Tags: Hillary's | PAC | Presidential | Committee-in-Waiting

Hillary's PAC a Presidential Committee-in-Waiting

Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM

Already, political experts have said that Clinton's formation of a PAC is a very unusual step for a freshman senator. Such a move is, in fact, widely viewed as the first step in a presidential run.

More evidence has emerged that HILLPAC is nothing more than a shell for Clinton's presidential committee. With so few contributions given by HILLPAC, her committee appears to have another purpose than the traditional one of a PAC, which is to pass contributions on to fellow candidates.

A review of PACs headed by officeholders such as Clinton shows a number have been have been more generous in doling out their PAC funds.

For example, Sen. Don Nickles' Republican Majority Fund PAC donated $376,000 in the last and current election cycles – with 55 percent of funds raised going to fellow candidates.

Some of Hillary's Democrat colleagues were far more generous than she. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri donated $683,000 – more than he actually took in from individual donors to his PAC, "The Effective Government Committee."

But Clinton's PAC looks more like maverick Republican Sen. John McCain's PAC. With more than $2 million raised, McCain has given only a paltry $33,000 to fellow candidates.

One reason for McCain's lack of generosity may be the same as Clinton's. McCain's PAC is viewed as a vehicle for a future presidential run. In such cases, candidates hide their political expenses necessary to build a national political network behind the facade of the PAC.

Still, Clinton's PAC officials emphasize the main purpose of HILLPAC is to help other Democrat candidates. "Next year we hope to give away even more," said Patti Solis Doyle, a HILLPAC official.

Contributors to HILLPAC include the elite of New York and Los Angeles, with notable contributions from actress Marlo Thomas, former White House aide John Podesta, SlimFast chairman Daniel Abraham and financial writer Andrew Tobias.

Clinton has also received $124,500 from corporate and union PAC corporations that gave her the maximum amount allowable, $5,000, including Long Island's Cablevision and Federal Express.

She appears focused on using the money she does give to fellow candidates to build her own power base in the Senate.

The few receivers of the Hillary largesse so far have included fellow Democrat senators in tough re-election races, such as Missouri's Jean Carnahan, Montana's Max Baucus and South Dakota's Tim Johnson. Clinton has also donated to several House members facing difficult elections, such as Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill.

According to the Buffalo News, HILLPAC also gave $10,000 to the embattled Sen. Bob Torricelli, D-N.J.

Howard Wolfson, the political director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a former campaign adviser to Clinton, says Clinton has given to liberals and moderates alike. The committee routinely provides an updated list of needy candidates to PACs.

Recently, Rep. Brad Carson, D-Okla., who comes from a conservative district, caused a minor stir by

"He didn't want to start any unwanted controversy that was not needed," said Carson spokesman Brad Luna. "In our district, she's loved in many circles and is controversial in others."

Clinton's leadership PAC should not be confused with her election PAC, which has attracted about $31 million since 1997 and is now down to about $150,000, according to the last report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The lion's share of that pot came from individual contributions, with only about $1 million coming in from other PACs. Around since 1944, political action committees can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special). They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC. They are limited to receiving up to $5,000 from any one individual, PAC or party committee per calendar year.

Some politicians, such as Clinton, also form so-called leadership PACs, which are not technically affiliated with the candidate, as a way of raising money to help fund other candidates' campaigns. Leadership PACs are traditionally viewed as mechanisms to higher office.

About 20 senators, including McCain of Arizona, Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., plurality leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., have leadership PACs, but it is unusual for a freshman such as Clinton to have one.

Despite consistent protests that she is not staging a run for president in 2004, a recent Zogby poll shows Clinton as the second choice among Democrats, behind Al Gore, to be the party's 2004 presidential nominee.

The poll also shows Daschle running third with 8 percent support, followed by Gephardt and former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, each with 7 percent support.

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Already, political experts have said that Clinton's formation of a PAC is a very unusual step for a freshman senator. Such a move is, in fact, widely viewed as the first step in a presidential run. More evidence has emerged that HILLPAC is nothing more than a shell for...
Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM
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