Rudy leads funds race

Hillary brings in a glamorous group of givers in New York Senate race.

By Jesse Drucker
Published April 20, 2000 11:08AM (EDT)

In what is sure to be the most expensive U.S. Senate race of all time, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudy Giuliani continue to raise money at a torrid pace. Giuliani has raised nearly $20 million in campaign funds -- including soft-money donations -- while Clinton has raised roughly $16 million in soft- and hard-money contributions.

The two candidates' most-recent filings, made available this week, revealed the latest round of fat cats who want to influence the outcome of the election and presumably, the government.

After the reports were released, the campaigns quickly traded charges and countercharges attacking the ethical hygiene of the opposition's contributors. The Clinton campaign said it would return $22,000 from a Miami businesswoman who once helped solicit a contribution to the Democratic National Committee from an admitted cocaine trafficker now in prison. The Giuliani campaign, meanwhile, came under attack for accepting $100,000 from the Renco Group, a company whose holdings include Magnesium Corp. of America, which was cited in a 1998 federal Environmental Protection Agency report as the nation's top dumper of toxic chemicals.

Both campaigns have established soft-money committees to essentially bypass the federal restrictions on campaign contributions, resulting in some enormous donations. "It is grotesque," said Don Simon, general counsel to Common Cause, which along with Democracy 21 has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about the fund-raising practices of the two campaigns.

"You have Senate candidates here openly engaged in the solicitation of contributions far in excess of what the federal rules allow. Those rules have been put there in order to protect the political process from corruption and the appearance of corruption and those rules are just being flouted," Simon said.

Not surprisingly, donors to Giuliani's camp include scores of businessmen, many of whom have contracts with the city. They include real-estate developers Douglas Durst, Bernard Mendik and Edward S. Gordon, city bus franchise holder Edward Arrigoni, and builders Joseph Mattone and Lester Petracca. Financial services company American International Group (recipient of a nearly $56 million city tax break in 1997) gave $20,000.

Several longtime powerhouse national GOP contributors also ponied up for Giuliani. Venture capitalist Thomas McInerney gave $50,000, retired Amway head Richard DeVos and his wife Helen each gave $1,000, television station owner Herbert J. Siegel gave $20,000.

Team Giuliani also attracted plenty of conservatives with national name recognition including columnist William F. Buckley and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Hillary's camp, meanwhile, is also being courted by plenty of businesspeople and their emissaries. Financier Bruce Wasserstein, investor Warren Buffett, developer William Zeckendorf and lobbyist Thomas Boggs appear on Clinton's contributor list. The influence of Clinton's husband, who will be in New York with his wife and Al Gore on Monday for a DNC fund-raiser, is felt as well.

Friends of Bill on Hillary's list include attorney and presidential advisor Lloyd Cutler, attorney Richard Ben-Veniste (who represents Terence McAuliffe, President Clinton's chief fund-raiser), former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros and former White House counsel Charles Ruff.

Other contributors to the Clinton campaign include Joyce Dinkins, wife of former New York Mayor David Dinkins, People for the American Way official Barbara Handman, feminist icon Eleanor Smeal and Coretta Scott King.

Like her husband, Clinton has no shortage of celebrity donors, including: actors James Garner, Chevy Chase and Sally Field, deejay Casey Kasem, Talk magazine executive Devereux Chatillon (remember the puff piece on Clinton in the magazine's first issue?), music producer Quincy Jones, publicist Susan Blond, former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, author Dominick Dunne, musician Don Henley, director Ron Howard, screenwriter Paul Schrader, film editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Playboy CEO Christie Hefner.

But perhaps the most intriguing contribution on the list was the $7,000 Clinton received from the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, home to former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, still on unpaid leave from the firm.

Jesse Drucker

Jesse Drucker covers politics for Salon from New York.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Campaign Finance Hillary Rodham Clinton Rudy Giuliani