Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Richest nets least for committee

3 fall short in fund-raising effort

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Louisville businessman Charlie Owen, far and away the wealthiest prospective gubernatorial candidate, raised the least amount of money among exploratory committees.

        Two of the three other Democratic gubernatorial contenders reported raising the maximum $90,000 allowed for exploratory committees.

        Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, who created his committee only in mid-June, reported less than the maximum allowed with $56,750.

        Mr. Owen, who made a fortune in the cable television business and partly financed his own previous campaigns for Congress and the Senate, reported raising $29,510 in a filing with the Registry of Election Finance through the end of June.

        Two of the three serious Republican candidates also reported the maximum contributions to their exploratory committees.

        Only Jefferson County Judge-executive Rebecca Jackson fell short, reporting $34,785. Ms. Jackson said her approach to raising political money is different.

        While her base of strength is in her home of Jefferson County, campaign finance rules restrict the amount that can be raised from a single congressional district. Ms. Jackson said she will begin raising money around the state later in the summer.

        “I'm looking at it as something to put together our organization now,” Ms. Jackson said. “I look at each contributor as a vote.”

        Mr. Owen referred questions about his fund raising to his campaign treasurer, who did not return a call for comment.

        House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green and Attorney General Ben Chandler of Versailles, both Democrats, easily reached the maximum. Mr. Chandler did it in May.

        Republicans Steve Nunn, a state representative from Glasgow, and Sixth District U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher also reported the maximum.

        The exploratory committee is a relatively new phenomenon in campaign finance in Kentucky. The law allows raising money to finance polling and other information gathering and campaign work without having to become a formal candidate.

        Once a candidacy is proclaimed, running mates have to be identified and the restrictions of the partial public financing law could kick in, including the cap on total spending.

        Formal campaign kickoffs and fund raising is not expected until late this year.


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