Track owners took a gamble on GOP Campaign report shows hefty gifts to Sauerbrey

November 25, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Ellen R. Sauerbrey's campaign for governor may have faded in the stretch, but it was not for a lack of support from horse-racing and other gambling interests.

Individuals, companies and groups associated with racetracks donated at least $56,000 of the $1.4 million Sauerbrey received during the last campaign-finance reporting period, Oct. 19 through Nov. 17.

Sauerbrey -- who lost to Gov. Parris N. Glendening even though her campaign had been viewed as the Republican Party's best chance to capture the Maryland State House in three decades -- also received strong support from the national GOP during the closing weeks.

States contribute $12,000

State Republican parties and national GOP campaign funds donated at least $98,000 to the campaign committees of Sauerbrey and her running mate, Richard D. Bennett. Three state Republican parties -- representing Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania -- donated the legal maximum of $12,000.

Sauerbrey's post-election campaign finance report, filed early yesterday, also showed that her fund-raising surge in the last weeks of the campaign was fueled largely by out-of-state contributions.

While sources outside Maryland provided only 20 percent of the record $6.4 million Sauerbrey raised for the four-year election cycle, out-of-state contributions made up 42 percent of her take after Oct. 18. Her campaign spent all but $260,000 by Nov. 17.

Glendening's report was filed yesterday evening -- too late to be analyzed in time for this article. A summary of his report showed that his campaign raised about $6.2 million and spent all but $257,000.

The first campaign finance report filed after a general election is often revealing, because controversial givers sometimes wait to donate until they know their contributions won't be publicized before Election Day.

Two potentially controversial political action committees that waited until after Oct. 18 to contribute were the Pro-Life Maryland PAC, representing opponents of abortion, and the Pro Work PAC, which promotes state bans on union shop contracts. Sauerbrey received $1,000 from each.

Gun-related donations

While Glendening hammered Sauerbrey during the campaign for accepting contributions from handgun rights advocates, such groups provided relatively insignificant amounts to the Republican during her final push. Her largest identifiable gun-related donations after Oct. 18 were $1,000 from Associated Gun Clubs in Baltimore and $500 from Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association.

By contrast, racetrack interests moved aggressively to support Sauerbrey in the final weeks of the campaign.

At the federal level, Pimlico and Laurel track owner Joseph De Francis provided $250,000 in "soft money" to the Republican Governors Association, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on anti-Glendening ads. Hilton Hotels Corp., which owns Bally's at Ocean Downs, provided a similar amount.

Despite a long record of opposition to gambling, Sauerbrey was seen as the more flexible of the two candidates on the issue of allowing slot machines at Maryland tracks. Glendening has opposed expanded gambling since 1996.

On the state level, Sauerbrey received several contributions from racing industry interests that reached or approached the $8,000 maximum for individuals and corporations:

Ian M. Cumming and Annette P. Cumming, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., together donated $16,000. Ian Cumming is one of the top executives of Leucadia National Corp., a New York investment company that holds a minority interest in Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park.

Arthur M. Goldberg of Chatham, N.J., gave $8,000. Goldberg, who had been chairman of Bally Entertainment Corp., became the second-largest shareholder in Hilton after the hotel company acquired the casino company last year.

Earle I. Mack, a prominent horse owner and member of New York's Racing Commission, gave $8,000.

AmTote International Inc., a Hunt Valley-based supplier of betting equipment for racetracks, donated $7,500.

Outside the racing industry, Sauerbrey picked up some of her most significant support from the family of Steven and Mitchell Rales, who achieved recognition as corporate takeover specialists during the 1980s. Six members of the Rales family contributed a total of $29,000 to Sauerbrey and Bennett on Oct. 21. Steven and Mitchell Rales are the general partners of Danaher Corp., a Washington-based tool company.

Top Sauerbrey contributors

Fund for Pennsylvania Leadership, Harrisburg, Pa., 12,000

Georgia Republican Party Victory 98, Atlanta, 12,000

Massachusetts Republican Party, Boston, 12,000

Republican State Central Committee, Annapolis, 12,000

Western Republican PAC, Salt Lake City, 10,000

1133 Building Corp., New York, 8,000

Allcity Insurance Co., New York, 8,000

Alpha Bancorp Inc., Chicago, 8,000

Anderson Blake Construction Corp., Carle Place, N.Y., 8,000

Building Our Bases PAC, New Orleans, 8,000

Chasanoff Operating Co., Jericho, N.Y., 8,000

Cumming, Annette P., Jackson Hole, Wyo., 8,000

Cumming, Ian M., Jackson Hole, 8,000

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