Aron puts $100,000 into Senate bid, but she, like Brock, trails Sarbanes

April 30, 1994|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Ruthann Aron has put $100,000 of her own money into her long-shot Senate campaign, making her the second Republican candidate to pour substantial personal money into an effort to unseat Democrat Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

A report filed with the Federal Election Commission shows that in addition to the $103,000 she put in -- most of it as a loan -- Ms. Aron raised nearly $75,000 in the first quarter of 1994 and had $163,000 in her campaign treasury on March 31.

Another Republican hopeful, William E. Brock, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, lent his campaign $290,000 in the same period and raised an additional $145,000. He ended the quarter with $75,000.

The two millionaires are far ahead of their Republican rivals in fund-raising, although both trail Mr. Sarbanes, who received $240,000 in donations and ended the quarter with $741,000. He put no personal money into his campaign.

Congressional candidates are not limited in the amount they may give or lend to their campaigns. But Congress is considering legislation that probably will include restrictions.

In the meantime, Ms. Aron, trying to define herself as a "small businesswoman," is reacting sensitively to being characterized as a lawyer and millionaire.

Last week she said on a Baltimore radio show that she is "not a practicing lawyer," even though her campaign biography says she "has been a practicing attorney in Montgomery County since 1980."

And, apparently seeking to spread the label, she said flatly that another of her rivals, Del. C. Ronald Franks of Queenstown, is a millionaire. Mr. Franks disputed that as he released his tax returns and a net-worth statement this week.

Mr. Sarbanes, though leading his Republican rivals in fund-raising, lags behind 21 of the other 25 senators seeking re-election, according to figures published by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Demonstrating the power of incumbency, Mr. Sarbanes, who is seeking his fourth term, received $124,750 -- 52 percent of total contributions -- from special-interest political action committees in the first quarter.

Most of that money came from labor unions and from industries and organizations over which the Senate Banking Committee has jurisdiction. Mr. Sarbanes is expected to become chairman of that committee next year unless the Republicans gain control of the Senate.

Of the $76,450 Mr. Sarbanes received in large individual donations, 71 percent came from out of state. Mr. Sarbanes also received $20,282 in small contributions that were not itemized. And he received $17,500 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Mr. Franks, a Grasonville dentist, reported raising $14,000 in the first quarter and ended it with $3,300. Ross Z. Pierpont, a retired Baltimore surgeon and perennial political candidate, raised $2,450 and lent his campaign $2,000 more. He had $1,300 at the end of the quarter.

Denying Ms. Aron's assertion that he is a millionaire, Mr. Franks said that he is worth $472,500.

His 1992 tax return showed that he had income of $129,488 and claimed itemized federal deductions of $38,764, including hTC $27,678 in mortgage interest, $10,400 in state and local taxes and $686 in charitable contributions. He paid $23,438 in federal taxes and $8,175 in Maryland taxes.

Ms. Aron and Mr. Brock said last week that they will release their tax returns. Dr. Pierpont said this week that he will not because he files jointly with his wife, Grace, and she doesn't want the returns released.

Ms. Aron already has filed a financial disclosure form with the Senate that showed she and her husband are worth between $1.7 million and $4.8 million. Dr. Pierpont disclosed that he is worth between $3.4 million and $5.5 million. Mr. Brock has not yet filed his disclosure form, which is due May 15.

Last week, a radio listener told Ms. Aron on a call-in talk show that there are 56 lawyers and 27 millionaires in the Senate and asked her how she was different.

She responded: "Both Bill Brock and Ron Franks also are worth over $1 million. So I guess I can't distinguish myself on that."

She went on to say: "I'm not a practicing lawyer. I run a company. And so I don't think I'm one of those attorneys you are talking about."

She said this week that she does not represent private clients, but is general counsel to her own development company and is "of counsel" to a law firm where she has "lent my business real estate expertise."

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