitman not to take office Campaign finances are reported early

November 14, 1993|By New York Times News Service

TRENTON, N.J. -- Staking a position markedly different from that of some black ministers and civil rights leaders, the New Jersey Chapter of the NAACP urged Gov.-elect Christine Todd Whitman yesterday not to take office until investigations clear her of allegations that Republicans spent $500,000 to suppress the urban black vote.

"There is no peace between the clergy of this state and Mrs. Whitman," the Rev. Calvin McKinney, the first vice president of the General Baptist State Convention of New Jersey, said at a news conference called by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "We expect her to respond to and follow the recommendations of the NAACP."

Trying to quash the controversy, Mrs. Whitman's campaign and the Republican State Committee released yesterday the campaign's financial reports through Election Day. The reports showed that together they spent nearly $48,000 in so-called "street money" on Election Day, with most of it dispersed in payments of $50 apiece to scores of poll watchers, $20 each to workers to get out the vote and miscellaneous expenses for transportation and lunches. But the report did not put to rest questions that have dogged Mrs. Whitman since Tuesday, when her campaign manager, Edward J. Rollins Jr., said workers had used the street money to suppress the black vote in urban areas. The matter put Mrs. Whitman to the test just one week after she narrowly won election, and yesterday's call by the NAACP was a clear indication that in some quarters the legitimacy of her victory was in question.

For days, Mrs. Whitman had steadfastly denied that payoffs were made to suppress the black vote. On Friday she met with the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and other black leaders in an effort to quell black anger over Mr. Rollins' statements.

Mrs. Whitman released her financial report yesterday, nine days before she was required to by law. The Republican State Committee's release of its records came a full two months before its Jan. 15 reporting date. "We did it to convince those who still remain to be convinced that absolutely nothing happened," said Carl Golden, the chief spokesman for Mrs. Whitman. "Nothing in those reports provide even the remotest support to the allegations that have been made."

The reports that were released yesterday did not include all the funds that were circulated by or for the Republicans on Election Day. County committees control their own funds, as do the Republican majorities in the Senate and the Assembly.

Mrs. Whitman was not present yesterday at the news conference where the records were released, and Mr. Golden turned aside all questions on the controversy.

In one of the closest gubernatorial races in New Jersey's history, Mrs. Whitman defeated the incumbent, Gov. Jim Florio, a Democrat, by fewer than 30,000 votes out of nearly 2.5 million cast.

Federal and state officials have already begun investigating Mr. Rollins' initial claims, and the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has said it will hold a separate investigation into how street money was spent.

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