Friday, December 01, 2000

Bush sympathizers put money where their miff is

Outrage at Fla. challenge brings money to Bush camp

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        RICHWOOD — Boone County resident Shawn Murdock voted for George W. Bush Nov. 7, but she didn't contribute money to the Republican's presidential campaign.

        But after receiving an e-mail two weeks ago from the Bush campaign that asked for money to help fund the legal fight over Florida's election results, Mrs. Murdock used her credit card to fire off a $100 contribution.

        “I never donated money to a politician before, but I am just so frustrated and mad about what is going on in Florida that I wanted to do something,” said Mrs. Murdock, 32, who owns a Florence advertising agency with her husband, who is also named Shawn.

[photo] Shawn Murdock donated $100 to George W. Bush's election campaign.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “I'm glad the (Bush campaign) made donating money so easy,” she said. “I was able to send it over the Internet, and I feel like I've really contributed something to help Gov. Bush win the election.”

        Mrs. Murdock is among Tristate residents who have given a total of $116,175 to help Mr. Bush pay for the legal fight.

        Donors from across the country — 224 from Ohio and 72 from Kentucky — have contributed about $6 million to the fund, according to Mr. Bush's Austin, Texas, campaign office.

        A list posted on the campaign's Web site shows nearly 8,500 people have donated. Most contributions are small, some as little as $5.

        Of Ohio's 224 contributors, the 61 from Southwest Ohio have given $41,415.

        Seventy-two Kentucky residents have contributed $23,445. That includes $1,295 from 16 Northern Kentucky residents.

        Some of the donations from this area have been sizable.

        Seven people with Cincinnati addresses have given the maximum of $5,000, including businessmen William DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds.

        Both were also large contributors to Mr. Bush's election effort and were heavily involved in the candidate's Ohio campaign. Neither Mr. DeWitt nor Mr. Reynolds returned phone calls this week to comment.

        But most of the donations are smaller, many under $100.

        Officials from the Bush campaign did not return phone calls. But earlier this week the Associated Press reported the donations are being spent on legal fees, staff and travel costs.

        Under federal law, there are no limits to the size of the donations and the parties do not have to identify their contributors. Corporate and union contributions are prohibited.

        The Bush campaign is voluntarily limiting contributions to $5,000 and is posting the names of its donors on its Web site.

        The Bush camp also is raising money to pay the costs of preparing to take office in January. The Clinton administration has frozen $5.3 million in transition funds because the election is still being contested in the courts.

        According to the Associated Press, Mr. Gore has raised $3 million for legal fees and expenses and is no longer soliciting or accepting contributions.

        Unlike the Bush Web site fund, it is not possible to make a donation to the Gore legal fund over the Internet, and no list of donors is available.

        A recorded phone message at Gore campaign headquarters in Nashville stated the office is being shut down and callers are referred to Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

        Democratic Party officials did not return phone calls to comment.

        The Bush camp contacted donors via e-mail from a database of people who had contributed to the campaign or who had made contact with the campaign office.

        “That's how they found me,” Mrs. Murdock said. “I had been on the Web site earlier so they had my name.”

        Other donors took their own steps to make a contribution.

        Montgomery resident Linda Wilbers, 46, a real estate agent, contacted local Republican Party officials about how she could get involved. They directed her to the Bush Web site, and she sent $100 to Texas.

        “I have been watching what's going on (in Florida), and I felt so helpless,” Ms. Wilbers said. “I wanted to do something constructive because I think there are a lot of wrong things going on.”

        The sense that the Democrats are trying to take an election that rightfully belongs to Mr. Bush also inspired Covington resident William Wright to contribute $200.

        “I was not originally a Bush supporter. In fact, for a long time I was undecided,” said Mr. Wright, 37, who described himself as self-employed. “I did vote for him, but that's not why I gave money.

        “I did so because there is so much unfairness going on down there with the way they are counting ballots and fighting in court. It seems so underhanded. I'm tired of all the shenanigans.”

        Anderson Township resident Rich Wills gave just $20 after seeing the plea for funds on the Bush Web site. The donation was the first time he has given money to a politician.

        “Frankly, I was just angry enough at the whole thing to give money,” said Mr. Wills, 38, who works in the computer business. “I felt (Mr. Bush) needed the money to fight what I think is a very worthy battle.”

        Others, such as financial adviser Rex Johnson, also of Anderson Township, felt a sense of duty that they manifested with cash.

        “I just felt somebody had to stand up and defend what is going on here,” said Mr. Johnson, 44, who gave $50.

        And donors such as Mark Penn, 33, a salesman from Liberty Township in Butler County, a Bush supporter, said he thinks the strength of the Constitution is being rattled by the legal fight in Florida.

        “My whole thought is that the Constitution is being undermined,” he said. “I was reading George Washington's farewell address, and he warned about this very thing, about the merging of powers and that one branch of the government could get too much power.

        “The whole thing is fairly scary to me, and I don't think it's right.”


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