Glendening's Big Game

$1,000 tickets: He's not running for re-election, but governor wants substantial slush fund.

May 23, 1999

AT THIS stage in his career, you'd think the last thing on Gov. Parris N. Glendening's mind would be soliciting folks for a $1,000-a-ticket fund-raiser. Think again.

The governor is actively involved in trying to raise $200,000 or more at his June 3 fund-raiser. Tickets for the separate VIP reception cost an eye-popping $4,000 each.

Does this imply only businesses and lobbyists who contribute to the VIP affair get in the governor's good graces? Indeed, many ticket-buyers could make donations simply to protect themselves.

Mr. Glendening can't run for a third term under the state constitution, and he's not likely to seek any other office in 2002. He says he'll use the money to retire old campaign debt and for expenses tied to his efforts to become chairman of the National Governors Association. The money also could help the governor support Vice President Al Gore's presidential efforts next year.

In other words, it is a giant political slush fund, which Mr. Glendening can dip into for a wide variety of activities. Donors are giving him this money without knowing how it ultimately will be spent.

This makes a mockery of campaign finance reform efforts. Money given to political candidates should be used for specific election campaigns. To turn these funds into all-purpose bank accounts sends the wrong message to the public about the honest intentions of public officials.

No wonder the public is so disillusioned with American politicians. Election law reforms to clarify fund-raising and spending practices are long overdue in Annapolis. Don't look for the governor to lead the charge, though. He's too busy selling $1,000 and $4,000 tickets to his fund-raising event.

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