- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2000

Al Gore's presidential campaign is hemorrhaging from dramatically lowered contributions in January and is disputing more than $500,000 in advertising, direct mail and polling services, according to the vice president's latest financial report.
Mr. Gore's contributions from individuals and political committees in January dropped to $588,630, about one-fourth of his monthly fund-raising average of more than $2.3 million throughout 1999.
His Feb. 20 financial report also shows that Mr. Gore has delayed payment of more than $500,000 for some December and January campaign bills, citing disputed costs.
Unpaid are Mr. Gore's major media and advertising firms in Washington, Century Media Group and Squier Knapp Communications, which are owed $240,126. Mr. Gore also has withheld $130,175 in payments to 12 companies that produced his direct-mail appeals and performed telemarketing and campaign-polling services.
Mr. Gore's January fund raising was less than half the $1.3 million raised by his Democratic challenger, former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey; less than a fourth of Republican challenger John McCain, who raised $2.5 million; and less than a third of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, another Republican rival, who raised $1.9 million.
"I can't speak to why their support has been drying up," said Mr. Bradley's spokesman, Tony Wyche. "We have seen continued steady increase in the amount of support, particularly at the grass-roots level, for Bill Bradley's candidacy."
Mr. Gore's campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., did not respond to telephone inquiries yesterday.
Unpaid bills for 33 consultants and companies are marked "disputed" in the debts section of the vice president's latest FEC filing. Jamie Sterling, media director for Century Media, and other unpaid vendors declined to comment and referred inquiries to the Gore campaign, which provided no explanation.
Minus outstanding bills, Mr. Gore's current cash balance is $6.6 million, his report shows.
Federal matching-fund payments of $5.5 million in January masked the vice president's low amount of actual contributions. The federal money matched prior 1999 contributions of less than $250 and comprised more than 90 percent of Mr. Gore's total receipts last month.
Mr. Bradley received $4.2 million in federal matching funds last month, and Mr. McCain, an Arizona senator, received $2.1 million. Mr. Bush has declined to accept any federal money for his primary campaign but says he would accept government matching funds for the general election if he won the GOP nomination.
Mr. Gore's financial report indicates a lean campaign compared with Mr. Bush, who spent $12.8 million last month and is paying six-figure salaries to his top campaign strategists and advisers.
Mr. Gore's January payroll was $384,708 for 230 campaign employees, compared with a Bush payroll of $883,052 for 174 employees.
Mr. Gore's top-salaried campaign official, finance director Johnny H. Hayes, was paid at an annual rate of $66,742 in January. Mr. Bush's top-paid official, campaign manager Joe M. Allbaugh, was paid at a yearly rate of $121,917.
Gore campaign manager Donna L. Brazile is being paid $57,226 a year. Campaign adviser Donald L. Fowler Jr., former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was paid at an annual rate of $53,560, and campaign spokesman Christopher S. Lehane is being paid $47,188.

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