- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

Private donations have rolled in to Texas Gov. George W. Bush since the General Services Administration declined to release $5.3 million in funds for the presidential transition while the election results are still being contested.
Contributions ranging from $25 to $5,000 flowed into Bush-Cheney headquarters in Austin over the past several weeks as Mr. Bush's legal team works to defend his narrow lead in Florida.
So far, $6 million has been raised for the Florida recount battle, said Bush campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan. Another $400,000 in private funds was raised for transition activities, he said.
As Vice President Al Gore pressed Florida courts to recount ballots in certain counties, the Texas governor appealed nationwide to past contributors and Republican officeholders for funds. Some of those donors included appointees in the administrations of his father, former President George Bush, and former President Ronald Reagan.
Between Nov. 14 and Nov. 22, the appeal netted 11,424 contributions totaling $3.4 million, according to Mr. Bush's campaign Web site, www.georgewbush.com.
More than 9,000 donors sent checks of less than $200 providing $316,000 to the recount legal effort while 368 donors provided $1.8 million with $5,000 checks, the limit set in the Bush-Cheney appeal.
In the primary and general election cycle, Mr. Bush raised $184.2 million. Mr. Gore raised $133.3 million, including $16 million in federal matching funds that Mr. Bush declined to accept. After the party nominating conventions in August, both campaigns received $67.6 million in federal funds for the three-month general election campaign.
Federal law does not restrict the amount of individual contributions for postelection recount efforts but prohibits donations from corporate or labor union treasuries. Similarly, for transition activities, corporate and labor union donations are prohibited. Private individual gifts cannot exceed $5,000.
Thirty-one Washington-area donors sent Mr. Bush $5,000 for the recount effort from Nov. 14 to Nov. 22, including former Reagan-Bush Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady, now chairman and chief executive officer of Darby Overseas Investments Ltd.; former Sen. Larry Pressler, South Dakota Republican, now a consultant to the telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries and a law partner with O'Connor & Hannan; and former Rep. Thomas J. Tauke, Iowa Republican, now executive vice president of Bell Atlantic and chairman of the U.S. Telecom Association.
Last week, following certification of his election victory in Florida, Mr. Bush began a separate fund-raising effort for a privately financed transition operation in McLean. The General Services Administration has refused to allow use of federal office space or release transition funds until after selection by the Electoral College is definite.
"The solicitation went out late Wednesday," Mr. Sullivan said. "We raised approximately $400,000" by Friday afternoon, he said.
Last Tuesday, White House spokesman Jake Siewert defended the GSA's refusal to release transition funds.
"The legislative history [of the Presidential Transition Act of 1963] is pretty clear that if there's any doubt in the mind of the [General Services Administration] administrator, that they should not move forward and that no money should be expended," Mr. Siewert said.
Rep. Steve Horn, California Republican and chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on government management, information and technology, has challenged the administration stance and called a hearing to question GSA Administrator David J. Barram.
In the meantime, the Gore-Lieberman campaign has refused to release information about donations to their recount fund or any transition-fund solicitations or activities that are under way.
The campaign did not respond to a request for information over the weekend. A recorded telephone message at Gore-Lieberman headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., said the campaign was "in the process of shutting down" and referred callers to the Democratic National Committee in Washington.
Mr. Sullivan said the Bush-Cheney team has set a $3.5 million fund-raising goal for the transition operation. "We expect that would certainly get us through the point where we would get federal dollars."

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