Network, official aided governor Campaign-fund report reveals close timing of gift, plea for state help

November 26, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

On Oct. 8, with less than a month remaining before the November election, Discovery Communications Inc. gave Gov. Parris N. Glendening a boost in vote-rich Montgomery County by announcing it would locate its world headquarters in downtown Silver Spring.

Since then, state and company officials have been in discussions on a package of financial incentives to help the Bethesda-based parent of the Discovery Channel with an expansion that is expected to add 300 jobs to its current local work force of 800.

Less than three weeks after the governor and other officials gathered for the jubilant announcement, the chairman of Discovery and his wife showed their appreciation with two checks totaling $8,000 to Glendening's election campaign fund.

The contributions by John S. Hendricks and his wife, Maureen, followed $8,000 the couple gave the campaign a year earlier -- bringing both to the legal maximum they could donate to a gubernatorial ticket. Discovery gave Glendening $4,000 last year.

The most recent Hendricks donations appear to be legal, but the timing could expose the administration's final aid package to Discovery to increased scrutiny.

During the election, the campaign of Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey raised questions about possible links between Sunny Day Fund loans and campaign contributions -- with little apparent effect.

Glendening spokesman Ray Feldmann said yesterday that there no connection between the Hendricks donations and the negotiations.

"This administration doesn't make decisions on which companies it is going to assist based on campaign contributions," he said.

Hendricks could not be reached to comment.

The latest Hendricks donations were revealed in the Glendening campaign's first post-election campaign finance report -- filed late Tuesday.

The post-election report, which includes all gifts made from Oct. 19 through Nov. 17, can be revealing because controversial donors sometimes wait until after the final pre-election report deadline to make their contributions.

For example, this week's report includes the first contributions to Glendening's campaign by members of the family of Art Modell, whose Baltimore Ravens football team benefited from a stadium deal negotiated with the administration. Modell's son John and daughter-in-law Tracy gave $4,000 apiece.

The Glendening report details how the campaign raised about $800,000 after the final pre-election campaign fund reporting deadline Oct. 18. That amount, which brought the campaign's total receipts to $6.2 million, was eclipsed by the $1.4 million raised by Sauerbrey in the closing weeks of her campaign.

Although Sauerbrey ended up raising more money -- $6.4 million -- Glendening won by a 56 percent-to-44 percent ratio.

The Glendening campaign finance report, which became available after Sauerbrey's, shows that Democrats could not match the outpouring of support for Sauerbrey from her national party in the last 2 1/2 weeks of the campaign. The governor reported $18,000 in donations from national Democratic campaign funds, while Sauerbrey received almost $100,000 from Republican state and national committees.

While Glendening could not match the more than $50,000 Sauerbrey received from the horse-racing industry in the final days of the campaign, he did receive a smattering of sizable contributions from the same industry.

For example, Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., which owns Rosecroft Raceway, donated $1,000 Oct. 21. Country Life Farm near Bel Air, home of the thoroughbred Cigar, kicked in $1,000. Meanwhile, horse breeders' political action committees gave Glendening $4,000.

Sauerbrey's edge in horse-racing money is the apparent result of the more flexible stance she took toward slots at Maryland racetracks, which contrasted with Glendening's flat opposition.

Among other large donations disclosed in Glendening's report: $12,000 from the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education, on top of the labor federation's hundreds of thousands of dollars of spending on "issue ads" favorable to Glendening.

$8,000 from Tudor Farms near Cambridge, owned by Paul Tudor Jones. Jones is a high-powered broker-investor whose record as an environmental advocate is marred by a highly publicized case in which he had to pay a $2 million fine for illegally filling in wetlands.

$8,000 from Chesapeake Management Co. in Washington, a real estate company.

$8,000 from Panacom Inc., a commodities brokerage in Fort Lee, N.J.

$4,000 from Gail Zappa, widow of rock star Frank Zappa, to the campaign committee of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Townsend's report showed that the lieutenant governor continued to be a potent fund-raiser for the ticket in the final weeks of the campaign.

With the help of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, she raised $259,125 during the final weeks -- or about one-third of the ticket's total during the period.

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Top Glendening-Townsend contributors

Donations after Oct. 18

Contributor .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... .. Location .. .. .. ..Amount

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