Kaufman makes issue of big money in mayoral race

He says opponents will owe favors to businesses

May 22, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

With the backdrop of clanging hammers and whirring cranes, mayoral candidate A. Robert Kaufman criticized his opponents' fund-raising efforts yesterday and their alleged ties to big business.

Kaufman, the Democrat founder of the City Wide Coalition, delivered his comments at President and Fleet streets, the site of the under-construction Wyndham International Inner Harbor East Hotel. Kaufman, 68, criticized the city's plans to grant its owners an estimated $85 million in property tax breaks as evidence for campaign contribution reform.

The hotel developer, John Paterakis Sr., has been a longtime supporter of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and state Democrats. The Paterakis family and its company, H&S Bakery Inc., have contributed $15,000 to Democratic campaigns over the past three years.

Kaufman noted that City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III and former East Baltimore Councilman Carl Stokes have raised $400,000 and $250,000 for their mayoral campaigns with much of the money coming from companies hoping to do business with the city.

"If either of these men become mayor of Baltimore, it is practically guaranteed that other Wyndham situations will occur during their administrations," said Kaufman, who has received a $100,000 pledge in campaign support from artist and civic activist Sally Kearsley.

Schmoke has dismissed any link between Paterakis' campaign support and the Wyndham project. The mayor said he supported the hotel plan, which the city estimates would receive a $25 million tax exemption, to create jobs and extend the Inner Harbor east toward Fells Point.

Stokes countered Kaufman's comments yesterday, saying donations from his 400 contributors make his campaign's average $100 each.

"It's a very inclusive campaign," Stokes said. "And that's intentional."

Bell campaign aides also dismissed Kaufman's accusations.

"To get your message out, you have to raise money," said Marshall Bell, his brother and campaign aide. "It's the simple nature of democracy."

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